Many weeks back, I sat by a window, vacantly gazing out, when suddenly an insect flew straight into a large spiderweb nestled in the window’s lower left corner. A few seconds later, to my horror, a large spider crawled out of the shadows, and began making its way across the web toward the struggling insect. With only seconds to spare, the insect managed to extricate itself from the web, and flew away. The spider glumly marched back into the shadows.
Right then and there, I silently offered up a prayer of joy – thank you God, for even the smallest of mercies. And yet, in this moment of unexpected happiness I also closed the curtains, and walked away from the window. I knew that, though this insect had been saved, others would not be. For every creature that flies free, rescued from danger, there are many more who do not escape the spider in the shadows.
A prominent American magazine recently declared that advocates of legal abortion have been “losing” ever since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The pro-life blogosphere has been happily abuzz over this article, and taken it as a sign that the long term war looks favorable for our side. Russell Moore was one of the few voices to offer a more pessimistic take, to which I have little to add. Moore rightly admits that there are real reasons for happiness. Whether because of ultrasounds, crisis pregnancy centers, lack of taxpayer funding, protests outside clinics, or any number of other strategies, thousands of mothers have chosen life. Those lives are not trivial. Like a butterfly, escaping from the spider’s web, each one is an occasion for rejoicing.
But the spider in the shadows remains. I live in a country where, at this very moment, any woman at all can go into a medical facility, and have her own son or daughter put to death, without any reason at all. It has been this way for 40 years. More than 50 million times in those four decades, women have elected to exercise this right. Most frightening of all, We the People have ultimately decided that this state of affairs should stay undisturbed. For every life saved by the pro-life movement, so many more are snuffed out, and there’s no end in sight. What the Supreme Court made a right in the alleged land of “liberty and justice for all” has become so deeply embedded that making abortion illegal again has become unthinkable.
And so we do not dwell much on abortion, and go about living our lives. Even those of us who know abortion is murder. What else can we do? Thinking about the spider too much will drive you insane. But refusing to think about it can be equally dangerous. Underestimating a nation’s collective capacity for evil only leaves us less prepared when something even more wicked than abortion really starts to catch on. We continue to call America a great nation even with legal abortion. What about legal infanticide, or legal genocide? When these come, will we also put them out of our mind, and keep reciting “with liberty and justice for all”? Will we one day be reduced to rejoicing when protestors convince one mother to not exercise her legal right to put her two year old to death?
These are not pleasant questions to think about, but a 40 year anniversary is as good a time as any. Over the next several days, I hope to take a hard look at where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. And whether there’s any possibility of a happy end when the spiders are no more.