Later this month, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the next President of the United States. A week later, thousands of people from across the country will make their way to the nation’s capital for the 44th annual March for Life. With the two events only seven days apart, Washington, D.C., is certain to be abuzz. But this year, the energy at the march will get an extra jolt from the inauguration.
With President-elect Trump in office and Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, many involved in the effort to end abortion in the country see the stars aligning to change the laws concerning abortion. Many are hopeful that the new president will appoint to the Supreme Court a justice who will be the final vote necessary to overturn, or severely limit the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. The Republican majorities in Congress are already moving to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the biggest abortion providers in the country.
As Catholics, we welcome any progress on limiting abortion in our country, as well as any other assault on the dignity and sacredness of all human life. But even if President-elect Trump appoints a justice who will vote to overturn or substantially change Roe v. Wade, and even if Congress passes legislation limiting abortion funding or puts new regulations on the abortion industry, our work is not done.
There will still be women with unwanted pregnancies. There will still be women who are afraid that they don’t have the financial resources to raise a child. There will still be women who are afraid the father of their child will not be there to help raise their child. There will still be women who fear their family will abandon them. There will still be women who fear they will have to give up their dreams of a college education or that their career will suffer.
We can’t abandon those women and children and families just because the law has changed. We need to understand their fears and concerns and walk with them as they look for a path that will allow them to give life to their child and pursue an education or a career.
We must fight the urge to see the decision about whether to seek an abortion as a zero sum game. It is wrong to assume that respecting the life of an unborn child means we are putting less value on the life of the mother. We must see and protect the value of both the child and mother. When God breathes life into us, he doesn’t assign value to one life and not the next. We are all God’s children and we should regard each other as such.
Next week and beyond, we very well may be marching onto a new battlefield in the abortion wars. But let us not forget that changing a law doesn’t necessarily change a heart. That will take a continuing effort to show those around us that all lives have value and worth. Let’s keep marching.