AUZENNE: Skip the pro-life victory parade, it’s time to get to work in this post-Roe world

January 10, 2023

On Jan. 23, American Catholics will once again observe the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn. On this day, our bishops ask us to commemorate the passage of the tragic Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in our country by engaging in acts of prayer and fasting.

But this year will be very different from previous years. With the overturn of Roe v. Wade, many in the pro-life movement feel that the battle to protect the unborn is finished — and we won. After years of setbacks and disappointments, it is certainly tempting to see this year’s March for Life as a victory parade.

At the risk of raining on the parade, I would like to take a moment to consider our new, post-Roe reality.

For nearly 50 years in this country, legalized abortion was sold as a panacea for problems we did not have the will to address. For poor women and women of color with limited access to medical services, abortion was “health care.” For families facing the emotional and financial challenges of a prenatal diagnosis, abortion was a “compassionate choice.” For young women who felt pressured to choose between having a child or having a career, abortion was “freedom.”

Abortion was the lid we placed on an unholy Pandora’s box of health care disparity, employment discrimination, and anti-family work culture. Now that the lid is lifted, we are confronted, as never before, by women who are struggling to give birth to their babies in these challenging circumstances. How will we respond?

In his statement following the overturning of Roe V. Wade, Chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities Archbishop William E. Lori writes:

“In a post-Roe world, Catholics... must move beyond a paradigm shift in the law in order to help the people of our nation better see who we can be as a nation by truly understanding what we owe to one another as members of the same human family. To build a world in which all are welcome, we must heed the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta and remember ‘that we belong to one another.’”

Building a “world in which all are welcome” requires dedicated commitment to the vulnerable among us — born and unborn — who most need our help. What kind of world do we want to welcome these children into? How can we dismantle obstacles that prevent them from thriving? How can we promote a true culture of life, one which values parenting and family?

These are the pressing pro-life issues that must be addressed in our post-Roe reality.

Certainly, there is a time and place for marches — maybe even the occasional parade. But let us not forget that real work is not marching; it is in walking alongside our sisters and brothers in need. 

Amy Auzenne, MSW, MACE, is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.

(CNS photo)