I was glued to the T.V. Tuesday night. There was another “State of the Union” address; but it took on new and special meaning for me when our President spoke so forcefully in defense of human life. It was unlike any other presidential address I heard over the years. It was really different when the President spoke on an issue about which I have a special passion.
When he was running for the highest office in our land, former President Bill Clinton uttered the mantra that supposedly expresses the goal for people who call themselves “pro-choice,” namely, that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Ha! So much for that mantra!
The “legal” part we know about all too well. In fact, that is why our current President chose to address the Pro-Life “March For Life” recently, because in 1973, the United States Supreme Court made abortion on demand legal with its decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. This President doesn’t believe in this.
As far as “rare” is concerned, the Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that in the first 35 years since that decision, nearly 50 million legal abortions were performed in the U.S. That number of abortions doesn’t sound very “rare.”
Let’s look at “safe.” A doctor who ran a women’s clinic in Philadelphia was sentenced to life in prison after “delivering seven babies and then killing them by severing their spinal cords with scissors.” Prosecutors also accused that Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell of “causing the death of a patient who overdosed on anesthesia.” A grand jury report also found that for nearly two decades, government health and licensing officials had received reports about practices at the clinic but no action was taken, “because oversight agencies ignored reports and failed to stop the activities at his clinic.”
Because of such abuses, in contrast to abortion advocates who still call themselves “pro-choice,” there are those dedicated to the pro-life cause who believe that safety wouldn’t even be an issue if abortions were non-existent, and a step toward eradicating this evil would be to make it illegal for doctors or anyone else to perform an abortion.
Perhaps the basis for the different views of pro-life and pro-abortion (the reality behind “pro-choice”) advocates is how each answers the question, “Who is in charge, God or I?” It is THE question that echoes through all of our history, from Adam and Eve ‘til now. Who owns the world, and what is it for?
The promise of the Beatitudes is a great reward in heaven. Too often our politicians, government officials and judges seem to forget the Final Judgment that we will all face one day before Almighty God. Too often self-styles “Catholic” politicians, government officials and judges abandon their faith and pursue an agenda contrary to the Divine and Natural law. Too often they forget that God is in charge, not our worldly leaders. Too often they deny that all life and all meaning belong to God. We are God’s, and so is all creation. It all belongs to God, the rising sun and the blue skies, the birds of the air and the waves of the ocean, the human heart and a baby’s smile, a bowl of wheat or a plate of pasta, a glass of wine or a bottle of milk. As the Psalmist reminds us, it all belongs to God, for His is the earth and all of its fullness. It was all made by His hand out of love for us, and we, the crowning achievement of his creation, are made in His image and likeness. So, from the beginning we and all creation were made to reflect His love and to participate in the continuing creation of God’s goodness. Making everything out of nothing … love out of hate … light out of darkness … hope out of despair … life out of death.
Jesus showed us the way to heaven and gave us the answers we need to pass the ultimate test: final judgment. We will be judged on whether we used this world’s goods to love or to be selfish, whether we opened our arms, our hearts, and our lives to the poor or whether we grabbed for all the power, money and pleasure we could get.
Who is the poorest, the most innocent and the most defenseless among us? Who is more susceptible to a violent death than the little child in his mother’s womb? It needs the protection of a nurturing mother, of loving parents, and of a society that respects the dignity of its life.
We will be judged on whether we nurtured, loved and protected that baby even before it was born, on whether we saw it as a human being with an inalienable right to life, or simply as an inconvenient clump of cells to be disposed of like a thing we no longer want to keep.
Yet, that child is neither a statistic nor a social problem. It is a human being, made in the image and likeness of God, whom we are called by Christ to love, even as the Lord loved us from the wood of His cross.
We will be judged on how we have treated the least powerful among us, and how we have loved them. For God, who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, has told us so: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”
It all belongs to Him, to the Christ who comes to us each day in the Eucharist, and who will come one day to judge the living and the dead.