In common law, there was a widely accepted principle that silence means consent. Unless you spoke out in opposition to a specific policy or event, you were presumed to be in agreement.
Silence speaks volumes, at ear-piercing decibels.
And so, I am speaking out, unlike Pope Francis, who has so far been quiet about the single most devastating defeat for human and civil rights of this young century: Ireland’s repeal of its constitutional abortion ban.
I descend from a long line of Irishmen on my redheaded father’s side. I know little about my Celtic roots, but I was fiercely proud of the distant history of courageous Catholic warriors who refused to be victims of a fickle and brutal fate. My heart is American, my soul is Italian and my spirit was once Irish. Now, I reject that last bit of my heritage, as two-thirds of my ancestral countrymen rejected humanity in their embrace of a progressive morality that sees dead babies as an easy price to pay for modernity.
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The Irish joined the Europe Club, and punched their ticket with an “in crowd” that despises tradition, superstition and the heavy lifting required of the unfashionably Catholic.
In demanding the right to abort babies who are three months from being born, the people of Ireland were not just looking to emancipate the vaginas of their women. This was something deeper, more personal and more targeted than the battle we in America are waging against the culture of death.
In America, abortion is legal not because the people rose up and said, “It must be so!” but rather because seven men imposed the “right” by judicial fiat. In fact, the reason the battle is still being waged and the so-called right to kill the developing child is constantly being challenged in the courts and legislatures is precisely because the people of America (multitudes of us women) refuse to yield to the nihilism of the abortion rights tsunami. We speak, we march, we vote. We are not going away.
The difference between Ireland and the United States is that the Irish have been taught to resent the Catholic Church, something that is as much a part of their identity as the moody sadness that manifested itself in the greatest poetry in the world. The Irish suffered through famine and occupation, and the church was a source of strength and a weapon of defiance.
But then came the catastrophic revelations of sexual abuse, the scandal of the forced adoptions and enslavement of the Magdalene women, the stories of women who were forced to bear many children because the church forbade birth control. The church became the target of an easy, useful anger manipulated by the faithless, the secularists, the atheists and the angry Catholics who felt betrayed.
So this decision to allow women to end their pregnancies up to the sixth month is the act of a resentful child lashing out at the parent who disappointed her, and an act of defiance more than a declaration of independence. The abolition of the Eighth Amendment in Ireland is a statement of rebellion.
But in declaring their independence, the Irish have become the victimizers. In order to seek freedom, these children of historic bondage, they have enslaved the unborn Irishmen by turning them into “property,” disposable because invisible.
The New York Times carried a photo of young women celebrating with glee. My paper ran a headline describing a “decisive win for abortion rights.” And those who see abortion as just another privilege of the female citizen are exultant. The festive mood is repellent, ghoulish and a sad glimpse into the souls of those who call themselves “advocates for women’s rights.”
And so, we will fight back, we who cherish life. We will not be silent, because we do not consent to this assault on decency. My favorite teacher and former law professor, Howard Lurie, wrote this to me in the hours after the Irish referendum: “There is a very powerful weapon that Catholics can use against this silence: embarrass them. EMBARRASSMENT is a powerful weapon. Just look at the recent Starbucks incident. EMBARRASS them, EMBARRASS them, and then EMBARRASS them again. That is how you win.”
And we are in this to win.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News.
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