Thursday, May 18, 2023
An interview on the future of the pro-life movement
Here is an interview I gave to the Trenton Monitor, the diocesan newspaper of my home diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, after receiving Notre Dame's Evangelium Vitae medal.
A conversation with Professor Robert George
The Monitor caught up with Professor George following the Notre Dame University event to discuss the pro-life movement and his particular affinity for defending the unborn.
The Monitor: Over the course of your career, what led you to champion the pro-life cause in particular?
RG: I have devoted myself to the pro-life cause for a very simple reason: My parents taught me that each and every member of the human family, from the newly conceived child in the womb to the frailest elderly person, as a creature made in the very image and likeness of God, is inestimably precious and is therefore to be honored, protected, and loved. They taught me that, despite the many respects in which people are different and unequal – in, say, strength, beauty, intelligence, talents of various sorts, wealth, power, social status – everyone is equal in fundamental worth and dignity. All, therefore, must enjoy the equal protection of the laws. We may not treat some people as inferior in worth, or others as superior, based on race, sex, ethnicity and so forth; nor may we treat some as inferior or others as superior based on age, size, location, disability, stage of development or condition of dependency.
TM: What do you believe needs to happen in order for society to change its outlook and behavior toward abortion?
RG: Those of us who recognize the profound, inherent and equal dignity of everyone, beginning with the precious child in the womb, must speak out courageously, and work with unflagging determination, to persuade our fellow citizens that killing is not the answer; the “solution” to a challenging pregnancy can never be to offer a woman the ghoulish pseudo-compassion of the abortionist’s knife. Rather, we must “love them both,” reaching out with genuine compassion and loving care to mother and child alike. As we work to reform the law – something we absolutely must do – we must also attend lovingly to the real needs of women for whom pregnancy and motherhood do bring serious difficulties and challenges. The pro-life movement has always done this, though the media refuses to give our movement credit for it, but we must redouble our efforts as we work in the political and legal spheres, now that Roe v. Wade is gone, to extend the mantle of the law’s protection to our tiny brothers and sisters at the dawn of their lives.
TM: How does having these public discussions, particularly in the wake of the Dobbs decision, help bring about change in society?
RG: I believe that the truth has luminosity and power. St. Pope John Paul the Great spoke of “the splendor of truth.” And truth does have a splendor! But truth must be spoken; truth does not speak itself. People will not perceive its luminosity – its splendor – unless people speak it. It is up to us to have the courage to speak the truth about the sanctity of human life, the inherent dignity and equal worth of every member of the human family. Every single one of us is called to bear witness to truth, and today there is no truth more in need of being boldly spoken than the truth about the precious child in the womb.
TM: Do you often speak with people who disagree with the pro-life stance, and if so, have you been able to convince them of the validity of the pro-life perspective?
RG: Well, doing what I do, working where I work, you won’t be surprised by the answer to this question! Yes, I spend a great deal of my time speaking with people who disagree with the pro-life stance. What I try to do is speak the truth in love, just as St. Paul instructs us to do. (Sometimes, as you can imagine, the love is not reciprocated, but that’s OK.) I also try to listen – and learn. I know I’m not infallible. (That’s one thing I’m absolutely certain about.) So, if I’m wrong about something, I want to be corrected. But, honestly, the arguments for abortion (and euthanasia) are weak – they cannot survive sustained, rigorous rational scrutiny. Now that doesn’t mean my interlocutors are always persuaded, but usually I can at least get them to worry about clinging to the pro-abortion (or pro-euthanasia) position. And I have had many gratifying experiences of people coming to embrace the pro-life cause on the basis of rational reflection and discussion. Many of today’s most determined and effective pro-life advocates were, earlier in their lives, supporters of abortion.