Roe v. Wade v. Eternity

It is good news, that after half a century America is returning to the rule of law, and that extravagant legal fictions – in the name of privacy – are now being exposed as such by a majority of the Court.

We guess this from a Court decision leaked, probably for the political motives of a rogue law clerk. We can see the fight that is coming, but things could be worse in America. In Canada, for instance, there has been no restriction whatever on abortions through four decades, and this has contributed to making the culture even more poisonous.

But let me indulge celestial aloofness for a brief moment, before returning to this world of mud.  For I had grown old in the silly belief that Roe v. Wade would permanently disfigure our world of law, throughout the West and not just in the compartments between two seas.

The political passions that have been expressed, both for and against the rights of women, and babies, may still prove to be premature. It all balances on a single Court decision, made and then removed. A jungle of bureaucratic measures may be ushered in, by the party that feels aggrieved by the removal. But this does not seem likely in the present political climate.

Demonstrations, expressing the violent rage of the Left, have become a commonplace in our Western democracies. But so long as their radical demands are ignored, and police are sufficiently trained and armed to maintain order, there should be peace growing on the various social fronts. For Roe v. Wade was the signal of ungodliness. It was the great canker within the nation’s laws, and it inspired lawlessness.

It was at the very front of the battle for “modernity,” that has branched out in all the cardinal directions, and given the outward impression of moral change – in apparent improvements as well as in decline. A new post-Christian order has been descending through the darkness; a night for faith and reason in our times.

A man, for instance, can cease to be a man, or a woman a woman, by one absurd extension of this “woman’s right” – beyond even womanhood. The right to die, with official medical “assistance,” has come to divide the public in the same way. By the progress of technology, more post-human “reforms” are suggested.

Conscience, too, is made unstable through the technical transitions. Our very perception of right and wrong is changed. And yet truth cannot change, in substance.

Much of the opposition to abortions is merely distaste. It can be overcome, with training and practice; meanwhile, distaste can be mistaken for a moral objection. The killing of unborn children is an icky thing to witness, as is also the killing of the already born, and their elders, in war. But the objection becomes less forceful as the evidence becomes less immediate. It can be put entirely out of mind.


I noticed this with a news clip from Shanghai. Local officials were rounding up the pet cats of those they had thrown into quarantine for COVID. They were mewing haplessly in streetside bags, waiting for the officials who would come to smash their brains in. Western television is rather prissy, so the latter stages of this feline massacre were edited out. The thought of crushing sweet, defenseless little kittens, &c, might disturb us “unnecessarily.”

Yet this is only sentimentalism. Blood, for us, belongs in stockyards, where animals are killed more humanely.

When my maternal grandpa had to shoot a favorite dog, he took this trusting companion for a long and enjoyable walk, like old times. He pointed suddenly to the horizon, and when the dog turned, the bullet was correctly placed. He loved that dog. Curiously, this made his stance towards it moral.

Babies in the womb naturally look the other way. We have, thanks to improvements in technology, now become quite clear that they can feel, much like the born. This has increased the “icky” factor for those not determined to block it out.

For if we don’t actually grasp the argument for the sacredness of human life – which is absolute, not relative – we can always find an out. We can devise a “procedure” that will be painless, to ourselves and the victim. And any by-products of this meat-packing operation, such as remunerative baby parts, can be professionally wrapped and refrigerated for later use.

This removes any objection that can be founded on “ickiness,” and thus removes any objection to the “woman’s right” (and its extension to the professionals at her service in the abortuary).

There seems broad public agreement that a woman has the right to an abortion in the first trimester, diminishing sharply in the second, and practically disappearing in the third. The trend of public opinion has fluctuated, but essentially upon this scheme.

Similarly, the difference of opinion between women and men, for unsurprisingly, opposition to killing children among women is higher. They can have babies, and they can better imagine what is involved; men need bother only on behalf of a partner, and so are, statistically, more distant.

The human right to life does not balance on ickiness, of course, but on philosophical, legal, and theological propositions. The changes depend less on aesthetic whim, more on the parents and society among whom the children are raised.

In all Christian environments, the idea of “right to life” is inculcated. Reason is adduced in support of it, and that reason can be (fairly easily) understood. When young people adopt progressive views in college, or wherever, it is generally because they are discarding religion.

There will never be time to enumerate the many consequences, subtle and overt, of this apostasy, but here at the decisive point of this issue, the decision becomes simple indeed – although it may be incredibly painful. Many small details are resolved within the one larger question: There is God, or there is no god

*Image: The Newborn (Le Nouveau-Né) by Georges de La Tour, 1645 [Museum of Fine Arts Rennes, France]. For several centuries, the painting was misattributed both in terms of the artist and the subject, which was considered a simple domestic scene. Today, however, scholars believe La Tour’s painting depicts St. Anne, the Blessed Virgin, and the newborn Christ Child.

You may also enjoy:

Filip Mazurczak’s Time to Preach to the Non-Converted on Abortion

Robert Royal’s On Joe Biden and Judging Souls

David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: