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For half a century it has felt like America is on an inexorable march away from traditional and conservative values into a future of progressive relativism. Mainly the response from the right has been to stand, as William F. Buckley once put it, athwart history yelling, stop.
But for one movement the stalemate wasn’t good enough, losing more slowly was not acceptable. The pro-life movement wanted to win and on June 25, 2022, it did.
This movement, born just days after Roe v Wade was decided in 1973, can now be spoken of in the same breath as abolition, suffrage and civil rights. Put plainly, it is now among the most significant and successful social and political movements in the history of the United States of America.
A decades-long project, which seemed impossible for much of that time, has been completed. Millions of Americans, including many who did not live to see this day, refused to accept that the unborn could be killed at our whim. Now millions of future Americans will enjoy the simple right to live because of it.
In the fullness of time we may come to see Friday’s Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade as inevitable, as we now do the end of slavery and votes for women. But just as those great leaps forward for America were forged, not preordained, so too was this one.
There are great women, men and organizations responsible for this victory, but none as important as the small activist. Each quiet prayer outside a small town abortion clinic, powerless to stop the carnage within, asking for the Lord’s help, yes, but also to be His help. Every young person marching with joy at the hope of life, every rosary, every vigil. The invisible but awesome power of lives lived in a commitment to the common good, to life.
This victory was won by every American who held fast to the sane, simple truth that if we mourn the miscarried child we must mourn the aborted child. That there is no moral algebra that can render them unequal.
What this fight to protect the unborn has most truly taught us is that we do not have to simply accept the widening gyre of a progressive society that cannot identify good or evil. Rather, we can bring our society back closer to the center, to dignity, to the recognition of the beauty and sanctity of all human life. We can do more than stem the tide, in fact, we can part the seas.
This is an age of hyperbole in which every news cycle supposedly bristles with several chapters of future history books. That makes it hard to fully comprehend what a change in American life the end of Roe v Wade is. No issue has been battled as closely in American politics. No triumph gained so quickly after fear it would never happen.
Somewhere today, in the wild, vast expanse of great America, a child who otherwise would have died will live. Somewhere in our tomorrows, cries of life that otherwise would have sat silent will pierce the air. And from those lives more.
The pro-life movement is not over. It must shift from the courts to the people, bringing to their hearts a will to save unborn lives now that abortion may be ended. But in a very real way the pro-life movement is complete. Its founding mission has been accomplished. It has done the impossible, turned back time.
In the final moments of Puccini’s aria Nessun Dorma, there is a crescendo to glorious beauty. In the words we find something akin to the deliverance of this profound moment. The fight against abortion has often had dark times, feeling the weight of 63 million lives snuffed out since the battle was joined. But today, we can say with confidence,
“Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win!
I will win!|
I will win!”