Roe v. Wade: Tragic Anniversary

With the 40th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, many are reflecting on the consequences legally, morally, spiritually, and ultimately in human lives. Even liberal legal scholars have acknowledged in recent years that the Supreme Court’s constitutional basis for its decision was questionable, but the private views below focus on the moral and not the legal implications of the decision.


I work in Washington. Just down the street from my office, every year hundreds of thousands of Americans come to the March for Life to protest the enormous loss of innocent lives engendered by this legal decision. The participants include my brother Michael and his family: he works to raise money for members of his church to travel the long distance to Washington.

Given our familiarity with German history because of our family background (my mother grew up in Nazi Germany), we are aware of the well-known, inspiring, chilling speech by Martin Niemöller, a Protestant pastor and vocal critic of Adolph Hitler who spent seven years in a concentration camp. My brother used that speech recently as an inspiration for speaking to a group about the March for Life:

“They first came for the most innocent among us, the unborn, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a baby in the womb.”

Did you know that today in the U.S. 3,000 to 4,000 children will be killed in the womb; that in the next week 21,000 to 28,000 of our younger brothers and sisters will be dead from abortion; that this year alone 1.2 million will perish in the U.S.; that since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision over 54 million of the most innocent among us have been killed in and outside of the womb; that worldwide over 45 million babies are aborted every year; that within the African-American community, the rate of abortion is 3 to 4 times higher than in the rest of the population and that 36% of all abortions in the U.S. are of African-American babies, despite the fact that African-Americans only represent 13.6% of the population; that the leading cause of death in the U.S. is abortion, twice that of the next leading cause, which is heart disease?

“Then they came for the disabled, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t disabled.”

Did you know that in the U.S., 90% of all Down Syndrome children are aborted?

“Then they came for the unborn baby girls, and I didn’t speak out because I was not an unborn baby girl.”

Did you know that over 160 million unborn baby girls have been aborted worldwide simply because they are girls, and that figure includes the U.S.?

“Then they came for the elderly because they were a burden on society, and I didn’t speak out because I was not old.”

Did you know that in the Netherlands, which has had euthanasia since the early 1980s, so many elderly are put to death based solely on a doctors’ decision that many now cross the border to see a doctor in another European country out of fear?

“Then they came for the Church and for me, and there was no one left to speak for us.”

In Matthew Chapter 25:40, Jesus is talking about the last judgment and says “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” One day we will all stand in front of our Lord and have to answer for what we did or failed to do. Will we then be able to say: “Yes Lord we stood up for the least of these, for the unborn, for the disabled, for the elderly?” I know that I will want to be able to say, “yes, Lord” and then hear in response “well done my good and faithful servant.”

Today I ask you once more to stand up for the least of our brethren, to stand up for life and the dignity of each human person by generously supporting our effort to raise funds that will allow parishioners at St. Jude and Holy Spirit to participate in the annual prayerful and peaceful March for Life in Washington, D.C. in January, so that our voices can be heard on behalf of the least of our brethren.

As the Church teaches, when the issue is whether to protect or deny the fundamental right to life, it outweighs other matters. Among acts that are intrinsically evil (although reconciliation and forgiveness are possible), those that directly attack life itself, the clearest example of which is abortion, are the foremost violations of human dignity.

The right to life is the foundation upon which all other human rights are based and without which no other right could possibly exist. The right to life is indeed our first right, and protecting life to the maximum degree possible must be our highest priority.


I couldn’t have said it better myself — it must run in the family.

Hans von Spakovsky is a lawyer in Washington. He is writing this essay in a purely private capacity.


Roe at 40: A Discussion with Live Action’s Lila Rose


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