On a recent Saturday, I had the privilege of being one of the speakers at a pro-life conference here in southeastern Michigan. I was there for the entire event and recognized many familiar faces, people who have been involved for decades in the cause to save the unborn. Seeing “fellow travelers” is a common experience in the pro-life movement. Attend a few banquets, pray outside abortion clinics, participate in Masses and prayer vigils, and work in elections, and one will get to know many of these good, faithful warriors.
As I sat in the audience that day, I was thinking how pro-lifers are treated in this country. The news media never call them “pro-life.” No, they are “anti-choice,” whereas abortion proponents are always referred to as “pro-choice,” and never “anti-life.” Millions of dollars from American taxpayers subsidize the Planned Parenthood killing machines, while crisis pregnancy centers and other pro-life groups must beg for every penny in order to stay afloat. Radio and television stations will sponsor telethons to raise thousands of dollars to lead to the cure of various physical ailments, but you will never see such endeavors to raise money to end abortions. And most sadly of all, some pro-lifers are pariahs in their own churches, never given an opportunity to speak to fellow parishioners or even to have the church bulletin acknowledge a pro-life event.
How did we come to a point in America when those who selflessly work for the noble cause of preserving life are demeaned, denigrated, and demonized? Why aren’t they seen as the pillars of society, the guardians of the fundamental values enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and rooted in the Ten Commandments? Why?
While ruminating about this blatant injustice, I was reminded of a scene from Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, the marvelous play about Saint Thomas More and his conflict with the adulterous King Henry the Eighth. Near the end of the play, More is being held in the Tower of London, facing certain death if he does not recognize Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. Margaret, More’s daughter, visits him in jail, and they have this short dialogue:
Margaret: In any State that was half good, you would be raised up high, not here, for what you’ve already done. It’s not your fault the State’s three-quarters bad. Then if you elect to suffer for it, you elect yourself a hero.
More: That’s very neat. But look now . . . If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all . . . why then perhaps we must stand fast a little–even at the risk of being heroes.
Of course, More refused to acquiesce and was soon beheaded. But today the Church declares him both hero and saint. And with faith in God’s ultimate justice, I believe that thousands of pro-lifers, who have given so much of their lives to end the war against the unborn, will someday hear these words from their heavenly Father:
“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
And then they, too, shall be finally and justly recognized as both heroes and saints.