The Sound of Empty
It had few rivals, perhaps only recess. It was always a welcome reprieve from the rigors of doing arithmetic, a temporary respite from the burdens of memorizing prepositions, a timely break from the monotony of practicing penmanship. A time to sit up and take notice. It was show-and-tell time.
Every year, one of our classmates took a winter vacation with his family. He’d always come back to school donning a suntan and carrying a seashell. But not just one of those little shells scattered all over the Florida beaches. No, he’d bring back one of those big conch shells — so big that a kid needed two hands to hold it. The shell had colors not even found in a box of 64 crayons. Perfect show-and-tell material. After telling us about his vacation, he’d drop the bomb: “if you put your ear to this shell, you can hear the ocean.” Whoa! We were in Illinois, about as far from the ocean as it gets. “And you say we can hear the ocean?” We had to try it out. Sure enough, it was true! At least for a couple years, that’s what we thought. But eventually there came a time when we realized that we weren’t hearing the ocean. There was a sound all right, but it was a hollow sound. The sound of empty.
On the day after the presidential inauguration, the Women’s March was held in Washington D.C. The march was called to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world.” It desired to be diverse and to honor the champions of “human rights, dignity, and justice.” It professed the overarching principle that “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” The march was committed to ending violence and promoting LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice. The list also included the protection of reproductive rights, most notably, “safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location, or education.” The call to action was far and wide; the crowds were big. But in the end, the sounds from the march were hollow.
It’s because for all its many causes, the march was orchestrated mainly to preserve and promote abortion. The clues were pretty obvious, with the first clue being the march’s sponsorship. The exclusive premiere sponsor was Planned Parenthood. According to records, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 medical and surgical abortion in 2014, about 35% of all abortions nationwide. The average cost is around $500. There’s big money in killing. But there’s trouble on the horizon. Given a chance, the next appointed Supreme Court justice will likely vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. And Congress may soon vote to strip Planned Parenthood of over $500 million in annual taxpayer money. Planned Parenthood is fighting for its life — ironic given the amount of life it so gladly destroys. It’s rolling out all the stops.
Another clue: during the week before the march, three pro-life organizations that signed on as sponsors were unceremoniously informed that their sponsorship had been revoked. And Then There Were None, headed by former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, Stanton Healthcare, a crisis pregnancy center, and New Wave Feminists, a pro-life group, were all given the boot. Apparently, when it comes to abortion, those women who oppose it aren’t women enough. So much for inclusivity and diversity.
And then there was the organizers’ claim that the “right” to abortion is a human right. History shows that it was more empty rhetoric. In response to the atrocities of World War II, in 1948 the United Nations approved its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Modeled after the Declaration of Independence, its drafters included human rights champion Eleanor Roosevelt. The U.N. Declaration recognizes that the “inherent dignity” and “inalienable rights” of all humans are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace. “Inherent dignity” means that no person or constitution bestows it. It comes from God. An “inalienable right” is one that no person or constitution can take away. The U.N. Declaration proclaims, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Its list of human rights is long, but the right to kill is not on it. Not an unborn child. Not anyone.
So were Roosevelt, her colleagues, and the entire U.N. membership just behind the times? Not a chance. They knew about abortion; it didn’t first rear its ugly head in 1949. Rather, the right to kill is not part of the U.N. Declaration because it is contrary to the principle that the essential quality of a right is that it should promote the common good. A right must benefit all it touches. Everyone has a right to an adequate standard of living, but a poor person has no right to steal, even from a rich man. Likewise, everyone has a right to be free, but no one may kill so he can live as he wants. There’s a simple test of whether a way of acting is a “right”: would it make God happy? Deep down, no one believes that God is happy with the killing of His unborn so that others can be “free.” It’s why abortion supporters don’t finish the phrase, “freedom to choose.” They can’t in good conscience. They know what it means.
Amazingly, the “guiding principle” of the women’s march was that “nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.” The point of the march was to demand the right to legally commit one of the most heinous acts of this or any age. Pure and simple, abortion is the intentional killing of another human for the simple reason that she lives. An unborn baby cannot run or hide. Trapped in a womb, she is dismembered and then junked. That’s violence with a capital V. And as for courage, courageous people protect life—even at great risk to themselves. Sadly, whether the marchers realized it or not, their chants can be summed up as “Me first, last, and always!” That’s no one’s definition of courage.
At his inaugural, President Trump said that wherever they live, children “are infused with the breath of life by the same Almighty Creator.” Until those who promote death over life recognize that basic truth, their words will remain as they are: empty as a seashell.
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.