For forty-one years America has grown sick under the shadow of legalized abortion. For forty-one years Americans have gathered at the nation’s capital to march in protest. For forty-one years, over forty-one million American babies have been butchered before they could even be born. Abortion is perhaps the single most egregious evil in the history of the human race; and in America, not only is it regarded as commonplace but as common sense.
“It’s about acting responsibly,” says an ad for an over-the-counter, morning-after abortifacient called Plan B – One Step, which also sports the slogan “Helps Prevent Pregnancy.” It is well beyond the pale of comprehension how truth in advertising—by some logic or magic—no longer applies when it comes to abortion. Lies are acceptable when they are convenient. Deception in advertising is permissible in order to give people the power of choice—the power to choose between life and death, to be a parent or an executioner. Any other advertisement that portrays a falsehood seems bound to lay bare its fiction. “Fantasy, do not attempt. Cars can’t jump on trains.” Nevertheless, the basic, irrefutable scientific facts that accompany the biological condition that Plan B – One Step alters is simply not a prevention. It is an abortion. In a sense, abortion is birth control—so why not treat it like one? “Emergency contraception,” they call it.
Has the world gone mad? Sadly, incurably so. And, of course, anyone who thinks this of the world will be labeled as the lunatic.
The media takes the March for Life just about as seriously as if it were a parade of clowns. (In fact, a gathering of hundreds of thousands of clowns would almost certainly receive more attention.) The world is impregnable in its insanity, and so must the sane go about as fools. As a result, the March elicits mixed feelings from many supporters. These feel that the March is futile, but would still grieve if it did not occur. This paradox is a very poignant one, for it highlights that some things are worth fighting for even if they cannot be won. The men and women and children who gather at Washington DC in the teeth of inclement weather are like so many Don Quixotes, charging so many gigantic windmills. Is there a fool’s hope for victory? Not in the foreseeable future. Is there a soldier’s hope for glory in solidarity? Certainly. Would it be tragic if that cause were ever surrendered? Absolutely. The March for Life is just as worthy a sally as that immortal charge outside la Mancha—both done in the name of a law that is higher than man’s and by a chivalry that defends the helpless.
Another martial strain that agrees with the ethos of the March for Life is G. K. Chesterton’s “Ballad of the White Horse.” Alfred the conquered king is not afraid to suffer further humiliation at the hands of the conquering Danes so long as they are suffered for the right reason. His language, and the language of his vision of the Mother of God, could form the marching refrains for the Pro-Life movement in the United States. “The men that drink the blood of God go singing to their shame.” And so do the soldiers of Christ at the March for Life, bearing “joy without a cause” and “faith without a hope.” And so will those who value the sanctity of life gather and march for thrice forty-one years and more to proclaim to the enemies of life, “you are more tired of victory than we are of shame,” with “more lust again to lose than you to win again.”
There is great and venerable tradition in the Catholic Faith of standing up to seemingly unstoppable forces for the sake of the Truth. It is to those heroes of the Church that the marchers in DC should turn their minds and prayers as they tread the mall in a similar cause, though the whole world heckles them as idiots and fanatics. In 1571, Don John of Austria reminded the faithful that it is the most serious things that make men mad in the eyes of the world; and that there are strange and subtle moments in history when the sanity of heaven and earth rests in the hands of seeming madmen. In 1571, Don John of Austria did what no man in his right mind would wish to do—but he did it because the only thing in his mind was that it was the right thing to do. Don John heeded the Pope’s call for a crusade against the unstoppable wave of Islam that was washing over Christendom. He responded with an act that appeared bereft of right reason, but done for the right reason. Facing the invincible Turkish powers like a David reborn, he sallied forth against an army of giants. And to the amazement of all, he did it laughing and dancing on the deck of his ship like a lunatic, wreathed in the whirling smoke of battle. Our Lady of the Holy Rosary gave Don John victory—victory unimaginable. But it was only because he was mad enough to imagine the impossible possible that he was able to be her instrument at Lepanto. He refused with an idiot’s determination to live in a world where miracles do not happen. And so, too, is the refusal of all those who march, and those who march in spirit, with the army in Washington. As the angel Gabriel said to Mary at the moment of Christ’s own conception, “with God nothing is impossible.”
It is never wrong to play the fool if it be for the greater glory of God and in the defense of His Kingdom. Those who would save the lives of those who should be in the safest place imaginable recognize the heroism involved in running the risk of ridicule to uphold the sacred things forgotten by modern man. Nothing worth doing is free of peril. We pray that those who march in Washington DC for the unborn will not march forever in vain—though their praises are due now, even before the victory is given to us by God.
Editor’s note: Pictured immediately above is the tomb of Don John of Austria. (Photo credit; lead photo: March for Life, 2012 / Reuters.)