On New Year’s Eve 2006, my wife and I took the train into Manhattan from New Haven to see a Broadway show in celebration of our first wedding anniversary. As big fans of the late Stephen Sondheim, we could not pass up the chance to see a revival of Company, even though it is not exactly the most encouraging piece of art for newlyweds. Following a set of New York couples through the eyes of Robert, a 35-year-old bachelor, Company captures the aimlessness of modern matrimony among the wealthiest and best educated people in America. Many of this lot may live by the motto, “If it feels good, do it;” but even more importantly, when it doesn’t feel so good for them anymore, they just take a powder.
Amid both humor and despair, Company nears its end with “Being Alive,” a beautiful showstopper about what love, marriage, children, and family are really designed for: not me, but someone else. The hard stuff is really the good stuff. Originally played by Dean Jones, Robert realizes that being inconvenienced in every imaginable way is what real love is all about. “Somebody, need me too much,” he cries, “somebody, know me too well.”
In Company, Sondheim finally shows us a man willing to bear the cost of someone else sitting in his chair and ruining his sleep. But we also know Robert is just looking at the tip of the iceberg. Being alive – being for others – is at once the most devastating and euphoric mystery of all. It’s hard to imagine, but maybe Robert won’t have any chair at all someday, or any home, but he will still have the duty and joy of caring for his dependents who, “like it or not, will always be there.”
When my wife and I saw Company, our hearts were just beginning to expand to make room for all the wonderful and difficult things we would pick up on the way of the cross that is Christian marriage. And then came our children, for whom enormous sacrifices of money, energy, and even mental stability and physical health began the second we felt the thrill of looking at the plus sign on the home pregnancy test. We freaked out when we were told our son might have a serious birth defect. Our obstetrician, who was a well-known medical school professor, was incredulous when we told him we were not interested in amniocentesis to find out for sure. Nor were we interested in any “options” he might recommend in his best medical judgment. Whatever our son’s condition was, he would be ours. As it happened, he was fine. Instead, we continue to face all the “normal” difficulties of child-rearing.
As America holds its breath waiting to find out whether the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health will indeed overturn federal abortion law when the final ruling is published, abortion activists have been in a panic to restate their arguments. We have all heard the intractable, ages-old ideological concern about the sovereignty of a woman’s body (with or without another body inside it), the philosophical and theological questions about when human life begins, and perhaps on the fringes, an occasional ethical case for abortion on the grounds of prioritizing women’s physical and emotional well-being over the undesirable reality of her pregnancy.
But the most revolting defenses are the more practical ones, which are so bald-faced in their selfish pseudo-logic that they would make Aleister Crowley blush; but they seem to make sense to today’s version of Sondheim’s 1960’s elites. A recent exchange in the United States Senate sums it up. During a Banking Committee meeting, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen stated, “in many cases abortions are of teenage women, particularly low income, and often Black, who aren’t in a position to be able to care for children, have unexpected pregnancies, and it deprives them of the ability, often, to continue their education to later participate in the workforce.”
Yellen concluded, “It means that children will grow up in poverty and do worse themselves.” Visibly shaken by Yellen’s comments, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, fired back, “As a guy raised by a Black woman in abject poverty, I am thankful to be here.”
Scott’s personal testimony echoes the mainstream view of the Pro-Life movement. It’s all about being alive, with all the trials life brings. In contrast, Yellen and the Pro-Abortion side declare that it is better to be dead than poor. And thanks to medical professionals like the one who counseled me and my wife, the near disappearance of babies with Down Syndrome and other birth abnormalities prove the horrifying consensus that it is better to be dead than disabled.
At its best, the Pro-Life movement does not turn a blind eye to poverty or disadvantage, and works to protect life outside the womb as much as inside it. The other side never gives us enough credit for this. But Pro-Lifers also know that any baby, but especially one born in difficult circumstances, is “someone to force you to care,” as Robert says in Company. Whether a child is conceived with the utmost intention or by “accident,” he or she immediately becomes a burden, which is precisely the divine gift for the mother, and for the world. Thus, we should all be forced to care.
Abortion, on the other hand, is the equivalent of snapping our fingers like Thanos in the Avengers movies – forcing women to disappear our problems as much as theirs. The Pro-Life side knows that not wiping out millions of lives will result in problems that we must solve; but that’s life, and we’re here for all of it. “Somebody, hurt me too deep,” Robert demands in Company. Bearing and raising any kid is difficult, and we are holier for it.
As we look ahead to a radically different landscape for abortion access, and a true victory for generations of selfless advocates of the unborn, the new challenge of articulating the virtue of sacrificial living begins. With abortion law potentially about to be reset to pre-Roe standards, we are now at the start of what is arguably the real Pro-Life movement.
It’s about being alive. And it’s tough for everyone.
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Very nice. Thank you.
Janet Yellen has done us a favour by setting out so starkly the underlying rationale of the elite “looking after” the non-elite.
Wow! What a wonderful article that captures such an important truth about life. Thank you!
The slippery slope of “choice” is that it has led to partial birth abortion and even infanticide when a live baby who survived the murderous procedure is left to die on a nearby surface. How long before the slippery slope allows for the “abortion” of a troublesome teenager whose life interrupts the professional life of his mother? How long before the disabled are “aborted” because they are too difficult to care for and take too much time and effort? On the other end of life, how long before there is a “right” to kill the elderly, if we deem them to be not productive to society? And who decides on the “productivity?” Life is a gift. If you’re able to read this, you have received that extraordinary gift. What gives you the “right” to deny that gift to others?
