January 22nd marks the 25th anniversay of what many Americans consider the darkest day in U.S. Constitutional history - the day that saw the abortion laws of all 50 States invalidated and the creation of a virtually unlimited right of abortion throughout the nine months of a women's pregnancy. That is the day the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in ROE v WADE.

The sweeping nature of the Court's decision sent shock waves across the nation. Even in states whose legislatures had recently liberalized abortion law, they had not gone as far as the Supreme Court in ROE v WADE. In 1971, the pendulum had even begun to swing in the other direction. In that year, no state legislature voted to make abortion more available. By 1972, some states had acted to make their abortion laws more, not less restrictive.

By striking down all these laws, ROE v WADE ran counter to the centuries-old American legal tradition with its roots in the early English common law and to the recent decisions made by many state legislatures. Dissenting from the court's action, Justice Byron White branded the decision "an exercise of raw judicial power" with "nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support" it.

University of California law professor John Noonan was equally strong, calling the decision "a continuing affront to constitutional government in this country."

Thus, the radical demand for unrestrictive abortion has remainded unchanged since then. It is seen in the vociferous opposition by today's pro-abortion lobby to efforts that would outlaw the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion ...where, doctors kill children as they are being born.

Anyone who may once have supposed that this fight could be won, quickly and easily, has long since learned differently. The supporters of legalized killing of the unborn are frantical and relentless. They enjoy significant support from major sectors of the secular culture. We who are proud to belong to the pro-life movement feel no discouragement on this anniversay. On the contrary, there are signs of hope that the reign of abortion on demand is weakening.

It is true that the change proceeds slowly and is marked by occasional setbacks. But as people grasp the hideous reality of abortion - that it is the destruction of innocent human life - they turn increasing against it.

Father William A. Bray, St. Clare Church's Bulletin, January 11, 1998

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