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Rethinking Roe v. Wade and abortion: Who are we and what do we want to do?

The changing membership of the U.S. Supreme Court offers our nation an opportunity to discuss thoughtfully the validity of the court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, writes Kathryn Jean Lopez. Here, anti-abortion demonstrators in 2016 participate in an annual March for Life walk. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

Comedians making jokes about getting your abortions now, before the Supreme Court abolishes Roe v. Wade.

Emojis indicating a woman won’t have sex with a man who is anti-abortion.

Headline declarations that “There’s A Special Place In Hell For Women Who Gut Abortion Rights.”

Such has been the digital deluge since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.


What is the future of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal in all three trimesters of pregnancy? The issue has polarized much of the country, and now we have an opportunity to ask: Who are we and who do we want to be? A people who let the court determine things we should be talking about on a more intimate level, or a people known for stepping up to the plate when life gets hard?

Friends of mine who just returned from the Holy Land mentioned a group that they encountered along their travels called Efrat. The name comes from Miriam, the sister of Moses. She was a brave prophet who was called Efrat, a name that has the same root as a word meaning “to populate the world.”

As the group’s website tells her story: “Pharaoh decreed that all male Jewish infants were to be drowned, and declared the death penalty to anyone evading his orders. Miriam personally intervened, endangering her own life to save Jewish children from certain death. In addition, she provided the children’s families with all their needs. As a result of her bravery, the Jews continued to multiply and the Jewish nation survived.”

The organization is dedicated to saving the lives of unborn Jewish children.

For Efrat, this is an existential movement, to ensure that Jews will have a home in the world, saving one baby at a time. But there’s a lesson for us all beyond only Jews or Israel.

The people who run Efrat put their resources toward making it possible for a woman to do what seems impossible, and sparing her from a life of agony about wondering what could have been if she had let her child live.

Our abortion debates can bring out the worst in our politics. But the people who do the work of listening to and walking with women in their hours of need are some of the saints and saint-makers among us. The woman who trusts enough to believe that she will be able to raise an unexpected child or who gives her child to a loving couple for adoption is one of the most generous among us. The family that opens its home to a foster child for an uncertain amount of time is one the most loving among us.

They are the kind of people we should be giving more headlines and attention to, celebrating and emulating. And we should be asking them, always: What more do you need?

A privately funded project, Efrat’s Yad Chava Baby Fund is determined that a woman should not have to terminate a pregnancy for economic reasons. Its workers have put together kits, delivered to homes, that will get things started and help along the way. The website explains that you can save a baby with a $1,200 donation. “True, money cannot always save lives. But, when generosity and wisdom combine, vision and vigor unite, and then miracles occur. Lives are saved, children are loved, and families are healed and made whole.”

We need more of that.

The chairman of Efrat has said: “We do not have a single case of a woman who was sorry in the end that she brought her child into the world.” Isn’t that the side we ought to be erring on? Not promising simple ways out — that aren’t simple at all — but helping women make choices for life and love?

People are doing that in the world, and in ways that aren’t mired deep in miserable abortion debates. They somehow bypass them by addressing real-life needs rather than scaring people further in already trying situations.

Instead of adding to the screaming, what if we all found a group and got more involved, financially or with our time? Or we could look around and fill some real needs of people around us.

It’s harder work than pontificating about the president’s latest move. And it’s more fulfilling, too. It could even save a life.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA.

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