Yeah, pretty sure we are already there
When so called “conservative Catholics” are unwilling to allow themselves to perceive that utilitarian reasoning occurs in many places in Amoris Laetitia, much of the Church itself is already there.
I just saw this article this morning. Yup, we (well, Canada, but the US isn’t far behind I’m sure) are here:
I really don’t want to hear how the socialized Candadian medical system is sooo much better than ours (which, to be honest, is largely socialized)
My father was a week into recovering from a heart attack when I was born in the 1960s. One of Ma’s friends asked her, “How will you ever take care of a sick husband and a newborn?” She replied, “There’s not much to taking care of a newborn.”
I recall years ago reading a candid statement from SCJ Ruth Ginsburg admitting the objective of government-promoted abortion programs, to wit: “I thought the purpose of abortion was eliminating undesirables.”
It was sobering to hear a Jewish woman voicing the same rationale used by Nazi racial supremacists to exterminate people, especially Jews, in the 1940s.
I searched for what I recalled reading, and found a very similar statement by Ginsburg in 1980, documented at yhe link here:
How horrifying and astonishing that decades later, POTUS Obama would voice this prayer: “God bless Planned Parenthood.”
The ideology of abortion has accomplished the literal “self-Nazi-fication” of the American left.
‘ O Blessed Lady, place us in the Divine Fire where we belong and share with us the Immaculate Conception ..’ from the timely devotion given for our times, to blind Satan and see God’s blessings in the Light of His Goodness and Love –
Book of Tobit mentions how it is when the Angel Raphael mentions about the future children in marriage that Tobias loves Sarah ..
Cultures world over having made false gods out of carnality and seduction implicating such attitudes in what ought to be innocent friendships in even children .. such traits , if present to be seen instead as effects of the fallen traits , not as what is ‘normal’ as indoctrinated by Freud , traits to be brought to The Lord to seek freedom for generations even , as given in the graces of the Immaculate Conception ,
seeing the innocence and holiness in God’s Love .
Bl.Emmerich narrates how the I.C . was a noncarnal mystical event in holiness , more by power of spoken word as would have been for the children of Adam and Eve in the Divine Will that they were blessed with before The Fall – not a doctrine by The Church , who upholds the Sacredness of marriage as it is now .
The grace of the I.C could be that children would be anticipated as the great gifts that they are , as did parents of Bl.Mother , from a chosen lineage ..
as blessings for both parents , for the family , for generations ..free of the blinding lies of the enemy in his hatred and fear of life and women , ever trying to unleash the flood waters of carnality through the culture .. the unholy soul ties that can be through the media ..
Good thing too that there are now good on line ministries world over ( thank you for the Word on Fire ministry too ) – including Catholic ministry of Rev. Fr.Jose , who has been in healing ministry for many years , being an exorcist also doing on line deliverance prayers – daily testimonials from persons of all faith backgrounds from many parts of the world – of healings of in utero defects and such too , many in various ministries also participating .
May our gratitude to The Lord , for what He has done for every life as we meditate on The Passion fill our hearts .. the recent blessing of the Holy Father that we see the Love that we receive from The Lord as the transforming grace in all our lives freeing us from poisons which too can be multiplied in wrong choices , effects of which too we see at flood water levels around us .
Life becomes expendable from the Godless utilitarian perspective, for the economist Janet Yellen facts and figures seem cover for a more sinister agenda when studied in wider spectrum. For example, coupled with Administration policy to promote abortion absent of values or limits, that Planned Parenthood the world’s largest abortion industry is funded under the guise of healthcare, we find as admitted by Yellen that it’s mainly young black women who are the main commodity for business. All under the banner of women’s rights.
Although, where do we find the great majority of abortion clinics? Exactly in Black and other less fortunate minorities. For the Bidens, Pelosis, Yellens, Schumers the unproductive poor on the doll are constantly eliminated [exterminated as undesirable weeds as Margaret Sanger would say] keeping costs down and profits up. A win win that goes further, removing moral responsibility to invest in poor neighborhoods [Trump was the lone president who actually began the process of Govt, private investment]. So then, the Yellens, Pelosis, Bidens, Schumers [plus Black carpetbaggers Rev Al f, Jesse Jackson who feed off the sinister arrangement] happily return to their well situated guarded homes after a day’s work in Congress . Justice in this world will be meted out in the next.
Gasoline on the fire. The destruction of the Black family (and sharp uptick in White illegitimacy) came on the heels of the 1960s’ Sexual Devolution wedded to the Great Society handout extravaganza. And now, the progressive solution is more fiat money—to exterminate the unwanted outcome.
Petiprin is prophetic about the tectonic “return to pre-Roe standards,” not setting the clock back, but setting it right.
The long haul of educating the future generation and the past two generations, that the Roe v Wade (1973) and Casey v Planned Parenthood (1992) cases are a tissue of lies—the Big Lie—to the effect that “[a]t the heart of liberty, is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning and of the mystery of life.” Statutory Nihilism. That is to say—there is no inconvenient “mystery of life” if I (!) decide that there no longer is any “meaning,” and therefore that you should have no “existence.”
Lots of rethinking to be thunk, provided that Biden’s mandatory gender-theory school curriculum leaves any time. Quick, to the barricades…”it’s my body!”
As I read, I couldn’t help thinking of the ancient Carthaginians’ practice of child sacrifice. Considering the passage of 2,500 years from their day to ours, one would think the human race had evolved beyond such barbarism. Obviously not, except in matters of motivation and scale. (Sarcasm intended.)