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Women of valor and the pro-life cause

On December 7, a date that will live in infamy in the fever swamps of pro-abortion America, Erika Bachiochi had the temerity to publish an op-ed article in the New York Times.

Left to right: Leah Libresco Sargeant, Abigail Favale, and Ericka Bachioci during the “The Dignity of the Sexed Body: Asymmetry, Equality, and Real Reproductive Justice” panel Nov. 13. (Image: Steve Toepp / University of Notre Dame)

I first met Erika Bachiochi — then Erika Schubert — in July 1998, when she was my student in the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society in Cracow. She had graduated from Middlebury College two years before and was doing a master’s program in theology at Boston College, which she completed in 1999. Erika received her law degree from Boston University in 2002 and has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Law School.

Married and the mother of seven, she is one of the country’s leading exponents of pro-life feminism, and her recent book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, has received considerable and well-deserved attention. In her spare (sic) time, she helped found a classical academy, St. Benedict’s, in Natick, Massachusetts, and led its board for two years. In addition to her affiliation with the Abigail Adams Institute, Erika is also my colleague at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

On December 7, a date that will live in infamy in the fever swamps of pro-abortion America, Erika Bachiochi had the temerity to publish an op-ed article in the New York Times. In it, she criticized the “individualistic libertarianism that characterizes our politics, left and right” and expressed the hope that, with Roe v. Wade out of the way, the “pro-life movement can begin where it left off in 1973, working to convince fellow citizens…that we owe dependent and vulnerable unborn children what every human being is due: hospitality, respect, and care.”

A post-Roe America, she proposed, would be a country that would “need to move beyond its wrongheaded obsession with autonomy” and “bring forth a renewed solidarity instead” — a solidarity in which “support, assistance, and care” are offered to “pregnant women and their children, both born and unborn,” and men are “called to task” when they fail to meet their responsibilities.

It was a well-reasoned, well-written, compassionate, and temperate piece. And it caused thousands of readers of what still imagines itself the country’s newspaper of record to come unhinged. An f-bomb in the subject line of an e-mail Erika received set the tone for much of the rest. Several enraged partisans wrote the leaders of the Abigail Adams Institute and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, urging that this heretic be terminated (e.g., “I find it extremely difficult to imagine that anyone would pay her to ‘think.’”).

One pyromaniacally-inclined correspondent confessed “surprise that you didn’t burst into flames upon submitting your opinion [piece] as the Times is the godless heathen nest of all things you despise.” Several indulged in crude anti-Catholicism: “I assume that you are rigidly Catholic which may explain your viewpoint;” “…the Church only cares for the soul, not the living, breathing child.” None of this vitriol involved serious argument, as most contented themselves with a sheer venting of their disgust (e.g., “I cannot find a single sentence in this pitiful attempt at analysis that contains a shred of truth;” “I would suggest that you get out of your…ivory tower;” “Your article and opinion are drivel. Full Stop.”)

Considering the nastiness and vacuity of these non-responses to Erika Bachiochi’s article, one suspects that those who regard Roe v. Wade as the linchpin of American democracy are beginning to fear that they’ve lost the debate about abortion. They lost the scientific debate long ago, and now they’re losing the constitutional debate. The oral argument over the Dobbs case at the Supreme Court on December 1, in which the defenders of Roe v. Wade were clearly outclassed, could only have intensified those fears.

All of which reminded me of a conversation at the end of Roland Emmerich’s film Midway, when Admiral Halsey (Dennis Quaid), on learning that the previously demeaned and underrated U.S. Navy had just sank four Japanese aircraft carriers, said to Admiral Nimitz (Woody Harrelson), “God bless those boys. Turns out all they needed was a fair fight.” That was all the pro-life cause needed, too — a fair fight.

That what pro-lifers finally got at the Supreme Court on December 1. And by the testimony of just about everyone (including pro-abortion legal commentators), the pro-life forces replicated the feats of the Enterprise, Hornet, and Yorktown pilots on June 4, 1942: they demolished their adversaries (with Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the role of hapless Japanese admiral Chuichi Nagumo).

Erika Bachiochi and many other women of valor helped make that possible by decades of legal and moral commentary that has eviscerated the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott. By their lives, work, and courage, these women falsify the claim that the pro-life cause is anti-woman. And their critics can’t stand it.

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About George Weigel 435 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021), and To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II (Basic Books, 2022).


  1. The Holy Innocents stand guard against Satan, Herod and pastoral abortion.

    What is pastoral abortion. Pastoral abortion protects the abortionist and the ill-fated mother, making everyone allow for killing the baby first, so that “at least they have a chance to repent”.

