A Labor of Love

[Philanthropy, Culture, and Society, October, 1993] The toughest thing about Marilyn Szewczyk isn't her name. You can forget everything you learned in grammar school and rattle off “Seff-check.” Keeping up with Marilyn's determination, energy, and vision is not so easy. Marilyn arrives late for our lunch appointment, her ample silhouette filling the door. Outside it is a blistering white summer noon ;

Abortion: Women’s Rights and Wrongs

[The Remnant, January 20, 1992] The abortion debate seems like an unresolvable conflict of rights: the right of women to control their own bodies, the right of children to be born. Can one both support women's rights and oppose abortion? Truly supporting women's rights must involve telling the truth about abortion and working for it to cease.

Dignity, Always Dignity

[World, February 18, 1995] When Oregon passed “Measure 16” last November, it became the first state in the nation to give doctors permission to prescribe poisonous drugs in order to kill dying patients. In fact, according to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Oregon is “the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize assisted suicide by popular vote.” Oregon was a well-chosen test site; it has the lowest church attendance in the nation, and pro-euthanasia messages played on bias against pro-life Catholic leadership (it's been said that “Anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the elite class.”) The lines don't split precisely between Christians and non-believers, however. Many Christians feel an innate revulsion for legalized killing of the sick, but some do not. A recent letter in our Mailbag column proclaimed, “Thank God for Dr. Kevorkian.” It's human nature to feel panic at the thought of dying in misery, and to long to circumvent the possibility.

Pro-Life, Pro-Choice: Can We Talk?

[Sojourners, January 1995] For years I scoffed at the idea of violence outside abortion clinics. Sure, plenty of violence was going on inside the clinics--over 4,000 babies killed every day. But opponents of abortion are pro-life, I kept saying. We're in this because we oppose bloodshed. Occasionally I'd wince to hear that someone who was Not Clear on the Concept had harmed an empty building, an action that was wrong, risky, and stupid. But the notion that anyone would aim a gun at an abortionist's head and pull the trigger was ludicrous. Then somebody did it.

The Sign

[ESA Advocate, June 1993] I am looking at a painting of a woman with her arms upraised in prayer. But her eyes are not closed, or even lifted up; they gaze out at the viewer with steady solemnity. The most startling thing about this image is at its center. Upon the woman's red-robed torso rests a large circle of blue, and this disk represents her womb. Within it we see her unborn child, clothed and haloed, surrounded by stars and radiant as the sun. His hand is lifted in blessing. This icon of the Orthodox Christian Church is called “The Virgin of the Sign,” recalling the familiar prophecy of Isaiah: “The Lord will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son...” (Isaiah 7:14)

Mail-Order Bundles of Joy

[World, August 12-19, 1995] The residents of a doll catalog that arrived in yesterday's mail are still, perfect, and beautiful, carefully arrayed in fetching poses. Most of these pricey, un-playable dolls are babies and children. Porcelain is ideal for such dolls: it has a smooth, matte finish reminiscent of tender skin, takes color well, and can be exquisitely detailed

Becoming a Pro-Woman, Pro-Life Persuader

[University Faculty for Life,  June 1994] The abortion battle has been dragging on for over twenty years. It began sometime before Roe v. Wade, when individual states first loosened their laws. I have friends who have been active in the cause from before the beginning; some of you may fit that category. But I have only been working at this for about five years, and so my perspective is perhaps fresher. It seems to me that what we have been doing, frankly, isn't working.

Against Capital Punishment

[Religion News Service, October 3, 1995] When Jane's fiance, a tugboat engineer, disappeared at sea, there were many theories about the cause of his death. When his best friend suggested that he had been murdered after stumbling across a drug deal, the idea electrified her. “It caused such a rage it was almost a physical reaction,” she told me.

Unplanned Parenthood

[Policy Review, Summer 1991] The voluble cashier wears a locket containing her toddler's picture; coming through her checkout line is brightly entertaining, like rejoining a show already in progress. You know that she works another job, that her landlord is a jerk, that she has a weakness for ice cream, that her little girl loves Big Bird. You suspect that her immigrant status may not be entirely in order. One day she is pale and subdued; another baby is on the way, and she loves babies, but how can she ever manage? With a stricken look she whispers, “But how could I have an abortion?”

From Pro-Choice to Pro-Life

[Christianity Today, January 12, 1998]Wanted: A New Pro-life StrategyJanuary 22 marks a grim anniversary: 25 years since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. A generation has passed since the first wave of unborn children fell, and the accumulation of each year’s toll totals nearly 37 million. During those years one child was aborted for approximately every three born. Their names would fill the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial wall over 700 times.