Roe v. Wade, Compassion & the Risen Christ

by Deirdre A. McQuade
April 21, 2006

"Peace be with you."

So speaks the risen Lord to his terrified disciples when he suddenly appears among them in the upper room. Our Christian faith calls us to reject the spirit of fear and anxiety and rely upon the providence of God, who is merciful and all-loving. He is our refuge in times of trouble.

By contrast, pro-abortion rhetoric incites fear that without access to abortion women will be abandoned in their hour of need. Abortion advocates treat Roe v. Wade as sacrosanct legal precedent. They talk of the need to protect "reproductive rights" as if on par with protecting women's very lives.

But the experience of many women attests to the opposite: abortion makes them particularly vulnerable to abandonment. Legalized abortion has made it easy for others to pressure women. Rather than rallying to care for a woman's needs, those around her may pressure her to resort to the apparent "quick fix" of abortion.

Some abortion supporters, such as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, say abortion should be readily available to women but rare. But Roe v. Wade, read with its companion case Doe v. Bolton, has no limits. In fact, over the past 33 years, Supreme Court decisions on abortion have curtailed the States' ability to pass protective legislation for women and their unborn children.

Since most Americans continue to believe that Roe allows for meaningful restrictions on abortion, it bears repeating: Abortion — for virtually any reason, throughout all nine months of pregnancy, with no significant legal barriers — is the law of our land.

What is true compassion? And what will it take to make abortion rare, if not unthinkable, in our country? Advocating for women means refusing to accept the violence of abortion as a solution. Abortion doesn't solve problems, it only introduces new ones.

In my counseling work at a pregnancy care center, I met many women considering abortion. They were scared and overwhelmed at the thought of facing an unplanned pregnancy. Some were shocked that the birth control they put their trust in had failed. Some wanted to give birth, but were being pressured by their boyfriends or parents who said that abortion would be the "best option" under the circumstances. Others were being coerced by threats of being abandoned emotionally and financially.

But fear did not have the final word. While they couldn't change the past or other circumstances outside their control, many courageous women decided to continue their pregnancies, encouraged by others who were committed to helping them make good decisions for themselves and their children in the future.

Because Christ rose from the dead, we have the courage to pray: "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety..." Let the whole Church work toward the day when every life is welcomed, every woman is honored, and abortion is unthinkable.

Deirdre A. McQuade is director of planning and information, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.