A person walks past the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington May 13, 2021. CNS photo/Andrew Kelly, Reuters

Editorial: 50 lost years

  • July 7, 2022

Canadians and their southern cousins who see the overturning of Roe v. Wade as tragic would do well to carefully consider where the tragedy truly lies.

A common cry from some in that cohort is that the decision “sets us back 50 years” to before the date of the 1973 decision that led Americans to believe there was a right to abortion.

In fact, the assertion summarizes two parts of the genuine calamity. One is that generations were duped into believing a right existed where, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, no such right ever existed in the nation’s laws or traditions or practices. It was simply a judicial invention, confected out of whim, that unleashed the summary extinguishment of tens of millions of unborn children. (There’s an intriguing, though obviously unanswerable, question as to how many American women who justified their abortions to themselves as an exercise of “rights” would have decided otherwise had they not been so deceived.)

The deaths of the unborn must be paramount in weighing the half-century tragedy just passed. But a second part of the catastrophe is the reduction of all sides entangled in the abortion question to warring factions that, over time, became far more enmeshed in the quarrel than the solution. Best-intentioned as those in the pro-life camp have been, it’s no rarity to find individuals, many shaping organizations, who long ago forgot their mission wasn’t to defeat pro-choice opponents but to make the choice unimaginable by making it utterly unnecessary.

The outcome, all around, has been responding to the setting aside of Roe. v Wade with shouting and spitting and mindless repetition of 50-year-old slogans. If fanatics can’t change their minds and won’t change the subject, 360 degrees of abortion issue activists have sunk even deeper and been unable to find anything new to say. Fifty years of time lost because of Roe v. Wade’s fraudulence now risk being magnified by the inability of all actors to put down the placards, zip the lips on the triumphalist mantras, and actually do something to help women.

Of course, thousands of individual North Americans make extraordinary efforts, working within formal and informal organizations to accompany women facing heart-rending “choices” around pregnancy. Nothing should diminish their contributions.

But as former Ontario Liberal MPP John Milloy writes eloquently in this issue, there is a crying need for all of us  to back public policies that allow women to fundamentally see pregnancy as ultimate creation, not social burden, not consignment to financial precariousness, not something to be “treated” by those touting the allure of medico-technological termination.

Milloy points out: “St. John Paul II reminds us (that) ‘it is not enough to remove unjust laws,’ we need to put ‘in place social and political initiatives capable of guaranteeing conditions of true freedom of choice in matters of parenthood.’ ”

The authentic tragedy would be continuing to ignore that wisdom as if the battle is what matters.

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