Perhaps we in the pro-life movement feel that we have had quite a lot of bad news in recent months. First, the election of an avidly pro-abortion President in the United States, with a fully supportive wife, was certainly a blow for the unborn babies of that “great” nation. Then the shocking murder of the abortionist in Florida was used widely by the media to give the impression that pro-lifers are a crowd of thugs, villains and murderers. All of this, added to the Ontario government’s threat of requesting an injunction which, by any standards, would be incredibly unjust and undemocratic, could be enough to cause many pro-life people to lose heart and turn their attention to other more hopeful causes. If this were the case it would not only be tragic, but also, in my opinion, a total misreading of the situation.
I have recently returned from a speaking tour of the United States and it has by no means dampened my enthusiasm for the pro-life cause. My first engagement was a talk at a Birthright dinner in Phoenix. This was arranged by the President, Mrs. Lori Futch. There were over 250 at the dinner and it was most encouraging to witness their zeal for the greatest cause on earth. Lori’s husband, Shelby, took me on a most delightful flight, in his own plane, over the Phoenix Hills and the Grand Canyon.
My next engagement was in Houston to speak at the Human Life International Conference. Before the conference, I was able to speak in an Hispanic parish where, to my surprise, the people could understand English, spoken with a thick Irish accent. The sun was blazing, the church was full of beautiful lilies and the Easter bonnets were the most colourful I have ever seen. But what impressed me most was the number of babies who tried to shout me down. Every young family had three or four lovely children. The entire building was “alive” in the truest sense of the word.
As usual, the HLI conference was an outstanding success. More than 2000 people from all over the world attended. I met doctors from Moscow, Slovania, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ireland. Speakers included Dr. Jerome Lejeune, from France; Dr. Peggy Norris, from England; Dr. Stephen Genuis from Edmonton, and Alice von Hildebrand and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, from New York. What arrested one’s attention was the almost tangible unity of purpose without the slightest trace of the fanaticism which is so often attributed to those who believe that unborn babies have the same right to life as their parents, sisters or brothers.
There were other indications that our efforts on behalf of the unborn are not in vain. While in the States, I came across a headline which read, “Military doctor joins peers in refusing to perform abortions.” Then came the following: “The only U.S. military doctor in Europe who had agreed to perform abortions has changed his mind, according to Stars and Stripes, the unofficial newspaper of the U.S. military. In European editions of the paper, it said that all 44 American-military obstetricians and gynecologists in Europe now decline to perform abortions for religious, moral and ethical reasons.” Facts like these cannot but have an effect on the many doctors who have become traitors to their true vocation of saving lives rather than destroying them.
Perhaps the most hopeful sign came from a very unexpected source. In a parish where I had been preaching a mission, a lady handed me an appeal for funds for the “Canadian Abortion Rights Action League.” It was signed by June Callwood. I have to confess that when reading the letter to a friend I just could not suppress my laughter at the ambiguity and illogicality of the language used. In case you, my pro-life readers, didn’t know, we belong to the “anti-choice forces.” We are publishing “lurid letters and flyers.” You are taking “biased messages into doctors’ offices, clinics and schools.” You have been “harassing and threatening doctors and their families at home.” And, if you get your way, things will “get worse, not better.”
Oh boy! Do you blame me for laughing? But where is the “good news” or “hopeful sign” to which I referred above? Near the end of the letter, Callwood states, “I’ve been involved as a volunteer with CARAL since the beginning, and I’ve never been more concerned that we could lose everything.” If “losing everything” means that they will have failed to be the instrument in the murdering of countless more babies, it is the best news I have heard in a long time.
So, let’s keep up the prayers, the pressure and picketing. The darkest hour often comes just before dawn.