Like millions of other Americans, for many years I have waited and prayed for the end of Roe v. Wade. Roe’s America has been, for my entire lifetime and then some, what St. Pope John Paul II called, in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, the “culture of death.” This has been “actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency,” the pontiff wrote, which in turn makes it “possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak.” Not just a war. A genocide. This culture of death has sent more than 63 million of my countrymen to a pre-birth grave since Roe (and Doe) gobsmacked America in 1973, just four and a half years before I was born.
My friend and pro-life crusader Will Goodman puts it best: We are living in the time of “the American holocaust.” For nearly 50 years, a Supreme Court decision more barbaric than Dred Scott, more inhuman than Plessy v. Ferguson, has made our nation into a charnel house for children in the womb. More than 60 million dead in Roe’s America as of the Year of Grace 2022. And still the little bodies pile up. Still the left clamors for more killing, and yet more.
Yes, by all means, Roe must fall. It has been a wicked scar on our beautiful nation from the beginning. The recent news, however, has left me much more fearful than jubilant. According to leaked documents reported to be an authentic Supreme Court decision draft, a majority of Supreme Court justices plans to overturn Roe via a ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case currently on the docket. The reality of this has sobered me. For a left which has already shown contempt for the Supreme Court, with calls to pack it in order to get more of what the left wants, for instance, it is clear that Roe will not die with a whimper. Roe is apparently on the gallows. And I am afraid of what happens after the trap door is sprung.
Because division and discord are all around us now. I once thought Roe would expire in an irenic scene of reconciliation. Now I see that we are much more likely to have civil war. How else to prognosticate when even the Supreme Court is attacking the Supreme Court? During oral arguments in December 2021 about Dobbs, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wondered, out loud and on the record: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?”
Good question. The knives are out, and it seems Roe will kick over many pillars of our system of government in its death throes. Roe has so rooted itself in the national psyche that ripping it up will dislodge 50 years of discord onto our battered republic.
I was far too optimistic when, ten years ago, I stood before Planned Parenthoods and prayed for the killing to stop. I thought our holocaust could taper off and our nation could emerge from it looking ahead to a brighter future. The reality is that Roe will not heal us as it ends. It will pit us against one another like never before. The American holocaust is not an aberration; it has become part of our national character, whether we like it or not. Roe has insinuated itself into our national soul. Roe sought to add death to death, to lay waste without quarter. Roe dissolved and demoralized and disfigured as it dismembered our brothers and sisters.
An analogy might help put our situation into perspective. Imagine if the Nazis’ Holocaust had not ended with the German defeat, but continued to this day. Many Germans would of course be working to stop the horrors, but even if those good Germans succeeded, what would be left when the gas chambers had been shut down? What would be the meaning of Germany after decades of cruel and wanton slaughter? What would the Germans have, both those who supported the killing and those who fought to end it, except the fallout from the killing itself? The very meaning of Germany would have been changed, from a country to a killing field. You can’t flip a switch and make Auschwitz into not-Auschwitz. Some evils mark a place forever.
Unlike the Nazis’ Holocaust, no one from the outside has come to stop our holocaust in red, white, and blue. The meat grinder has cranked on and on. Our entertainers, our comedians, laugh at the killing. The American holocaust is a punchline for many on the left. The rest of us shake our heads and wince, but almost all of us have found some way to live our lives around the engine of death turning and turning at the heart of our nation.
And so, now we face a similar situation today to the one I have darkly imagined above. After five decades of malicious murder, the United States is Roe now. And we will never not be, no matter how the carnage is subdued. The poison has spread through the body politic. We need to keep killing, for we cannot imagine doing otherwise. Our nation may not be able to return to a time when holocaust was not the default mode of the central state. We may have forgotten how to be human beings, after having taken, or acquiesced in the taking of, the lives of more than 63 million other human beings.
We are faced with a time beyond Roe, just as I so long prayed. But I do not think we understand that Roe, as evil as it is, is what joins us to one another now. Evil corrupts everything. It cannot be contained. It replaces good bonds with bad, replaces charity with fear. When Roe falls, and I do pray that it will, despite my fear of what comes next, the United States will disintegrate.
Consider how, already, the apparent end of Roe is shaping up. In the first moments of Roe’s demise, we glimpse what awaits us in the weeks and months ahead. The leak of the Supreme Court decision draft portending Roe’s end was treachery, obviously designed to mobilize the left for the upcoming midterm elections and buy time for the culture of death to codify the American holocaust as federal law. Indeed, Senator Bernie Sanders and other Democrats responded to the leak by calling for the filibuster to be demolished so that Congress could legislate Roe‘s federal guarantee of access to abortion.
From the outset it is plain. Roe is going to take all of us down with it. The left will pull down the halls of justice so that the central injustice of Roe can yet reign.
Consider that the mechanism of Dobbs, if the majority decides as the leak suggests, will probably be to remand the abortion question to the several states. Many states already have in place laws that will automatically outlaw abortion, with at most rare exceptions, the moment Roe is struck down. Others will enshrine, or already have, the right to abortion in state law. This means that we will be able to choose whether to live in a state that protects women and children, or one that targets them. And we will get to make that choice, most likely, much sooner than we might think. Roe was nationwide, so we were all stuck with one bad situation. Roe, ironically, has been a unifier of a kind, a sort of political principle, as distasteful as it is.
After the downfall of Roe, we will not have this twisted unifier any longer. We will all be pro-choice. We will have to make a decision, obscured from us now by the blanket nature of Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and other culture-of-death rulings, about how we move forward as Americans. We will be able to choose; we will have to do so. “Consider that I have set before thee this day life and good, and on the other hand death and evil,” counsels the Good Book. If we are pro-lifers in a culture-of-death state, we will be drawn by our consciences and our acquaintances to the living half of the continental divide. We will become two nations. We already are and long have been, yes. But that rift will become manifest post-Dobbs, and there will be no bridging it and no turning back.
There is perhaps one way to avoid the coming national mitosis, however. We can assemble, posthaste, a truth and reconciliation commission to reckon as best we can with this American holocaust. We can have those who have done the killing, and those who have benefited from and applauded it, sit before a tribunal and unburden their souls. We can choose, as a nation, to forgive and to make amends for the 50 years of depraved violence visited on the preborn. This is a choice we can make that could prevent us all, reeling from the trauma of the American holocaust, going our separate ways.
But I wonder if such an endeavor will suffice. Truth and reconciliation commissions have done good work in Rwanda, to be sure. They have done good work in Chile, in South Africa, in Sierra Leone. But the scale of the killing in these cases is dwarfed by our homegrown slaughter. We had a communist-led truth and reconciliation commission to help us overcome the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, a rampage by the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan. But the Greensboro Massacre tallied only five victims. The American holocaust is more than 12 million times that figure. How long will our post-Roe truth and reconciliation commission go on? Will we set up a memorial to the more than 63 million victims of our half-century of federally approved, federally funded in utero lynching? Can we continue to live in a country so overshadowed by its evil past? Is there time enough, or forgiveness enough, left to our republic to work through and beyond the evil that has been done?
I used to think that the demise of Roe would be morning in America. The dark night of death would be behind us, and we could learn to love one another again and move on. But now I see the end of Roe as the evening, not the dawn. A continental divide is fast approaching. When Roe falls, we will finally, I believe, have to part, the proud culture-of-death Americans on one side, and the remorseful, sorrowing, bereaved, but faintly hopeful choosers-of-life Americans on the other.
Jason Morgan is associate professor at Reitaku University in Kashiwa, Japan.