The start of a new Supreme Court term is always a notable event in Washington. Pundits and analysts take a look at intriguing cases bubbling up from the various appellate circuits, speculating on which ones the high court will accept, and what impact a change in direction could have on a particular aspect of life in the United States.
The addition of a new chief justice and the expected addition of a new associate justice have brought fresh attention to the first Monday in October of 2005. Throughout the confirmation hearings for Judge John Roberts, there has been much concern about how he would rule on certain issues that will no doubt face the court, not only this year but also for many years to come. No issue imaginable could ever be more volatile than abortion.
Media discussion of abortion is generally played out as a question of conflicting "rights." A woman's right to choose. A constitutional right to privacy. A right to be left alone. A right to reproductive freedom. A right to life. Those are all concepts - words on a sheet of paper, just like the rulings that led to all these discussions.
The twin 1973 Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and the lesser known, but perhaps more damaging Doe v. Bolton, are likewise words on a page. But they are words that launched a societal revolution and a relentless attack on a specific class of human beings - children in their mothers' wombs - that has left our country poorer in many ways.
The actual count cannot be determined with a guarantee of accuracy, but the best estimates are that since these cases were decided on January 22, 1973, the death toll from decriminalized surgical abortion is in the neighborhood of 46 million.
Yes, there are demonstrations in Washington and in other cities each year on the anniversary of those rulings, but the events tend to skew towards the political, towards activism, towards the future. That's well and good. But in the bustle of activities, it's hard to find an appropriate time of silence to concentrate solely on the 46 million dead. That's why this Monday, pro-lifers are asked to devote their attention, thoughts and prayers - to just the babies.
This Monday, as the Supreme Court goes back to work, please take a minute to stop and put aside any thoughts of politics and lobbying - and think only of what has been lost as a result of those two decisions of almost 33 years ago.
We're very good at remembering the lost in this country. Just recently, we've been stunned by the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. Not so long ago, it was the tsunami in Asia that gave us reason to pause. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 gave us new heroes to remember, and a new appreciation of police officers and firefighters, whom we may have taken for granted prior to that frightening day.
We remember those who sacrificed their lives for our nation on battlefields far from home. The various war memorials throughout the country help us reflect on those whose efforts helped preserve our freedom.
Though the war in Vietnam remains a controversial element of recent U.S. history, the memorial in Washington honoring the men and women lost in this conflict is perhaps one of the most touching. Its listing of the names of the dead shows something very important about the nature of war. War has its costs, and no cost is greater than the lives of real, unique, individual people. People with parents and children and siblings and friends. People who were born, grew up, went to school, perhaps got married - and went to war. People who were vibrant and alive, but whose lives were snuffed out far too soon.
I wonder what we as a nation would think about the victims of abortion if there were a monument in Washington with the names of all 46 million children put to death by surgical abortion. For one thing, if it were modeled on the Vietnam memorial, it would require a whole lot more real estate. Some 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam. The abortion toll is almost 800 times greater. The Vietnam wall is measured in feet; an abortion wall would have to be measured in miles.
Of course, if there were an abortion wall, there would be very few actual names on it. And that would be indicative of why there is no national outcry over abortion as there was a national outcry over 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina. We know the victims of terror and tempest. When it comes to abortion, however, we don't know the victims.
Those who died as the result of wars, storms and terrorism had names. Relationships. Life stories. Few of abortion's victims had the opportunity to have a name. None had the opportunity to develop relationships and life stories. It is as if they were, in point of fact, non-persons.
But they were persons. We just never got the chance to know them. That's why next Monday - the first Monday in October - you would do well to pause for a moment and think about what's been lost, about what this country could have been with the names, faces, lives and contributions of these 46 million unique human beings who had so much to offer, but were never permitted to see the light of day.
Please don't forget the babies. Pray that this war, this tempest, this terror attack, will soon come to a merciful end.
Release issued: 28 Sept 05