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We will never forget where we were on January 22, 1973

by | Jan 21, 2016

By Jean Garton

Editor’s note. Jean Garton is the author of the pro-life classic, “Who broke the baby?”

Jan221973nytroevwadeDo you have any of those “I’ll never forget where I was” memories? January 22, 1973, is one of those times for me.

As I drove to the airport for a meeting at the headquarters of my Lutheran denomination in St. Louis, the car radio was playing in the background. There was no interruption in radio programming for fast-breaking news to catch my attention. There was no somber voice issuing a news alert.

Sandwiched between the all-too-familiar stories of a traffic pile up and a famous actor’s divorce, a bland voice announced that there had been a Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion. Her words spun around in my head. Trimesters? Personhood? Privacy? It sounded awful, but what did it all mean?

When I reached the airport there was no buzz about the Court’s decision as I waited in line for a boarding pass, no chatter about the ruling as passengers milled around before departure.

Maybe I had heard the news incorrectly, I thought. Maybe I had been distracted by traffic and had missed important details.

Doubting my own understanding, I knew I had to find out if the Court’s ruling was as bad as I thought it was. It turned out to be worse, much worse, as I discovered after a few phone calls.

A sleepless night followed, and at my meeting the next day I used some of my time on the agenda to report on the Court’s decision. “What Court decision?” some asked.

Others, members of the clergy, said I must be mistaken about what I thought I had heard. It couldn’t be true that, although the decision was initially interpreted as allowing abortion only in the first trimester, in fact Harry Blackmun and his six colleagues had obliterated all state abortion laws and legalized abortion essentially on demand for all nine months and for any reason.


The lawyers said I was being an alarmist and clearly hadn’t grasped the nuances of the decision. The professors were, well, scholarly, wanting to withhold judgment until they could investigate for themselves. Few gave credence to my comments.

Maybe I had overreacted, I thought. Maybe those I had contacted had failed to “grasp the nuances of the decision.”

After all, I wasn’t a lawyer, professor, or member of the clergy. I began to feel a little foolish. Little did I imagine on that day that as the truth about this lethal ruling of January 22 would emerge, it would become a life-changing issue for me and for hundreds of thousands of others who make up the Pro-Life Movement.

In Roe v. Wade’s wake, a profound change took place in America. A grassroots movement came into being whose persistence and faithfulness is second to none.

As I look back, I see an amazingly committed, effective, innovative and resilient core of volunteers and professionals who helped form and sustain the most unique and selfless movement in all of history.

There have certainly been other movements throughout the centuries, but only the Pro-Life Movement exists simply to say: You may not kill the weakest and most defenseless among us.

Yet, to identify oneself with this unprecedented effort has not come without a personal price for many. It has cost friendships, reputations and, in some cases, even jobs.

This week we somberly commemorate the 43rd anniversary of Roe. It is also once again a New Year, a time when the media are filled with lists of the Top Ten worst or best or hottest or newest of something or other.

My “Top Ten” list is of the indispensable individuals who are the solid gold of our movement and who, at great sacrifice, have given us a foundation and a vision with which to shape the future.

With no order or ranking, since all are valuable and essential, here is my Top Ten List of Gifts to Unborn Children.

1. The Seasoned Warriors who were in the first wave of the battle and, 43 years later, are still standing and devoting their time, talent, and treasure to the defense of unborn children.

2. The Angels in supportive services who counsel and uphold women struggling with untimely pregnancies while providing a loving and practical response to crisis situations.

3. The Influencers – – priests, pastors, teachers, speakers and writers who promote the sanctity of human life.

4. The Whistleblowers – – men and women of honor and conscience who have testified to the cruel workings of abortion clinics and the brutality of abortion procedures.

5. The Mind-Changers who once favored abortion as a woman’s right but who are now valuable witnesses in the vital struggle against an evil and killing movement that promotes death solutions to life’s problems.

6. The Pray-ers who faithfully call on the greatest Power of all and Whom we thank for each success, recognizing that our victories can only be explained in terms of the God.

7. The Parents who instill in their children an appreciation for the gift of life and the importance of protecting all members of the human family.

8. The Wounded – – women and men who are also victims of abortion and, having been deceived by the seductive rhetoric of abortion, are now willing to publicly share their pain to save others from the suffering.

9. The Legislators – – who continue to hold to their convictions and to seek legal protection for unborn children.

10. The Disabled – – who are the greatest of teachers of the truth that human life is valuable regardless of age, stage, or condition because it is – – simply and wondrously – – human life.

The Bible says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1) The time is now; the season is now; the activity is righteous.

A lesson is gradually being learned throughout this land: abortion kills babies, hurts women, and is a violation of every core principle that we believe in as Americans.

Categories: Roe v. Wade