Our Struggle for the Soul of our Nation

In remarks delivered yesterday at the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, Robert P. George reflected on the history of the pro-life movement and offered advice for its future.

Thirty-six years ago tomorrow, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its infamous decision in Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton. In the name of a generalized “right to privacy” allegedly implicit in the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, seven justices created a license to kill the unborn.

These men probably had no idea that they were unleashing a struggle for the soul of the nation. Five had been appointed by Republican presidents—two by Eisenhower, three by Nixon. Four of these five were regarded as “conservative,” “law and order” judges: Warren E. Burger, Potter Stewart, Lewis F. Powell, and Harry Blackmun. All no doubt believed that legal abortion was a humane and enlightened policy, one that would ease the burdens of many women and girls and relieve the enormous cost to society of a high birth rate among indigent (often unmarried) women. They seemed blithely to assume that abortion would be easily integrated into the fabric of American social and political life.

They were wrong on all counts.

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