The pro-life movement is today’s portion of America’s long march through history to apply the teachings of universal human rights in our founding documents universally, for all people. Just as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King pointed to the Declaration of Independence as justification for the truth of their cause in the battles for the abolition of slavery and civil rights, pro-lifers do the same in the fight for the basic right to life of preborn babies. Indeed, we march for that truth to correct the greatest social injustice of our time.
In 1857, the infamous Dred Scott decision of the United States Supreme Court overturned an Act of Congress to grant Constitutional rights to Dred Scott, a black slave who had been taken to free territories by his owners and managed to escape and sue for freedom. In a 7-2 decision, writing for the Court, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a man history will remember as an emblem of evil, concluded “the negro is not as a man, but as an article of property.” American founding principles could not coexist with such a violation of universal human rights and the seeds of the most vicious war in our nation’s history were sown.
Four years later, Abraham Lincoln somberly recounted in his Second Inaugural Address, “the war came,” and four years after that 750,000 bodies lay mutilated on the soil of the Land of the Free, as the skirmish to end the scourge of slavery ended in the costliest victory in American history. America was plunged into a grizzly war against itself for its very being as the country of the self-evident truth that all men are created equal.
One of the forgotten stories from the Civil War is the amazing influence of a song written by an abolitionist named Julia Ward Howe, called “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”). Howe saw Union troops marching to their almost certain death chanting “John Brown’s Booty,” a lyrically subpar number about man who had been hanged for his effort to free slaves and she was moved to give the brave soldiers better words for the tune. As the story goes, the new song came to her so fast she didn’t even have time to look at the paper. “Battle Hymn of the Republic” instantly became the anthem providing morale for the soldiers on the abolitionist side to press forward for the righteous cause. When the song was performed for Lincoln at a large Union rally, he burst into tears and requested it sung again, which it was.
The renowned British statesman and friend of the American Revolution, Edmund Burke, is famous for his warning that “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Unfortunately, America, for all of her amazing acts to advance morality and civilization on the world scene, has had a difficult time applying the universal human rights, etched into her very own Declaration of Independence, to all people, of all races, places, sizes, levels of development, and degrees of dependency. After the great victory of emancipation realized in 1865, it would be almost another hundred years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would demand by law that people could not be dehumanized, segregated and subjugated based on the color of their skin.
In 1963, Martin Luther King led 200,000 in the famous March on Washington, which at last got the attention of the politicians in our nation’s capitol, sending the message that the American people meant business in recognizing liberty and justice for all. The civil rights marchers sung “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” King preached his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, and America at last was pushed over the finish line in erasing the ungodly color barrier in our legal system.
It would be awesome to report that the problem of personhood was solved once and for all and that our nation finally modeled to the world what the unalienable right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” looks like when applied to every human. Tragically, of course, this isn’t the case. No sooner than racial civil rights were realized, America fell into an equally horrible, subversive, treacherous folly in regard to recognizing the rights of all human beings.
In eerie similarity to the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court, after a slimy, gradual, ten-year attack, decided its newly created “Constitutional right to privacy” included the “right” of a mother to kill her preborn baby in the womb. In 1973, a year that will live in infamy, in another horrible 7-2 decision, the Court produced an unconscionable ruling, this one against the personhood of the most defenseless, innocent human beings in our society. Just as Justice Taney wrote for the Court that blacks were to be treated as property rather than persons back in 1857, Justice Harry Blackmun, effectively denied the personhood of the preborn with these words: "at this point in the development of man's knowledge... [we cannot] resolve the difficult question of when life begins."
The moral devastation that Roe v. Wade brought to America is incalculable. Everything about the case, from its Constitutionality to the details of the plaintiff Norma McCorvey (“Roe” as her pseudonym) being impregnated through rape as her reason challenging the Texas law outlawing abortion, turned out to be a lie. Nevertheless the truth of the abortion genocide that resulted is pure evil. Since 1973, 60 million babies have been brutally killed while in what is supposed to be the safest place they will ever be throughout their human lifetimes. Approximately one million per year, over 3,000 a day (the equivalent of 9/11), one baby every half-minute is slaughtered as non-human, biological waste in the country whose Declaration states unequivocally the unalienable right to life comes from the hand of the Creator. If there existed a more blatant way for America to shake her fist at God, it would be difficult to fathom.
Yet there is light on the horizon. History teaches that whenever America faces a danger that cuts to the core of her identity, which is, as the Pledge of Allegiance states, “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all,” we have risen to the challenge. Just as we have overcome slavery and segregation, which have as their foundation the lie that a black human was “not a person,” we shall overcome the abortion genocide, which has at its core the lie that the preborn is also “not a person.” As we have in the past, we shall overcome the lies that disqualify a particular group of human beings from their intrinsic right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Science has completely refuted the 1973 Court’s notion that we cannot know when human life begins. Embryology clearly demonstrates each zygote is a distinct, living and whole member of the human family. Good moral philosophy determines differences in size, level of development, location, or dependency on the mother are not viable to deny the most innocent people in our society their basic right to life. Borrowing from Blackmun’s wording, at this point of the development of man’s knowledge, these are irrefutable facts.
Pope John Paul II famously remarked a society will be judged based on how it treats its most vulnerable members. So just as the brave soldiers of the Union marched to the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the slaves. Just as millions of Americans marched on the nation’s capitol, braving threats to their personal freedom to secure the blessings of liberty for all people regardless of race. We shall undertake the great cause of the Walk for Life on Jan. 21, 2016 to end the abortion genocide. Yes, we will march for the most vulnerable amongst us, so one day they might have the chance to march against injustice themselves. In doing so, we will raise our voices for the voiceless and sing “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” His Truth is marching on.