Roe turned thirty in January, not with a bang but a whimper. For pro-life activists it was a bit of a surprise. One anticipated numerous stories in the media debating the pros and cons of "rights" based on penumbras and recanted statements.
Some local papers across the country minimized their coverage to one relevant story on the morning of Jan. 22, 2003, typically an angry and hostile piece that denounced pro-lifers as people who care more about "tissue" than real women.
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. Truth is always bothersome particularly when we don’t like it. In this case, being bothered is a good thing because it indicates that some remnant of conscience exists in the soul of the person being bothered. Down deep, something is not right with the culture and Americans know it.
Back to the Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement more than makes up for the lack of material written to commemorate the passing of millions of American children into the arms of God.
Edited by Teresa Wagner, a former lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee and Legislative Analyst for the Family Research Council, it is a compilation of thought-provoking essays on the history, goals, achievements, failures and consequences of the pro-life movement in the last thirty years.
Among the twenty-nine featured reflections are some of the biggest names in the movement: Charles Rice, Terence Jeffrey, Mildred Jefferson, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Dr. Philip Ney, Dr. Jack Wilke, Paul Weyrich, Howard Philips, Phyllis Schlafly, Dr. James Dobson and Nat Hentoff.
Fr. Neuhaus opens the exhortation to the troops. "The cause of life is irrepressible. It may at times be slowed, but it will never be stopped. It may be dimmed, but it will never be extinguished. And that is because this cause is inseparable from the One of whom it is said, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never overcome it.’ Never. Never ever. The century’s contest for the culture of life against the culture of death is just beginning. The battles are uncertain. The final outcome is assured." With a girding like that behind them, the troops can now make assessments and plan for the future.
In "Should We Blame the Lawyers," Charles Rice explains how legal positivism in the 60’s replaced God and morality from elementary schools to law schools. In a secular milieu with few, if any, moral constraints, abortion and euthanasia have made serious inroads into the landscape. He finds hope in a new generation of up and coming lawyers who will challenge the system.
John Manning Regan, Sr., a retired judge, pens a tribute to former Supreme Court Justice Byron White in "Seeing the Dragon Cloud." As one of the two dissenting votes in Roe vs. Wade, Justice White has all but been obliterated from American jurisprudence.
Regan writes, "White never succumbed to the deconstruction of the Constitution." He wrote in his dissent, "The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant mothers, and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutesâ?¦(it is) an exercise of raw judicial power."
Dr. Philip Ney, physician, child psychiatrist and psychologist, discusses the wounds of abortion to women and the family. He relates that the traditional standards of medical care (patient’s benefit, informed consent, no exploitation of those under care and Primum non nocere) are absent in the abortionist’s practice.
Abortion will aggravate every psychiatric illness; the greater the problem, the worse the effect. Pathological grief and depression can lower the immune system leaving a woman susceptible to more infections and cancer.
Those who have abortions may abuse and neglect their children. Those abused children are then more likely to have abortions and the cycle of violence continues. The rage a woman feels after being abandoned by her child’s father may be difficult to control and she may project that rage onto him or surviving siblings.
Peggy Hartshorn says that crisis pregnancy centers responded in the early days of the movement to what they considered an emergency in prenatal care. The emergency has dragged on to become a lifestyle. The initial reaction was absolute joy that a child was not killed. Those children are now growing up and they need a mommy and a daddy who love them.
Back to the Drawing Board will remain a relevant reference book on the multi-faceted aspects of pro-life movement until babes can peacefully slumber once again in their mothers’ wombs.