The biggest pro-life demonstration of the year is about to take place in Washington, D.C. — the annual March for Life.
I am in town already, preparing meetings of pro-life leaders and organizing last minute details of many of the events of this week. There’s a great deal of excitement and energy building, as there always is, and a sense that our movement has the momentum.
If, however, there are a significant number of our fellow citizens who wonder why hundreds of thousands of people will march in Washington this Friday in opposition to abortion, a quick consideration of what is happening in New York may put it in perspective.
They are about to pass a law, with the new Democrat trifecta controlling the legislative and executive branches in the state, that will make it easier to get an abortion, even in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Although abortion has been legal in America since 1973, various states, with the blessing of the courts, place various restrictions on the procedure — the kind of restrictions that in fact enjoy majority support of the American public, even among those who call themselves “prochoice.” Some of these state laws protect children from abortion in the latest stages of pregnancy. Others have to do with requirements about what information a mother has to receive about her child, and about the abortion procedure, its risks, and the alternatives, before she undergoes it. Some laws require parental involvement if a minor seeks an abortion. Other state laws have to do with protecting taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, or requiring certain medical qualifications of those who perform the abortion procedure.
But New York Democrat lawmakers don’t care about any of that. Nor is it enough for them that New York State is already far more liberal in its abortion policy than the majority of the other states, having neither informed consent nor parental involvement laws, nor any effective limits on public funding for abortion.
No, they are concerned that New York allows abortion only through the 24th week of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger. They want abortion after 24 weeks to be permissible if it’s needed for the mother’s “health.” And they know full well that the Courts define “health” exceptions for abortion to include social factors as well as medical factors. As the Supreme Court made clear in 1973, health includes considerations of the woman’s age, her family circumstances, and more (see Doe vs. Bolton). It is, in other words, the exception that swallows the rule.
And the New York Democrats are also concerned that New York only allows physicians to perform this procedure. They want that restriction removed as well.
The debates in favor of this law, as well as the text of the law itself, fail to ever describe an abortion in the words that the medical textbooks utilize to describe it. That’s because if these Democrat politicians start actually describing what they’re so fanatically supporting, they’ll have to use words like “dismember” and “decapitate” — words used by Dr. Warren Hern in his well-known medical textbook on abortion called "Abortion Practice."
Why, then, are hundreds of thousands of Americans gearing up to march in Washington? Because they know that the extreme measures being pushed in New York would indeed be upheld under the current framework of abortion policy and jurisprudence set in place by Roe vs. Wade. That 1973 Supreme Court decision was issued on January 22 and said the states had to legalize abortion in the first six months of pregnancy and could even legalize it in the third trimester. The plan in New York is to have their new pro-abortion bill signed into law on that same date, January 22.
And various other states either already have or are planning to put into law equally extreme abortion measures.
So this Friday, we march. We march representing the countless Americans who believe that abortion policy in this country is already far too extreme, and that Roe vs. Wade does not represent, and never has represented, the convictions of the American people. We march because we believe, that whether in New York or anywhere else, a commitment to freedom, legitimate reproductive rights, and the health and equality of women is perfectly compatible with protecting our youngest children.
For a schedule of key pro-life events in Washington this week, see www.PriestsForLife.org/MarchForLife.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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