This week’s TIME magazine cover story announces that, forty years after Roe, the pro-life side is winning the abortion debate. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth must be running TIME because I am calling Bull!
For certain, there have been regulatory achievements for the protection of pregnant women and their preborn child. They correctly report that Generation Y and beyond more willingly identify themselves as “Pro-Life” – which as is a good. There is no doubt that the countless announcements of pregnancy via social media using a clear ultrasound image to introduce the newest member of the family make it harder to maintain the fallacy that the newest addition to the family is a clump of cells.
Whenever the beleaguered and ever persistent (because they are absolutely correct) Pro-Life Christian sees something like this a bit of triumphalism enters the mind because after four decades of marching in the coldest weather, praying outdoors in every season, being jailed, disparaged, arrested, sued and misunderstood; even the secular magazine TIME reports “We (Pro-Life) are winning!!!” and we have a community fist pump and high fives for everyone. The battle is so long…
WE ARE NOT WINNING. Sorry to ruin your happy dance.
On the positive side –
- The mere fact that the leaderless Pro-Life Movement even exists 40 years post-Roe is evidence of the involvement of the Holy Spirit (which means we will ultimately triumph). Indeed, there is no controversy 40 years after Brown integrated schools. Nor is woman’s suffrage even a passing thought following four decades after the 19th amendment.
Not so with Roe and her ugly cousin Doe. They will never be accepted because they are contrary to nature and an affront to nature’s God. The most primitive peoples from the dawn of time respect life, hold sacred the mystery of reproduction and revere motherhood. It is far from Judeo-Christian theology imposing itself on society when we say that wrenching a child from the womb is barbaric. This is not so much an informed by faith decision as it is a sustained by faith activism.
- Forty years after Roe, Pro-Life is as vigorous as ever – well funded, politically savvy with tactically inclined and out of the box thinking activist leaders plus well tenured religious leaders; none of whom showing any sign of weakness or decay. Some are multi-million dollar enterprises. The Spirit, if anything, is persistent.
- The vast majority of medical professionals, despite being largely pro-choice themselves, tend not to participate in abortion and distance themselves from the abortion industry. Abortionists generally are not to be part of the social medical cliques, lead medical societies or become chief of staff at hospitals. Indeed, the abortion industry is populated by physician misfits capable of little else.
- There have been solid regulatory strides in clinic licensing, zoning, health codes, etc that make the $500 price point of abortion unprofitable. Abortions over $500 seem to be an economic tipping point.
The Bad News -
The large numbers of self-identified pro-life young people demonstrates to me how securely ingrained the abortion rights culture is in The U.S.
Hear me out.
First, in 1973 the right to abortion was total and complete. Abortion cannot expand except to include under abortion the already born. Accordingly, the “right” to abortion can only contract or stay the same. Expansion is not a possibility it started at 100%.
For Generation Y and beyond to self-identify as “pro-life” when there is nothing personally at stake implies little. From before their conception, unrestricted legal abortion has been securely anchored in American law and American families.
Follow me here – after the rise of the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell and the awakening of Evangelical Christianity, following the two terms of Reagan and three terms of Bushes; with Catholics holding a majority in Congress and on the Supreme Court; with four of the five highest offices in the land held by Catholics and nearly 20 years after Evangelium Vitae; abortion marches on at a consistent rate of over one million per year. With this paralyzed body politic, it is easy for the younger generations to view abortion more as a philosophical theory of culture than a matter of public policy.
Abortion as a public policy is set and in minimal to no danger.
On the public policy front, there are tons of window dressing “pro-life” politicians who regularly cast meaningless votes. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, were reliably pro-life, until they were presented with legislation actually restricting abortion. Then there are Bart Stupak, Ben Nelson, Dale Kildee, Jim Oberstarand and most recently Bobby Jindal come to mind as fair weather pro-lifers; developing a more “nuanced” position when the screws get tight.
The Pro-Choice movement is the master of tightening screws; just ask the Komen Foundation – crushed by an entity 1/10th its size.
Individually over a decade ago, Frederica Mathewes-Green quoting the pro-choice Kate Michelman said that Americans oppose abortion in all cases except three – “rape, incest and my situation”and she is correct. When an unplanned pregnancy arrives a heartless pragmatism takes hold over a million times a year – most often at the grandparent’s insistence.
Blessed John Paul II almost 20 years ago in Evangelium Vitae observed the following that is unchanged today:
…it is no less true that we are confronted by an even larger reality, which can be described as a veritable structure of sin. This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and in many cases takes the form of a veritable ‘culture of death.’ This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency. Looking at the situation from this point of view, it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak: a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another. Evangelium Vitae 12
Am pessimistic about the future of the pro-life movement?
No, because in the end goodness will triumph.
We are not at all near the end.
We can never forget that abortion is a cultural sin and the abortion rights culture is deeply ingrained in American culture. Accordingly, more restrictions, ultrasound machines and Supreme Court decisions will not change the culture although all are necessary bricks in our wall between goodness and murder. Until children are seen as a gift and not a cross, until pregnancy is once again understood as the expected end of the sexual encounter and not some shocking side effect, and until we accept that there can be no “right” to an abortion; the culture of death will march on impeded here or there for a while but still solidly entrenched and in play.
The Pro-Life Movement will ultimately triumph because the Pro-Choice Movement is so incredibly wrong. It has no legs other than the relativistic “because I want to” mode of reasoning. From a biologic, philosophical, medical and natural perspective, one can only conclude that abortion is the unjust taking of a life. There is little theology to it. Yet theology is the most important component because only Christ can pick up the pieces of a million shattered motherhoods times a million shattered fatherhoods times a million lives whose substance is known only to him. All that times 40! And Christ, through his Church will do this until he comes again.
Despite the cover of TIME, I remain unmoved and untriumphant. I view this like a news brief from Orwell’s Ministry of Truth – a head fake in the battle for life on the eve of our largest gathering. The fight for life remains on countless fronts – and while we have enjoyed some hard fought successes we can never forget the underlying sentiments of most of society (the three societal exceptions to abortion) are hardened and hard-wired.
All the regulations in the world will not change the hardened human heart or create a civilization of justice, peace and love.