Reversal of Fortune
There just had to be a better way. Wadded bread left something to be desired. And so the rubber eraser was born — though quite by accident. The year was 1770. Thinking he was picking up wadded breadcrumbs to erase a mistake, English optician Edward Naire mistakenly picked up a piece of rubber. It worked even better than the crumbs. Go figure.
It’s part of our nature to err. Worse, some errors can’t be erased. Napolean thought he could successfully invade Russia in the winter. So did Hitler. The Titanic sank because the sailor watching for icebergs didn’t have binoculars. They had been safely stored in a locker, but the man with the key was not on board. A few years later, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated when his chauffer took a wrong turn on the way to a hospital, where Ferdinand planned to visit victims of a just-failed attack on his life. The turn led him past one of the failed assassins, who succeeded this time. The event sparked World War I.
But what’s the worst blunder of all time, the one with the deadliest consequences? It’s happening right now, and right here. We have fooled ourselves to accepting as a so-called “freedom” the right to decide whether an unborn baby, a gift of God, will live or die. We have granted ourselves the license to kill an entire class of human beings for no greater reason than they remain alive. We have defined humanity in terms of its perceived value to a parent rather than its inherent dignity in the eyes of God. The result is shocking. Since 1973, about 56 million unborn babies have been legally killed.
One of the reasons abortion is so bad is that it is almost always irreversible. Most abortions are surgical, meaning that the unborn babies are usually vacuumed from a mother’s womb or dismembered limb by limb. A baby cannot survive. But today, abortions are also performed chemically using RU-486, pills approved in 2000 by the FDA during the Clinton administration. A woman is given mifepristone, which over a 36-72 hour period breaks down the mucus membrane lining her womb. As the membrane deteriorates and the baby’s placenta detaches from the wall of the uterus, the baby suffocates. The woman is then given misoprostol, which induces contractions needed to expel the dead baby. By no means is the process safe. Women go through it at home, away from often-needed medical care. RU-486 has injured at least 1,100 women, and by the FDA’s own account, killed 14 others. If a candy bar caused such carnage, it would have been pulled from the market and never allowed to return.
But the good news is that scientists have discovered that in some cases, the process can be reversed. If the baby is still alive, a woman can receive shots of progesterone — a woman’s hormone that prepares the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone overwhelms the mifepristone, which stops the deterioration and prevents detachment. A study has shown that the procedure works in most cases. For Rebekah Buell, fear and confusion led her to take mifepristone. She immediately regretted her decision. She found help through a service that directed her to a doctor willing to give her the injections. Today her son is two years old. The procedure has helped many women reverse a very bad choice. A website has been created provide more information to women and physicians. Rebekah has become an advocate for laws requiring abortion providers to tell women that the procedure can be reversed.
But abortion advocates are not pleased that lives can be saved. Planned Parenthood even brought suit to block an Arizona law, one of several in the nation, requiring that full disclosure to women about the possibility of abortion reversal. In California, legislators refused to pass a similar bill. And now the FDA has extended from 49 to 70 days the time period when RU-486 may be administered to a woman, an extension that will kill and injure even more. Unfortunately, many people who run the current government, and many who are now seeking office, want abortion to remain legal no matter how many women and babies are killed or injured. Recently, Congressional Democrats unsuccessfully attempted to stop the investigation of Planned Parenthood over the sale of body parts. And they opposed a bill authorizing funds to combat the Zika virus because the bill did not provide money for abortion.
How do we reverse the attitudes and laws destroying the fabric of society? We should look at the history of the civil rights movement. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed the slaves, but it did not set black people on an equal footing with whites. Soon after the war, state governments enacted Jim Crow laws designed to establish legal segregation covering virtually all forms of interaction, whether schools, restaurants, parks, theatres, and even restrooms. By 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the notion of “separate but equal.” The separation was bad enough, and in fact blacks were never treated as equal.
The heroes of the civil rights movement realized that as they tirelessly worked to change the hearts and minds of Americans, they also needed to change the laws. In 1954, the Supreme Court outlawed school segregation. In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, though not without significant opposition. It gave blacks legal protection. They could become the integral parts of society they were meant to be. And as a nation, we have gained so much for it.
That’s what the unborn need: an opportunity to be. But it won’t happen without a change in the attitude and policies of government. Hillary Clinton says that the unborn have no Constitutional right to life, and for now, she has Supreme Court precedent on her side. But that error can be reversed, too. We, the People, must overwhelm government with people willing to stand for life. It will take our willingness to speak out in parishes, workplaces, and homes. And it will take our votes. Catholics will decide the future of legal abortion.
So let history repeat itself. For the unborn and us, may we know a reversal of fortune.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.