Roe v. Wade + 40: J’accuse

All day, I thought about how to address the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. How do you adequately commemorate 55 million murdered children in a Facebook status or a blog post?

For the crime cannot — must not — be observed only in silent prayer, lest it be buried under the euphemisms of this generation, and the forgetfulness of all generations to come. Those children, who now number more than all those killed in all the world by the reign of Adolf Hitler, must not be deprived of the prayers and memoriams owed them by the nation who deprived them of nearly their entire lives. To forget them would be an even greater injustice than killing them in the first place. Some commemoration, however small, is demanded, before the silent prayers may begin.

But every commemoration reads like an accusation. Simply by remembering the dead, by acknowledging what we, the People, took from them, we are accusing our colleagues, our politicians, our friends, our sisters and brothers, our fathers, our mothers, our sons and daughters — and ourselves — of murder and complicity in murder. Even at an innocent request for prayers, they take umbrage.

They have a point: if those children were killed, it was not just those who held the knife who killed them. It was those who went to the operating table and asked a doctor to kill their child. It was those who pressured their friends and loved ones to consider that “choice.” It was those who agreed to “support” their friends no matter what. It was those of us who failed to help — who failed to reach out to mothers and fathers in need and fill those needs, instead allowing fear to coerce them into murder. It was those of us who voted to make it legal, and it was those of us who have allowed it to remain legal, despite the terrible human cost, because incremental compromise is more comfortable than revolt.

If those children were killed, then we are all murderers.

I cannot escape the accusation, and so I must embrace it. You stand accused. Those of you who are not actually murderers (as several of my friends are) are accessories to it, differentiated from one another only by the degree of your complicity.  So am I.

Yesterday was Inauguration Day, and so it seems appropriate to observe that, if God wills that all the wealth piled by the infant’s forty years of unrequited suffering shall be sunk, and that every drop of blood drawn with the curette shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.

And let us never forget, not for a moment, that this is who we are. Not a shining city on a hill. Not a bridge to the next century. Not a haven for the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We are a gang of callous killers, frittering away our lives in a culture built on a foundation of 55 million unnamed and unnameable skulls.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated.

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