  2. Another awesome article. These women are warriors. They show that unborn children do not have to be sacrificed in order for God to achieve great things through them. They are the light in the darkness. I pray them to to stay strong, committed and close to the light of Christ.

  3. Critiquing the abortion culture, Bachiochi wrote that we: “need to move beyond its wrongheaded obsession with autonomy” and “bring forth a renewed solidarity instead.”
    Weigel then draws an analogy with the Battle of Midway which, I propose, gives license here to make another loosely related analogy, but with a very different twist…Might we consider the agenda, now well underway, to redefine “solidarity?” The accurate synonym might be the opposite: “dissipation.”
    (1) The solidarity/dissipation of the globalists comes to mind, as all cultural and national distinctions are submerged within the “solidarity” of the imagined whole.
    (2) Likewise, the redefinition of marriage, by submerging traditional marriage and binary/ complementary sexuality as merely a residual anomaly within the larger “solidarity” of “gay marriage and gender theory.”
    (3) And—my central point—within the loosely-defined “synodal” Church, the submerging of the Church—as the sacramental and Mystical Body of Christ—within the generic “People of God” (The Second Vatican Council still retains the distinction, Lumen Gentium, n. 15). And, synodally, the possible submerging of even the People of God within a yet broader block party? With the successors of the apostles classified “primarily as facilitators” for a litany of statistical groups even including agnostics and atheists (the vanedecum). A litany which does not include “families” (even as it remains ambiguous toward rogue outcomes like the “synodal way” in Germania).

    In all of these cases, the underlying mindset is less about theology than it is about a kind of mad cow disease—a fatal disease that slowly destroys the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) in cattle.

    Like councils, synods are only what the Church DOES, not what the Church IS. Is there still a backbone to “the Church”—in season and out of season? Just askin’…

  4. God bless Erika Bachiochi!

    joan andrews linda gibbons mary wagner

    Enter the text above in the search engine. You will find story after story about these heroic women who combined have spent nearly two decades in prison for the “crime” of peacefully, nonviolently attempting to save babies from brutal dismemberment and mothers from being victimized by the child killing industry.

  5. Analogously, God bless those boys who got their fair fight, from Victory at Sea to Victory at Supreme Court sounds dashing. Theatrical? “Intelligence made possible the victorious American ambush of the Japanese Navy at Midway in 1942 and the shooting down of Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto a year later” (Greg Goebel US Codebreakers In The Shadow Of War in Wikip).
    +To continue analogously, how can we compare the codebreaking that at Midway 42 initiated Japan’s defeat 45? Credit goes to the women for presenting a viable Christian form of Feminism that may have had some remote influence on the thought of the Justices. And with well read Christian women. Realistically, their influence on events decided Dec 1 21 are putatively minimal.
    +If there is a code breaking we find an analogy to the code of unprincipled Woke populism that swept the election [by hook or by crook] away from Trump who won his first term by the genius appeal to ‘patriotic populism’. The battle for the lives of the innocent is a battle of minds won, not by relative esoteric Christian Feminist argument that appeals to relative few beyond its purview, rather a wider appeal directed at the other Feminists.
    +If Trump won the minds that elected him and provide the representation [3 justices] to defend life [this was the true Battle of Midway victory] Dec 1 eventually perhaps Roe, the killing will continue as long as the majority of women including Catholics trend toward abortion as a women’s health if not privacy right.
    +Intelligence and ambush that won Midway requires revision for an intelligent appeal to minds and hearts. Weigel’s [our] three heroic women may provide the intelligent rationale. The Church requires its own revision from identification with the Party of Death and the hierarchy’s slovenly intransigent accommodation to the current state of affairs. Persons instinctively respond to courage and action, especially if for a just cause, and when opposed to that cause with surprising affinity. If the socio economic conditions that contribute to abortion are beyond timely reach to alleviate, the spiritual witness to truth will.

  6. Had I read Larry Chapp’s article I would have added to my final paragraph Chapp’s, “How the necessary Liturgical Renewal was begun, betrayed, and left unaccomplished”.

    • I should have added what I intended, “St. Thomas Aquinas as a foundation for the valuable ‘New Theologies’, how the “natural law and the preferential option for the poor have been united in Catholic Social Teaching” (Chapp). Here the Church has supported a Party that continues to offer incentive killing handouts to keep the vote, and offered little more than financed Planned Parenthood facilities. Literally ensuring the poor remain in bondage to the wealthy ideologues Soros and his minions.

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