Interior of St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia, USA. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Americans who understand that life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of death are being persecuted. This is a fact. The painful truth is that we are being persecuted by our own government. Some of us, perhaps many of us, are being persecuted by our own friends and dear members of our own families. In the face of such suffering, what are we pro-lifers supposed to do? What is the focus of our struggle in defense of innocent life? Are we here to demand justice for the unborn? Is our fight meant to bring about a new society in which everyone respects life? Or are we called – in fulfillment of the aforementioned goals – to be witnesses to the transcendence of truth?  

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland has built himself quite a résumé since he took office in March, 2021. Last July, Garland established the Reproductive Rights Task Force. He did this in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. With the founding of this task force, the U.S. Department of Justice declared itself openly pro-abortion. What else could Garland be doing other than establishing measures to curb the Supreme Court’s decision to defend life? Case in point: the Attorney General declared his intention to utilize the 1994 legislation Freedom of Access to Clinics Act – a law that protects American citizens’ right to access or provide “reproductive health services” –  as much as possible in order to ensure women’s access to abortion. He did this even though the language in the 1994 law clearly includes women’s access to crisis pregnancy centers and not just abortion clinics. 

As attorney general, Garland is head of the United States Department of Justice. One of the DOJ’s subsidiaries is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, commonly known as the FBI. Under Garland, the FBI seems to be focused on arresting and prosecuting pro-life activists, even though 100% of the overturning of Roe v. Wade’s resultant violence has been perpetrated by pro-abortion individuals and organizations.  

What are pro-life activists supposed to do when confronted by such unscrupulous injustice? In the face of so hypocritical a set of double-standards, what is the mission of the pro-life movement? Are we here to strike an equitable balance in the implementation of law? Is our task that of bringing about a society that respects life from conception until death? These are rightly-desired goals. We should want to bring them about. Nevertheless, is our mission, perhaps, more fundamental? Is its origin not a deeper source?

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15: 18-27)

This passage from the Gospel according to John suggests that we are fighting for something that reaches further. We are witnesses to the truth in a world that has rejected the truth in favor of a relativistic deification of the individual and his or her own personal concept of truth. As servants of the truth, we put ourselves at the disposal of transcendence. We understand that this world is not our final destination. Consequently, our aspirations are not for this life alone. Everything we hold sacred, namely life, is sacred because its worth transcends this life. Being aware of this, we do not despair when our efforts to not seem to bear fruit. We do not panic when the powers-that-be persecute us. We bear witness to the truth because the world needs to see signs of hope for more than the here-and-now.

The cause for life is not unlike the cause of the Maccabees in the Old Testament. After the death of Alexander the Great, one of his satraps established his rule over Israel. He meant to subdue them and force them to commit sacrileges against the Faith of Moses. During one episode, seven brothers were compelled to eat pork – something prohibited by kosher law. When they refused to comply, the brothers were tortured, one by one, in front of their mother. Before the seventh and youngest was put to the torments, the Greek king tried to reason with the mother, asking her to convince her son to capitulate. Instead, she encouraged him to die with the certainty that his witness would result in the reward of eternal life.

I beg you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. Thus also mankind comes into being. Do not fear the butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again with your brothers. (2 Maccabees 7:28-29)

This is our mission as combatants in the fight for life. We dream of a day in which the United States will cherish the most innocent among us and protect their fragile lives during gestation. But we dream such dreams because they stand upon a fundament of eternal life given us by a Creator who loves us all. The people of the world, especially those given over to evil, need someone to present them with the truth. It is the only chance they have to alter their course. This is what it means to be pro-life. 

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