New Year’s reasons for hope in the pro-life movement

A very funny end-of-year review by Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry began:

“[2009] was a year of Hope — at first in the sense of ‘I feel hopeful!’ and later in the sense of ‘I hope this year ends soon!’”

Now we’re at the beginning of 2010, and most of us have probably recovered the fresh New Year feeling of hope, even — or maybe especially — if we had a bad 2009. It doesn’t really make any sense; nothing has changed except the flipping of a calendar, but still the newness signals a fresh start and a promise of potential.

And really, there’s a lot to be hopeful about. That struck me reading through the articles in this issue, which is our annual Respect Life issue timed for the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

A couple of observations, in no particular order:

First, the pro-life movement continues to attract the young. I saw an article in the past several months about a longtime abortion-rights activist — now in her menopause years — figuratively pulling her hair out because of the “ambivalence” of today’s young women, for whom unplanned pregnancy is still a possibility, about expanding those “rights.”

The pro-life movement doesn’t seem to be having that problem. The March for Life in Washington, D.C., this week is likely to see a high percentage, as in years past, of young adult participants.

Second, the culture of life is gradually making headway in the United States. Last year was the first since Roe v. Wade in which a majority of Americans identified themselves as pro-life. There’s growing awareness of the toll that abortion takes not just on the unborn but on women (and men). This progress should be celebrated and encouraged because ending abortion in this country will only come about and endure if hearts and perceptions are changed.

Third, there are some real pro-life heroes in our midst. It is easy to call oneself pro-life, but a lot of people regularly are dedicating their time and energies to promote the culture of life. And there are others who find themselves having to make difficult decisions in their own lives — and opt for life, despite great personal cost.

Some of the stories in the Respect Life special section (Pages 9-16) include

  •  A spunky 8-year-old girl who is credited with saving the life of a baby — on the feast of the Immaculate Conception — whose mother was planning abortion at a notorious Kansas clinic.
  •  A couple who welcomed two disabled daughters into their family, despite knowing about the disabilities before their birth — and being counseled by doctors to terminate the pregnancies.
  • A young Catholic writer’s untried approach to the question of abortion through the medium of edgy graphic novel.

I look forward to your comments at