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Venzor: In defending unborn life, 'We shall not weary, we shall not rest'

“We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until the culture of life is reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love …. Whether, in this great contest between the culture of life and the culture of death, we were recruited many years ago or whether we were recruited only yesterday, we have been recruited for the duration.” 

These words were spoken to hundreds of pro-life leaders by the late, great Father Richard John Neuhaus. And they have been read by thousands more since then. Though over a decade old, these words remain as true today for pro-life advocates.

The words particularly pierce the heart of pro-life Nebraskans because of the recent detestable action of the Nebraska Legislature’s Appropriations Committee to strip out of the state’s budget pro-life language that would prohibit taxpayer dollars from subsidizing the abortion industry. In other words, five state senators of the Appropriations Committee voted to reinstate Title X funding, without any qualifications, to Planned Parenthood and others engaged in the abortion industry, using Nebraska taxpayer dollars.

That our state budget would condone a penny of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the abortion industry is an injustice. And it is a supreme injustice when the state budget could be crafted to prohibit such subsidies, but the Legislature fails to do so.

But, as Father Neuhaus stated and as pro-lifers know both intuitively and from experience: “Contending for the culture of life has been a very long journey, and there are still miles and miles to go.” This is true not only of the general movement to overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion unthinkable in Nebraska, but also this is true of the particular effort to reinstate the pro-life Title X language into the budget. 

With the legislative session only a third of the way through, the Appropriations Committee still has time to reverse its awful decision to subsidize the abortion industry. And, if they decide not to do so, then the full body of the entire legislature will have the opportunity to reinstate the Title X language through an amendment to the budget when it comes up for debate. As Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley recently said, “We’re already having lots of conversations with pro-life senators and this is going to be a battle royal if this doesn’t get reversed.” 

Moving forward, it will be incumbent on every pro-life Nebraskan – you and me – to answer the call to defend the dignity of the weakest, most vulnerable, most dependent person in society, the unborn child. This labor of love “is not a battle of our own choosing” but it is one that is demanded of us because “justice is our cause.” And, in pursuing justice, we can be sure that the promise of God is with us, and that the culture of life will be victorious over the powers of the Evil One, who works tirelessly to erect a culture of death. 

To repeat Father Neuhaus: “We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until the culture of life is reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love.”

As holy Scripture says, today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2). And the day of salvation includes the work of building a just society through public policy that respects human dignity and the common good. Today is the day for Catholics and pro-lifers of all faiths or no faith to rise up and advocate for the unborn child and to promote the common-sense policy of keeping taxpayer dollars from subsidizing the abortion industry.

Begin by reaching out to your own state senator and asking them about their position on the pro-life Title X budget language. Contact by phone or email the four state senators on the Appropriations Committee who courageously defended and voted to adopt the pro-life budget language, and offer your gratitude: 

• Sen. Mike McDonnell, 402-471-2710, mmcdonnell@leg.ne.gov

• Sen. Bob Clements, 402-471-2613, rclements@leg.ne.gov

• Sen. Steve Erdman, 402-471-2616, serdman@leg.ne.gov

• Sen. Myron Dorn, 402-471-2620, mdorn@leg.ne.gov

And offer prayers and fasting for those who voted against the pro-life language and in support of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the abortion industry: Sen. Tony Vargas (Omaha); Sen. Kate Bolz (Lincoln); Sen. Anna Wishart (Lincoln). In a special way, pray and fast for two senators who last year supported the pro-life language, but this year flipped their votes: Sen. John Stinner (Gering) and Sen. Bob Hilkemann (Omaha).

“We shall not weary, we shall not rest …”

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.

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