An Americans United for Life lawyer has faith in both the cause and the strength of the pro-life movement.
By Guest Blogger Denise M. Burke
Earlier this year, I celebrated my tenth year as an attorney with Americans United for Life (AUL), the nation's oldest, national pro-life organization. On such an occasion, it was impossible not to "take stock" and reflect on what the pro-life movement has accomplished and on the challenges that remain.
As I surveyed the past decade, I drew a great deal of sustenance and even pride from the pro-life movement's progress toward a renewed culture of life. We have persevered in the face of substantial and sustained obstacles. And we have succeeded in influencing both the law and the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens–much to the consternation of the intellectual and media "elites" who are desperate to have us believe that the time for meaningful "debate" is over and those supporting abortion, destructive human embryo research, euthanasia, and other elements of the anti-life agenda have prevailed.
But, have you noticed how desperate anti-life forces now seem to be to believe their own rhetoric? Or how assiduously they attempt to avoid any real debate of the issues? They want to declare a premature "victory" because they cannot comprehend that a majority of Americans now identify themselves as "pro-life" and refuse to accept a radical "status quo" of abortion-on-demand, the willful destruction of nascent human life, and the increasing victimization of the sick, the elderly, and the disabled.
The inability of anti-life forces to declare legitimate "victory" is a direct result of the unwavering commitment of pro-life Americans who refused to accept "defeat." Instead, we courageously continue to speak the truth, to insist that life issues remain central to our political debates, and to exercise (and vote) our consciences and encourage others to do the same.
As Father Richard John Neuhaus, a stalwart of the pro-life movement and a member of AUL's Board of Advisors, observed just before his death, "Whatever else it is, the pro-life movement of the last 30-plus years is one of the most massive and sustained expressions of citizen participation in the history of the United States." It is this sustained "citizen participation" that animates our movement and that will lead it to ultimate victory.
People often ask me why I choose to dedicate myself to the pro-life movement. My answer is simple: It is the right thing to do. My Catholic faith, which fully informs my personal and professional life, tells me that my work and commitment honor my Lord and are of great value to my church and my community.
I persevere because of the character and dedication of the pro-life Americans that I daily come into contact with. And, finally, I continue to fight because we are winning. Individual by individual and law by law, we are helping to create a revitalized culture, as Neuhaus envisioned, "in which everyone will be welcomed in life and protected in law."
Guest Blogger Denise M. Burke is Vice President of Legal Affairs for Americans United for Life.
Posts from other pro-life advocates will be posted throughout Respect Life Month (October) at uscatholic.org/pro-life.
Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic,its editors, or the Claretians.