By Katie Kieffer
On Saturday, I joined over 5,000 Texans who took to the streets of downtown Austin for the Texas Right to Life March. Marching feet remind us of battle, but for what are we really fighting when we say: “Right to Life?”
“Words matter,” a writing mentor of mine—who happened to be a pro-life attorney—once advised me. A core lesson that I gleaned from attending the 2018 Texas Right to Life March is that words—especially the words we use repeatedly; those words that roll off our tongue without thought—truly do matter.
Right is one such word. We who support legislation that honors life from conception until natural death use the word “right” in the phrase “Right to Life.” But if a stranger asked us, could we explain what we mean? More than likely, we’d find ourselves struggling for the right words to convey our intended meaning.
After all, our antagonists employ the same word to defend their positions: “Abortion Rights!” “Reproductive Rights!” “Women’s Rights!” “Right to Choose!” and the “Right to My Body!” are their chants.
We each must know what we mean when we say we support the “Right to Life,” so that our words come from the heart and not routine. After all, it is not in preaching (words alone) but by action (words brought to life by prayer and example) that we will draw others to our way of thinking.
An Unjust Law Cannot Create Rights
45 years ago, the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade created a situation whereby women began to believe they possessed an inherent right to abortion.
By “right,” women usually are referring to the “freedom” to have an abortion without fear of consequences. However, a law that is unjust does not create or illuminate new freedoms for human beings.
As the renowned philosopher Thomas Aquinas points out: “human law should never be changed, unless, in some way or other, the common-weal [common good] be compensated according to the extent of the harm done in this respect.” In other words, before altering any law that has “long been considered just,” we should first find overwhelming evidence that changing the law will benefit society more than maintaining the status quo.
In 1992, the late Justice Antonin Scalia said: “The issue is whether [abortion] is a liberty protected by the Constitution of the United States. I am sure it is not. … [T]he Constitution says absolutely nothing about it, and the longstanding traditions of American society have permitted it to be legally proscribed.”
“Freedom is a word that is very much abused…,” echoed the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Freedom is not liberation from truth but the acceptance of the truth.”
Truth must be the foundation, then, for all socially-sanctioned freedoms (rights). Unfortunately, Roe v. Wade was decided in the absence of strong, encouraging evidence in favor of changing the legal status quo on abortion. Indeed, the Court’s majority capitalized on scientific and medical ignorance.
Science soon disproved two of the primary assumptions made by the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade by showing that life begins at conception and that the abortion procedure psychologically and physically endangers women.
Today, we have overwhelming evidence indicating that our whole society—men, women and children—would be better off if women were not encouraged, under the guise of legality, to terminate unwanted pregnancies via abortion.
Not Ours To Give, Or Take (And Fathers Matter)
“For a child to have a chance in life, that child must first have a chance at life,” Gov. Greg Abbott told the large crowd gathered in the courtyard of the Texas capitol. He told of how he and his wife Cecilia had adopted their daughter, Audrey, and of the joy that her life—and her birth parent’s openness to life—brought his family.
Today, we casually employ the word ‘right’ as if merely using the word is proof that a certain right exists. That is, if someone claims a right to something—such as abortion, marriage or access to a certain bathroom—most of us are unsure how to disagree without appearing to question that person’s equality and dignity.
But rights are neither arbitrary nor self-determined. And to possess a right does not imply an absolute guarantee. For example, Natural Law or reason tells us that all persons possess a right to life but this right does not, of course, prevent a human being from dying in a car accident or from malaria.
To say, for example: “Fernanda possesses a right to life” references Fernanda’s protection from the annihilation of her life by another person. In other words, there is a fundamental natural law (whether recognized by a government or not) that protects Fernanda from the threat of losing her life at the hand of another.
We see then how—in a society—rights only apply in relation to others. Likewise, Fernanda can only claim that she has a legal “right to her body,” to the extent that she is not using her body to infringe on another person’s rights. (For the sake of this article, we will not get into Supernatural law, which builds upon and adds further mandates to Natural Law.)
Yes, a mother carries her baby in her womb for nine months—which leads to the claim that every mother has a “right” to decide whether to stop a child from fully developing within her womb via abortion. However, the fact that one entity (a growing baby) is temporarily more dependent than another dependent entity (a mother) does not magically make the mother an omnipotent, autonomous creator capable of bestowing or retracting rights.
