As the astounding news that Roe v. Wade had been overturned sank in, names came flooding to my mind: Joan Andrews Bell, Monica Miller, David Daleiden, Pat Mahoney, Randall Terry, Joe Scheidler, and Jack Willke are a few examples. You, reader, wouldn’t recognize some of the names that also came to my mind: my compatriots in activist pro-life work over the years who were willing to do the hard things—block clinic entrances, enter clinics, spend time in jail, pray outside the clinics and counsel women in freezing rain or blazing heat, run pregnancy centers, expose the fetal tissue research industry, and speak to college students about abortion and youth about chastity. You know people like this, too; you know their names.
Other names came later: those who wrote poignantly and uncompromisingly about abortion for decades, who were unwilling to give an inch. From Anthony Esolen to John Zmirak, I am grateful for you. You never allowed Americans to forget the ongoing holocaust of our most defenseless citizens. In other western nations abortion has become a non-issue, but not here.
In spite of all the rosy pictures this monumental blessing conjures up in our minds about these five decades of pro-life work, many of us are also aware of one open secret in the movement: we disagree a lot.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
Should legislation be incremental or all-or-nothing? Should non-abortifacient contraception be illegal? Is blocking clinic entrances right or wrong? What about dismantling abortion equipment? Should pro-life chastity education for youth have a Christian or a secular basis? Which hotel should host our conference? Is the dress blue or gold?
I remember when the National Organization of Women won a racketeering case against Joe Scheidler and other pro-life leaders, having alleged that their work to end abortion in America was so highly organized that it qualified as a conspiratorial effort. As frustrating as it was, we also had to laugh. They really think pro-lifers are that organized? That we can agree on enough things to form a conspiracy? I wish!
Once when I got out of jail from a rescue, I asked one of my friends how things had been in the men’s holding cell. He said it was fine except for all the arguing. “Among the drunks?” I asked. “No, the pro-lifers started debating sola scriptura.”
In spite of our frequent inability to agree, which really is not too surprising given that none of us were saints, through God’s grace the pro-life movement had amazing achievements. Yet with all the prayers, all the work, all the suffering over 50 years, God chose June 24, 2022 for His moment of utter mercy. Why might this be?
I’ll get to the feasts in a moment. I think we first need to go back a little ways. Something happened in 2021, and it didn’t have a whole lot to do with the big names in the movement. In 2021 America saw the release of the Covid vaccines, injections brought to market using HEK-293, a fetal stem cell line propagated from an aborted baby who has been given the only gift we can bestow on a murdered and destroyed baby: a name, Johanna. Johanna’s cells were used to develop or test three of the four available Covid-19 injections, while the fourth used stem cells from another aborted baby.
How did we respond? As I’ve written about here and here, rank-and-file pro-lifers were sickened. For once, we agreed. Everyone whose heart was truly with the unborn quickly realized the moral problem presented by the Covid vaccines. With their release coming at the same time as ever-increasing and horrifying revelations about the use of fetal tissue, many individuals had simply had enough.
Sure, they’d prayed for an end to abortion, they’d gone to the March for Life for years, they were dedicated to supporting their local pregnancy care centers, they’d voted pro-life, boycotted the right companies, and stood up for life in debates with their friends or family. But now their beliefs were going to really cost them. They were going to lose their jobs—or in some cases their whole careers. They were not going to be able to go to their chosen college. They would not be able to visit their aging parents. The rubber met the road.
And we passed the test. A pharmacist was fired because he refused to administer the vaccine…A hospital insurance processor took an entry level job in a new field to get out of the healthcare industry… A 30-year veteran teacher was forced out of her school system…A priest was willing to sign religious exemptions in spite of pressure not to do so…A breadwinner of a large family risked his job rather than comply with a vaccine mandate…A career military dad had to leave the Air Force without his benefits because of his refusal to take the jab…
And these real life examples? Multiply them by thousands.
This wasn’t as simple as skipping Starbucks. American pro-life souls were willing to make serious personal sacrifices rather than benefit in any way from the sin of abortion. Thankfully, because of religious exemptions and a few key court victories, some of those willing to risk so much to defend the unborn did not have to follow through with their sacrifice in the end, but many did.
As much gratitude as I have for the pro-life leaders—the big names—who inspired me and guided me in my pro-life work, I am proudest of you hidden heroes. You were only revealed by the diabolical process that brought us the Covid vaccines, and few of us know your names. But when the moment of truth came, your convictions withstood the intense pressures of the regime that surrounds us. You stood by those truly nameless little ones whose only voice is ours.
In the profound working of God’s unfathomable providence, Roe was overturned on June 24, when the feast of the Sacred Heart of our dear Lord converged with the feast of St. John the Baptist. Overflowing love meets unshakeable moral conviction in these two feasts, and this is no coincidence.
St. John the Baptist refused to wink at the sin of Herod, and he publicly called him to repentance. He gave his life to uphold the moral law. You who were willing to sacrifice rather than accept a jab tainted by abortion did likewise. Perhaps you felt your stance was small in the grand scheme of things. I would say that our Lord has shown us otherwise. Your choice was rooted in sacrificial love like that of His own Sacred Heart. He honored that gift—those thousands of gifts from the lifeblood of American pro-lifers.
As I look now to the future, I still see serious threats to the unborn, and I don’t have answers as to how to effectively defeat them all. I do know that it will take tremendous ingenuity, dedication, and hard work. It will take the abundant love from the heart of our Lord and the great moral conviction of many living John the Baptists. We need to lay down our lives. Thanks be to God, you hidden heroes have shown us we can.
[Image Credit: Unsplash]