When abortion advocates die, how should we respond?
It’s a timely question. On Monday, Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) died of natural causes at the age of 89. He accomplished many things in his decades as an elected official, but in pro-life circles, he’ll be remembered for his belief that defenders of unborn human life “don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution.” And last week, notorious Canadian abortionist Henry Morgentaler, who played a central role in destroying all legal protections for unborn children there, died at the age of 90.
As the radical abortion crusaders of the late 1960s and early 1970s continue to age, stories like this will only become more frequent. This is the reality behind sanitized phrases like “greying of abortion providers”— the old guard is literally dying off. And a younger, more pro-life generation is replacing them. We don’t celebrate anybody dying, but we do celebrate the general trend. And we’re admonished not to “speak ill of the dead,” but we can’t speak very positively of them either. There are a lot of contradictions and pitfalls here. How can we discuss this sensitively?
The religious response to such events usually consists of comments along the lines of “I hope he repented in time.” The “because if not, his eternal anguish has already begun!” typically remains unsaid. For obvious reasons, I don’t find that helpful.
From a secular perspective, when an abortion leader dies, my reaction is always one of deep disappointment, for lack of a better phrase. Every life begins with incredible promise; it’s tragic when a person leaves the world having made it a worse place. I don’t hesitate to speak the truth: they did make the world a worse
place. In some cases they have killed literally thousands of people. And yet, while I cannot mourn their actual legacies, I mourn what their
lives could have been. I mourn their private family lives and wonder how
their loved ones are coping.
And then I simply shut up, step back, and return to work. That’s all I can do.