Put Out into the Deep

There Can Be No Freedom to Destroy Life

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

The infamous Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, that legalized abortion in the United States on January 22, 1973, was commemorated and protested during the March for Life on January 24. Catholic and Orthodox bishops of the United States were present to open the March with a prayer at noon.

The rally was immediately followed by a march to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court. But perhaps the most significant part of this year’s March was the appearance of President Trump. He is the first President of the United States to speak in person at a March for Life. “All of us here today understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and sanctity of every human life,” the President told the crowds. “I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policies or that encourages the destruction of human life … Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”

The President’s support is crucial, given the expanded abortion laws that have been passed in states like New York. Even more significant is the two Supreme Court Justices he has appointed; Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have records of anti-abortion positions.

The Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion, as some have said in the past, was misguided. Most poignantly, was the decision by the Supreme Court in Plessy vs. Ferguson that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation.

Fortunately, that horrendous decision of the Supreme Court was basically overturned in future years. And so, it may be with Roe vs. Wade. Most probably, there was a mistake in interpreting that the right to an elective abortion was somehow found in the Constitution as a correlator of the right to privacy. There are some that feel that more conservative justices might overturn this decision. However, this still would be a political decision and not one based on understanding the Constitution and the law.

Unfortunately, this week the Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision to bar the enforcement of a strict interpretation of immigration laws that prevent potential Green Card recipients (permanent residents) from obtaining that status because they have accepted some type of public assistance (e.g. food stamps or any other welfare benefits).

Some have said that the Court was reacting to an avalanche of lower court decisions prohibiting the government from carrying out normal administrative work. However, the public charge requirement that immigrants not become dependent on the government has long been part of immigration law for over a century. The initial intent of the law certainly did not foresee any use of the social safety net available for the last fifty years that supports low-income workers and their families with such necessities as adequate food.

It is unfortunate that some believe that stacking the Supreme Court in one way or another is a privilege of the sitting President of the United States or of the ruling party of government. The Supreme Court was established in our system of government to interpret the laws passed by Congress. If some legal basis for a law could not be found in our Constitution, it remains the prerogative of the Legislative Branch of government to enact legislation that is for the common good of all citizens regarding something not found in the Constitution. It is unfortunate that this understanding of our system of government seems not to be understood by many.

Some great events in conjunction with the March for Life are a Vigil for Life Mass that occurs the night before at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, and the youth rally and Mass for Life, which each year occurs hours before the big March. The young people finish their early morning rally and join the main March, which ends at the Supreme Court.

Literally, over 100,000 young people participate in these events each year. This is a great sign for the future, since our young people do not see the Constitution as interpreted by our Supreme Court to be unchangeable. The youth protest because they see a value in life that older generations, unfortunately, have forgotten because of expediency and an exaggerated understanding of human freedom. There can be no freedom to destroy life at its very beginning, or its natural end.

The youth rally strives to encourage our youth to participate in the March for Life. Their witness is as disciples of Christ and promoters of the Gospel of Life. This rally has become a national and international event with pilgrims traveling from as far from Australia. This reminds us that the future is in the hands of our young people. Hopefully, they will prevail in understanding the value of the preservation of the Right to Life in our country.

As these pilgrims put out into the deep seeking the Right to Life for all human lives in the United States, we join with them in prayer so that their aspirations will, with the help of God, be realized.

Follow Bishop DiMarzio on Twitter @BpDiMarzio