Love Is Stronger than Death

Published April 16, 2024


Last Friday, I had the privilege of delivering the rally keynote at the Colorado March for Life, held in Denver outside the state capitol building. The event drew a crowd of several thousands pro-lifers, which was especially encouraging considering that Colorado is one of the most pro-abortion states in the country when it comes to law and policy. As 2024 unfolds, abortion supporters and pro-life activists are advancing competing projects to put ballot measures up for popular vote this November on abortion policy.

In this newsletter, I’m sharing an edited version of the remarks I offered at the rally. It’s naturally quite different in tone and style from my typical essay, but I thought I’d share it because my aim at the March was to offer encouragement and hope to pro-lifers at a time and place where hope seems hard to come by. Our movement is somewhat fractured, our goals unclear or at least rather diffuse. I hope these thoughts will give you some encouragement today, and a reminder that though the post-Dobbs landscape is hardly settled or straightforward, every small change of heart is worth working for and worth celebrating.

Thank you all for being here today to witness to the beauty and goodness of human life. It is good that you are here. We are here first and foremost because we know that our country is failing the most vulnerable among us. We are here because we know that no society built on the death of innocents can be a decent or just society.

I want to start by sharing a brief, powerful story about the conversion of a former abortionist. In 1984, Dr. Anthony Levatino experienced a tragedy: his five-year-old daughter Heather died after being hit by a car. He took some time off of work to grieve his daughter’s death. When he returned, something had changed.

“One day it was my turn to perform a second-trimester abortion,” he later said. “As I started the procedure, I inserted a clamp and ripped out the baby’s arm. Then I paused for what seemed like forever, staring at the arm in the clamp. A procedure I had done over a hundred times before suddenly made me ill. At that moment, the only thing that mattered was the innocent child whose life I had just ended. I lost my child, someone who was very precious to us. And now I am taking somebody’s child and I am tearing him right out of their womb. I am killing somebody’s child. That day marked the beginning of my journey from abortionist to pro-life advocate.”

Within eight months of his daughter’s death, Dr. Levatino quit performing abortions. “A change had come that I couldn’t take back,” he said, “Once you finally realize that killing a baby at 20 weeks is wrong, then it doesn’t take too long to figure out that killing a baby of any size is wrong.” As many of us here today surely know, Dr. Levatino is far from alone in experiencing a wake-up call. There have been so many people involved in the abortion industry or who once supported abortion who had a tremendous change of heart after suddenly realizing that abortion ends the life of a tiny human being in the womb.

This is the kind of sudden, eye-opening, conversion of heart we must be working towards for every person in our country. It’s hard to understand, sometimes, how it’s possible that our country could continue to allow something as horrible as abortion. We are alive at a time so remarkable for the continued embrace of justice and equality. We’ve come so far as a society toward recognizing all members of the human race as equal in dignity and worth.

Yet how could we have come so far and still be a country that permits violence against the most vulnerable members of the human community—the child in the womb? How can it be that we allow this practice? How can it be that we haven’t all realized how deeply wrong and deeply sad it is to continue to kill these innocent children?

What I want to remind you of today as we gather here to protest and to celebrate life is this: We live in a society that believes abortion is okay because we live in a society terrified to death that life isn’t good.

We no longer believe that each and every human being — from the very first moment he comes into existence — is made good in the image and likeness of God. We no longer believe that each and every one of us is Beloved in the eyes of our creator.

And so we see the people around us living in deep sadness. So many today believe that the universe is some kind of freak accident. They think human existence is directionless and meaningless. They don’t believe that human beings are created out of love and destined for love. They think that all we have is here and now — so we’d better look out for ourselves and make the most of it.

Is it any surprise that we are a society that embraces abortion? It’s no wonder that so many around us now believe that there’s nothing wrong with ending the life of a child in the womb simply because he or she is unexpected or seems to be an inconvenience. Why should we be called out of ourselves to care for the vulnerable? Life has no meaning other than what I give it. I have to look out for me.

We pro-lifers are here today because we must offer this hurting world a message of hope. We are here today to reject the lie that abortion makes us better off as a society. We are here to reject the lie that some human beings can be discarded simply because others view them as unwanted or inconvenient. We are here to reject the lie that women need abortion in order to be equal members of society. We are here to reject the lie that American men and women are served by ending the lives of their children in the womb. We are here to reject the lie that freedom, justice, and equality can coexist in a society that allows abortion.

Abortion is a grave evil. It is not something to be taken lightly or brushed under the rug. But we aren’t here today to judge, shame, and condemn. We know that mercy is always available, for every person who has ever been involved in an abortion, from the mother to the abortionist. No one is ever too far gone to be forgiven. No one is too far gone to experience mercy and healing.

We are here today as witnesses to stand for the beautiful reality that even amidst the wreckage of half a century of unborn children killed in abortions – life is good. Life is a gift.

We are here to say in no uncertain terms that every child in the womb is our brother or our sister, and that our society is impoverished because we have lost sight of that truth.

We are here to say that these unborn children are precious in the eyes of God, and they deserve protection under the laws of our country.

We are here to say that no just, decent, compassionate society sacrifices its most vulnerable and innocent members.

We are here to say that every child has a mother and a father and that every child deserves the care, support, and love of both his parents. We are here to say that women deserve better than abortion, that every abortion harms not only the child but also his mother and his father. We are here to reject the idea that anyone in our society is better off because we allow this killing.

We are here to say that the continued killing of human beings in the womb undermines our country’s founding principles. It undermines our commitment to natural rights, to justice, and to equality.

We can and we will work towards a just, equitable, decent society that does not build its progress on the graves of millions of unborn children. No true justice, no true equality, no true progress can rest on the killing of innocents.

Three decades ago, Pope St. John Paul II visited Denver for World Youth Day. More than 800,000 people from a hundred countries came to this city to hear him. I want to share with you this morning some of what he said at the mass he celebrated at Cherry Creek State Park here in Denver thirty years ago.

“This marvelous world,” the Pope said, “is the theater of a never-ending battle being waged for our dignity and identity as free, spiritual beings. The father of lies relentlessly tries to eradicate from human hearts the sense of gratitude and respect for the original, extraordinary and fundamental gift of God: human life itself.”

“Death battles against Life,” he said, “a ‘culture of death’ seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full. In our own century,” he went on, “as at no other time in history, the ‘culture of death’ has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, ‘final solutions,’ ‘ethnic cleansings,’ and the massive taking of lives of human beings even before they are born.”

But despite this grim depiction, the Pope encouraged his audience here in Denver to fight courageously for the right to life. “Have no fear,” he said. “The outcome of the battle for Life is already decided, even though the struggle goes on against great odds and with much suffering. . . At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of Life has been put into your hands. . . . Do not be afraid to go out on the streets and into public places . . . It is you who must go out into the byroads and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people.”

Perhaps some of you here today are feeling that fear he described. Perhaps we feel like small voices in the wilderness, fighting against insurmountable odds. It is easy to fear sometimes that our efforts aren’t worth it, that this cause of ours might never succeed in our lifetime. But as we go out into the byroads of this city today, witnessing to the dignity of every life, of every man and woman, of every child in the womb, let us remember this powerful message spoken here in Denver by Pope John Paul II thirty years ago: “that Life is more powerful than the forces of death . . .  that Truth is more powerful than darkness, that Love is stronger than death.”

EPPC Fellow Alexandra DeSanctis writes on culture and family issues, with a particular focus on abortion policy and pro-life advocacy, as a member of the Life and Family Initiative.

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