By Jean Garton
Editor’s note. The late Dr. Garton authored one of the enduring classics of pro-life literature: “Who Broke the Baby? What the Abortion Slogans Really Mean. ” For decades she was a frequent contributor to National Right to Life News and National Right to Life News Today. We periodically repost one of her fabulous essays. This appeared in 2013.
Words have always intrigued me, so my ears perk up when I hear one that is new. That happened a few months ago when my garage door decided to have a hissy fit. It went up and down, down and up, merrily clanking and banging along the way. When the serviceman arrived to check it out he discovered the problem. “Yup,” he said. “It’s definitely whopperjawed.”
Whopperjawed!?! What kind of word is that? When I couldn’t find it in the dictionary, I turned to the current fount and source of all knowledge: Google. There it was: ”whopperjawed” meaning askew, misaligned, and twisted to one side. That obviously described my garage door but, more certainly, describes our country today.
Nothing has caused the United States to be more askew morally; more misaligned culturally; or more twisted legally than the Supreme Court’s 1973 opinion on abortion.
Every January, since that destructive action which has taken the lives of more than 55 million unborn babies [now more than 60 million] , Americans have gathered across the country to participate in the March for Life to mark the infamous date. This year, the 40th anniversary of that decision, there are again marches in communities, state capitals, and at the national Capitol in Washington.
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: There is nothing more powerful to dramatize a social evil than the tramp, tramp, tramp of marching feet. The thousands upon thousands of pro-life feet that will again march this year from one end of this country to the other serve to highlight the reality that there are two Americas—an America split over whether morality matters and whether truth matters.
The truth is that when life begins isn’t a matter of opinion any more. It is a matter of fact; of well-established science; and even of common knowledge. Anatomical studies have documented that the human body’s pain network is established by 20 weeks after fertilization, if not earlier. Neurologists report that unborn babies actually feel pain more intensely than do adults because the child’s pain-modifying system has barely begun to develop.
Given such medical evidence, is there any other conclusion we can draw except that abortion is inhumane and barbaric; a brutal action against the most defenseless of humans? The Right to Choose is simply a politically correct way to camouflage the torture and violence that abortion inflicts.
There is an adage that applies perfectly: people can have their own opinions, but they can’t have their own facts. And the fact is that today it is not enough to simply be human to enjoy the protection of the law. An unborn child must be a wanted human, a planned human, a human living outside the womb.
When it comes to abortion, the popular saying that “It’s Location, Location, Location,” takes on a life and death meaning. For all those helpless babies legally aborted since 1973, well, it’s just too bad. They were simply living in the wrong location.
So, here it is, 40 years later and males and females of all ages, colors, and political parties will gather to remember that day of injustice imposed by the Court in the name of choice. Some may wonder what good these events do anyway. I have wondered that myself as the years pass and the destruction continues. I participated in that first march in Washington and have joined a march in various states every year since 1973. What good does the tramp, tramp, tramp of feet do?
After the Court ruling I testified at hearings held by both the Senate and House on a Human Life Amendment. What good did those hearings do? I have given thousands of speeches, spoken numerous times in every state in the Union, and established the National Lutherans for Life organization. What good did any of those things do?
The answer is, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Pro-Lifers, more things accomplished by your voices and values, your commitment and courage, than are found in your wildest dreams.”
Every step, every word, every meeting, every assembly of like-minded witnesses is like precious gold! First, those all give voice to the unborn children who can’t speak for themselves. Secondly, they give encouragement to the men and women in government who advocate for the unborn and their mothers. Third, they help cheer us on, causing us to realize that we’re not fighting the battle alone. And, fourth, these events are a reminder to the media, candidates, and political parties of why we are single-issue voters.
Not because we don’t care about the economy and unemployment; about the environment, immigration, education, terrorism, or a host of other current issues. We are single-issue voters because a candidate’s position about the sanctity of human life reveals the character and values of that candidate.
The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus once put our responsibility this way: “So long as we have the gift of life we must protect the gift of life. So long as it is threatened, so long it must be defended. We have not yet seen the full fury of the storm that is upon us. But we have not the right to despair. Our entire struggle is premised not upon a victory to be achieved but a victory that has already been won.”
The Right to Choose has replaced what is right, and defending the right values and laws is seldom safe, easy, or popular. So it helps me to remember that ancient story when the giant, Goliath, came out against God’s people. The soldiers of Israel looked at that giant and thought: Ooh, he’s so big we can’t stop him.
But little David with his slingshot looked at that same giant and said: Ooh, he’s so big I can’t miss.
The mess surrounding the life issues–whopperjawed though it is–is sooo big, that we can’t miss either if we recognize the importance of our individual work and witness. As Charlton Heston, the late actor famous for his movie role as Moses, once said to the Arizona House of Representatives:
Political correctness is just tyranny with manners, so I wish for you to be un-popular. Popularity is just history’s pocket change. But courage … courage is history’s true currency.
The Psalmist said much the same: Be of good courage and the Lord will strengthen your heart. (Psalm 27:14)