New York and California had led the way to a radical liberalization of abortion laws, resulting in the deaths of millions of innocent babies. Once some states legalized abortion, the floodgates were open to all and it was only a matter of travel costs for those seeking abortions.
Fundamental rights can have some state-by-state differences (like free speech), but fundamental rights are not state issues. We fought a civil war over that very issue.
It made sense to have our first YAF meeting focus on the rapid growth of illegal abortions. Therese Willke and Chuck Donovan from Cincinnati, Ohio, both attended because they had been involved in the close fight to keep abortion illegal in Ohio. Therese’s parents, who were a doctor and a nurse, were early leaders in right to life. Therese’s mom also created a little silver pin of two tiny baby’s feet that is still used today.
Dr. Rice was already, pre-Roe v. Wade, the most feared pro-life speaker in the nation by the abortion advocates.
Our meeting had a small but respectable turnout in the late fall of 1972. Then on Jan. 22, 1973, the ground shifted.
In an incredibly poorly written political decision (not a legal one, there was no “right to privacy” on which the decision hinged), the Supreme Court banned prohibitions on abortion. Within hours, Dr. Rice met with Maryland Rep. Larry Hogan and sketched out the first Human Life Amendment, which was introduced almost immediately.
Back at Notre Dame, we formed a group called the Student Coalition for the Human Life Amendment with Therese Willke and I as co-chairmen, and Chuck as executive director. Dr. Rice was our faculty advisor.
Thirty-nine years ago on the first anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decision defenders of the right of innocent babies to live rather than be killed began marching as a sign of commitment to continuing efforts to overturn the decision.
Obviously none of us thought it would take this long. After the first few years, organizations were created to help young mothers cope with unexpected pregnancies as well as low-income moms or those without family support for their baby.
This Saturday at noon there will be yet another March for Life in downtown Fort Wayne. Until the slaughter stops, the marchers in the streets across America will be a silent testimony to the shame of our blood-stained nation.
Our hearts are broken over the tragic deaths of the schoolchildren in Connecticut, but they should also be for the tiny ones killed before they could even get to preschool.
Stand up and be counted at noon this Saturday. We’ll take a social issues moratorium when the killing ends.