The More Things Change…

Laura Strietmann, Contributor, originally published June 14, 2024, Messenger

Jubilation filled the hearts of pro-lifers two years ago in the month that the Catholic Church dedicates to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On June 24, 2022 a 50-year goal of the movement was reached when the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the egregious 1973 decision that legalized abortion for any reason in all 50 states.

Coupled with the 1973 Doe v Bolton decision, Roe forced our beautiful country to keep company with China, the USSR, and the few other nations that did not restrict abortion. Today, we are one of only seven countries in the world that permit elective abortion past 20 weeks of gestation.

To say that the 1973 Supreme Court decisions gravely deformed America is hardly an understatement. Besides the loss of more than 63 million preborn lives, the damage to families, women, men and our society over those 50 years is almost impossible to summarize.

In the two years since the jubilation and celebration of Roe’s demise, much has changed — yet much has stayed the same. We are living the paradoxical lesson of Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, who wrote in 1849, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

What things have changed?

  • A whirlwind of state laws protecting the preborn has swept across America.
  • Overall, 21 states now protect life in the womb to a greater extent than Roe allowed.
  • New pro-life laws were enacted here in Kentucky and our nearby neighbors of Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri and West Virginia.
  • In Kentucky and these border states, the rate of measurable abortions has plummeted to almost zero.  

Praise God for these changes to protect life in the womb! But while pro-life Kentuckians watch and pray, warning signs flash around us. 

  • In November 2023, Ohio voters enshrined abortion violence in the womb by amending the Buckeye state’s constitution.
  • Missouri and 11 others states may have abortion amendments on the ballot this November.
  • Our neighbor Illinois has seen astronomical growth in abortion since the fall of Roe, a 69% rise.
  • Out-of-state women accounted for 40% of Illinois’ abortions, double the prior rate.
  • Nationally, at least one in five abortions comes from this so-called abortion tourism.  

And while the patchwork of state regulations has changed the geography of abortion vastly, the change is not just in state lines. With or without access to an abortionist, women can take the lives of their children at home through self-administered chemical abortion. Self-administered chemical abortion rates have risen dramatically in recent years and are now estimated at nearly 60% of all abortions. These numbers do not show up in official state abortion tallies.

Yet more change could be on the way. Here in June, the month of the Sacred Heart, pro-lifers await another major decision by the Supreme Court. The FDA v Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine case was heard in March and will determine the legal standing of the use of the chemical abortion drug mifepristone, key to the at-home abortion regimen.

So, amidst all this flux, turbulence and change, does anything stay the same?  

Yes! The truth of our Catholic faith has stayed the same from the beginning of time. Now and always Jesus Christ is Redeemer, Son of God, second Person of the Trinity and Lord of all creation. In time and for eternity, Jesus came to rescue humanity from our sins. Praise God, and thank Him for His unchanging love, the love that sustains us as we work and pray in defense of every human life.

It is also an unchanging truth that each life is precious because only human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. “God created man in His image; in the divine image He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). Using the word “created” three times emphasizes the importance of humans, the pinnacle of all creation. To create is deliberately to bring into existence, and no person, born or unborn, is a mere clump of cells. Each of us has been called into existence with a divine plan and purpose.

Nor has God changed His command to bear new life and to love children: “Be fertile and multiply” (Gen.1:28). Over and over God has shown how much He loves children: “Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). He knows each child in the womb, created in His image and likeness: “For You drew me forth from the womb, made me safe at my mother’s breasts…. Since my mother bore me You are my God” (Ps.22:10–11).  

Unchanged too is God’s commandment to love and serve the poor, the least among us and all who are outcast by the world. “This is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should love one another, unlike Cain who belonged to the evil one and slaughtered his brother” (1 Jn. 3:11–12). Surely children in the womb are the poorest, relying completely on another, their mother. Today the preborn are the most outcast in America, and the 50-year toll of elective abortion surpasses the total of all American soldiers killed in every war.

Cincinnati Right to Life has been protecting life for over 50 years, and with God’s grace this will not change. Though abortion borders, laws and methods will shift, though evil increases and multiplies, we will hold firm. With all pro-lifers, we proclaim and uphold the beauty and sanctity of life, and we trust that our efforts will strengthen and flourish by remaining rooted in the truth of Christ.

Laura Strietmann, Executive Director of Cincinnati Right to Life, has been working in the pro-life movement for 17 years.