Another argument against the claim that women have an absolute right over their bodies is that men also contribute to conception (and childrearing) and if every woman has an absolute “right” to eliminate any developing life within her body, it would follow that fatherhood can be dismissed by any mother. Which is, of course, irrational and false.
Unfortunately, many women of childbearing age seem to believe that fatherhood is indeed dismissible thanks to our culture’s misconception of “rights.” New U.S. Census data analyzed by Pew Research show that—while 7.5% more women are becoming mothers compared to a decade ago—significantly more women are doing so as single moms. And since today’s first-time moms are older and more educated than their predecessors—it’s clear that women are increasingly choosing to raise children without the partnership of a husband and father.
Both men and women are equally necessary to developing a child’s life and yet neither the father, the mother, nor even the combination of the two is morally or legally endowed with the right to determine when a child’s life begins or ends. To grant this power would be to ignore that humans cannot give rise to their own existence, let alone the lives of others. We are, all of us, dependent beings, despite how often we forget this truth.
Our Hope, In Peril
Under Gov. Abbott’s leadership, the number of abortions in Texas dropped by 9,000 in 2017 in comparison to 2016. But the headway he made—in collaboration with strong pro-life advocates in the Texas Legislature and judicial system—is in peril.
The Democratic Party wants to turn Texas blue. This may sound impossible, but in the wake of the #WomensMarch and #MeToo movements, Democrats realize that if they can convince enough women that they are victims—they could ride their anger to political victory.
As we speak, the Left is working tirelessly to find a candidate to oust Gov. Abbott in November. Democratic hopefuls, Lupe Valdez of Dallas and Andrew White of Houston, are making gains. Both White and Valdez have vowed to be strong supporters of Planned Parenthood and Roe v. Wade, and to veto legislation that “infringes” on a woman’s so-called “right to choose.”
Beyond Texas, pro-abortion activists have momentum nationwide. Emily’s List, an organization that recruits and trains pro-abortion Democratic women for political engagement has received interest from over 26,000 women in the past year alone, reports TIME.
Dead-Ends: Not All that Glimmers is Gold
Women demanding “rights” for their bodies—and men who march along their sides—do not realize the logical flaw in their position: we cannot compartmentalize respect for life.
We cannot disrespect humanity in several areas of our life (media; entertainment and healthcare) and then demand it in other areas (the workplace). We can’t expect to spend hours viewing our fellow humans as objects in our alone time, and then wonder why we struggle to respect ourselves and others in real life. Pornography has become so detrimental to our happiness that—in the past year—even secular outlets like TIME have dedicated cover stories to sharing research on porn’s incredibly destructive nature.
The same career-minded women who felt cornered into selling out to scoundrels like Harvey Weinstein are now joining Planned Parenthood in calling for the “right to abortion.” Unfortunately, these women don’t realize that they’re trying to regain their dignity by losing it again, in a different way.
Men may begin regenerating our culture by kicking aside any furtive habits that have trained their minds to view women as objects. Their work starts by investing time into loving and serving women rather than extracting empty pleasure from them while shedding their personhood. Women must do their part by accepting and encouraging respectful love from men instead of pressuring men to join them down a #MeToo/Planned Parenthood dead-end.
The Most Pro-Life Country in the World
A week before Gov. Abbott encouraged Texans with a message of hope, peace and equality, President Trump did the same: “You love every child—born and unborn—because you believe every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God,” he told Washington, D.C.’s March for Life.
How blessed we are in the United States to have our most powerful political leader—as well as the governor of the second-largest state in the Union—openly and proudly supporting life!
Venezuelan parents, meanwhile, are being forced to offer their children up for adoption due to the communist-socialist economy. Reuters recently reported that—every day in Venezuela—“more than a dozen parents plead for help taking care of their children.” Not because they do not want their children—but because they simply cannot acquire enough food. Venezuelan parents love their children so much that they are asking for help in prolonging their offspring’s lives—rather than presuming that their lives are not worth the effort.
Let us not allow the comforts of living in a great, wealthy and peaceful nation like the United States of America lull us into thinking that we are demi-gods who can “choose” when a life (our own; our child’s; or a family member’s) is “unworthy” of existence.