When the Supreme Court imposed abortion on the country in 1973, the New York Times announced that the issue was at long-last decided, settled, put away for good.
As a kind of exclamation point or perhaps stake through the heart, no less than the Southern Baptist Convention praised the Roe v. Wade decision as good for the country.
To all but a small remnant of mostly Catholics, to hold the pro-life position was a shameful thing. Not long after Roe, no more than 35 percent of Americans would even self-identify as pro-life.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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Yet here we are in 2016 and one could say that this issue that was supposed to be settled long ago is the least settled issue in our politics. It is certainly close to being settled in Europe where the pro-life cause gets next to no traction politically. Ask the typical Brit, or Frenchman, or German and she will say, “No, we don’t really have a pro-life movement” even though they do. Yet, here in the states our pro-life movement is bristling with growth and strength and results.
Fifty-one percent of Americans now self-identify as pro-life. Most Americans now believe in strict regulations of abortions, even those who call themselves pro-choice.
Eighty percent of millennials believe abortion should be banned after twenty weeks.
Seventy percent of blacks believe abortion should be banned after twenty weeks.
More than 300 pro-life laws have been passed in state legislatures over the past few years. As pro-aborts like to point out, that’s more than in the previous decade combined. These laws have had the effect of closing abortion clinics all over the country.
Abortion clinics are closing in droves. Abortions are down to 1.2 million from a high of 1.6 million in 1996.
The pro-life movement in America is the envy and inspiration of pro-life movements around the world.
From the notion that abortion was settled, to abortion being one of the most unsettled political issues of all time is a stunning achievement of what is no more than a rag tag band of underfunded amateurs sitting around kitchen tables, dorm rooms, and shabby conference rooms in Washington DC and state capitals.
On a fairly regular basis along come those on the political left to complain about the pro-life movement. They don’t much like pro-lifers. They say pro-lifers have not accomplished much. They say pro-life methods are ineffective, too narrow, too off-putting, too political, sometimes too icky. They say pro-lifers only care about fetuses and not about babies or children and certainly not about women or poor women, or healthcare, or the minimum wage, or gun violence.
You’ve heard this before, right? It reminds me of the time I sat at the Lincoln Memorial watching kids sliding down the marble banisters of the stairs. I sat there for hours one day. Each group of kids thought they were the very first to discover you could slide down. In the same way, there is this new group calling themselves, get this, the New Pro-life Movement, and they are here to tell us how to do it.
They are being organized by a group of bloggers at the increasingly wacky and irrelevant Catholic channel at Patheos. Besides the usual lefty chestnuts—healthcare as a right, gun violence, minimum wage, etc.,—they have added “intersectional feminism,” whatever that is, and I am almost certain we do not want to know.
What most chaps their keisters is what they called the “old guard” of the pro-life movement. You know, the “old guard” that has brought us to the point where most of the country is with us on the issue, the point where the ground is actually prepared so that the Supreme Court will be prepared to actually turn the issue back to the states. The “old guard” that created the woman-centered pro-life movement. The “old guard” that created thousands of crisis pregnancy centers. The “old guard” that nursed a massive youth movement. The “old guard” that passed hundreds of state restrictions on abortions. The “old guard” that created a global prayer network on abortion. The “old guard” that counsels women on the street. I could go on about all the awful things the “old guard” has done.
The real crime of the “old guard” is they went where they found a political home and that is the Republican Party and the Republican Party has not been perfect. Pro-lifers have had to fight to maintain our policy dominance in the party and some presidents have let us down in Supreme Court picks. And among the party membership there is not uniformity of opinion when it comes to our issue. All true, all true. But consider that you cannot run for president as a Republican without announcing you are pro-life. Without a doubt, it is the party that has most carried the pro-life message while the Democrat Party is without a doubt the party of death. One can be a dissenter on the life issue in the GOP. One must be pro-abortion in the Democrat Party. Pro-lifers have no home there even if they are “better” on the minimum wage.
But, let’s consider the political left on their own terms. They say rather than focus exclusively on the supply side, which we do not, we should focus more on demand, that is on the set of circumstances that drive women to abortion, economics. Fine, let’s consider poverty in America. Poverty was plummeting, falling off a cliff beginning after the Second World War until Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty kicked in. At that time, the US poverty rate stood at 14 percent. With tiny fluctuations up and down since then, that is exactly where it stands now, and this after spending $3 trillion dollars (adjusted for inflation).
Mirroring the federal government, the Catholic Church does far more about poverty in America than it does about abortion in America. The Catholic Church does an annual national collection for the very leftwing Campaign for Human Development, though I notice this year, the announcement from the pulpit did not use their name. There is no such collection for the pro-life cause.
Given that the poverty rate is not declining, on their own terms, the left in the Democrat Party and in the Church have failed utterly when it comes to poverty.
The pro-life movement is broad and deep and vast and there is room for everyone, even lefties who seek lefty solutions. But, as I see it, the New Pro-Live Movement is not really interested in establishing a new pro-life movement. Read their overheated rhetoric and you will see their real interest is in destroying the pro-life movement that has brought us closer and closer to ending abortion in America.
(Photo credit: CNS / Bob Roller)