|Abortion is a moral evil. It is wrong. Most simply, abortion takes a unique human life that would fully develop in the safety of its mother's womb, and trashes it before it has the ability to live independently. We were all zygotes. We were all fetuses. We were all infants. None of us carries any memories from the early years of our lives, but does this mean we were somehow not real? That we couldn't live on our own, did that make us disposable? Of course not. If abortion is the unjust destruction of innocent human life, it is wrong.
But what can we do about it? Since the Supreme Court declared abortion legal, tens of millions of lives have been snuffed out. Abortion has become a societal norm. It's accepted. People are apathetic about it. There's seemingly nothing to be done.
Hogwash. You Can Make a Difference.
It sounds cliche, but it's true. The opportunities to change real lives in a meaningful way are well within your grasp. In the movie Juno, it is one of the protagonist's peers, holding vigil outside of an abortion clinic who convinces the young woman to bring her child to term.
Juno is just a movie, but thousands of people outside of clinics have the chance to influence pregnant women before they make a rash decision regarding their well-being and the life of their child. Sidewalk counseling makes a difference. There are people walking around today because someone talked to their mothers regarding abortion.
Sidewalk counseling represents one of the many opportunities to make a difference in the battle for life. The American Republic offers numerous avenues to influence or change government outcomes. There's room for everyone in the movement to save lives.
But we always lose
It took almost two centuries from when the first abolitionist societies appeared in the United States before slavery was finally ended, we must have patience. Abortion is the most important moral battle of our age. Excuses like the above, stemming from the results of the last two elections where a radical pro-abortionist was elected to the presidency and a pro-life measure was defeated on the ballot in South Dakota, are depressing and wrong.
But the psychological damage has been done. If the Life movement is always losing, what's the point? In Massachusetts, if our best choices are between rabidly pro-abortion Democrats and lukewarm pro-abortion Republicans, what's the point people say?
Overturning Roe v. Wade will be a long political road, but one worth traveling. Since Roe, pro-lifers helped elect presidents who have put strict constructionist judges on the Supreme Court. These judges don't see the right to abortion in the constitution and they will be necessary to protect the rights of states to enact their own laws regarding abortion. Many of these states have passed abortion rules and regulations which have saved millions of lives in the meantime, and these are victories.
We depend on the political muscle we can flex. If we are completely irrelevant in politics, we will be completely irrelevant in law, policy and enforcement. Even when we can't elect angels as our representatives, the perfect pro-life partisans, we can make a difference so that the lesser of two evils gets elected. We can target the rabid abortionists in primaries, and we can work within the culture to help encourage others to vote their conscience.
Even when we lose, we force pro-abortion politicians to fight for their seats. Even when we lose, we train our people on how to win, we learn from our mistakes. Despite our setbacks we prepare for the perpetual fight, the campaign ends only when all the unborn are saved and protected. We need to stop worrying about minor defeats in single elections and instead learn from those setbacks and keep working to the day when we start winning those local seats, then the regional ones, and finally the statewide ones.
Politics depends on organization, on political force, and we can't muster that if we keep leaving the field of politics because we lose one election.
Even through our defeats, our setbacks and our understandable frustrations, though, we must persist until every unborn child is protected in law and valued by our culture. That should be non-negotiable.
Pro-lifers hold a lot of sway that we too often cynically dismiss and ignore. President Obama was forced to compromise with Pro-life Democrats several times during the healthcare debate. Whether the result of the compromise was in fact a meaningful victory is beside the point, what is important is to realize pro-lifers in both parties affect the outcomes of major legislation and help prevent taxpayer money from funding the destruction of human life.
Outside of the political arena, there is still the very important persuasion aspect. If you convince one woman not to abort her child, you have saved a life. Many can go their entire lives and not have an accomplishment as great as that. Many soldiers enlist into the military on that idea of making a difference and saving a life, and never get the chance to save one, yet it happens every day in the pro-life movement.
But it won't be permanent change
In the decades since Roe public opinion has moved against abortion on-demand. The culture is changing our way, slowly. There is no reason why this trend can't continue. The technology of ultrasounds will continue to prove what we already know: children in the womb deserve all rights and protections. Technology will also allow us to see these children, and know that they are thinking, dreaming, feeling pain and joy, and learning. Time is on our side, and the truth will eventually prevail. We must be vigilant. Despite an increasing population, the numbers of abortions are about a third lower per capita than they were twenty years ago. This is progress, too slow, but it is measurable progress.
Is this progress permanent? Is anything? If you saw someone bleeding, you'd surely help them. But if they're going to die eventually anyway, why go through the effort? None of us are here permanently. Few human institutions have stood the test of time. Just because an accomplishment is not permanent does not make it any less of an accomplishment. Should we stop building bridges and roads? They're not permanent either. And they have the annoying habit of requiring repair.
We act in politics to pass laws that save lives, and occasionally those laws are overturned by activist courts, neutralized by unfriendly legislatures or ignored by repugnant Governors, but it is progress to have those laws as a starting point. Working within politics is never easy, direct or final, and our persistence is required to ensure that we make continued progress over time.
None of this will have any impact on my soul
If we can help bring life to those who would have lost it otherwise, it is our moral obligation to help. I've actually heard some argue that it's not; our souls are saved through faith alone. Untrue. Faith without good works is dead or is nonexistent. A righteous person who walks by a drowning child and does not help is no longer a righteous person or their faith was never sincere.
And whether the works themselves are sanctifying or it is a mark of true faith to be taking action, the outward sign is the same: direct action in our time, righting wrongs and not simply complaining about the world but acting to change it. You and I will never make utopia, but there are certain moral wrongs that we can stop in society and prevent from reoccurring.
The scriptures consistently tell us that faith and good works are complementary; James 2:18-20:
But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Some people become convinced at this point to get involved. But doing good works and becoming politically active are different beasts. There are a lot of good pro-lifers who stay away from politics and focus their efforts on sidewalk counseling and pregnancy centers. There is nothing wrong with this but the pro-life movement needs outreach too.
Isn't politics evil? Isn't Democracy inherently flawed?
Our democracy offers many opportunities to affect legislation. I outline specific steps to take at the end of this article. However there are a lot of naysayers who find any excuse to not participate in the messy political process. The common fallacy among these people is to declare democracy as being too inherently flawed to be worth the effort. There are too many compromises, too many sophists, too much feigned indignation.
To this I say: Sure. No system of government is without its flaws. Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes and other philosophers have long understood the practical problems in any democratic system. But this is just a red herring. Just because a system is flawed does not mean its actions are insignificant. And just because a system is flawed does not mean we can't affect the outcomes. Since the actions of our democracy affects the lives of millions, we can't ignore it just because it has flaws.
Frankly, many of these people use these conversations to likely mask their own cowardice at taking serious action. They spend hours arguing minor philosophical points instead of taking the most basic action. And to be sure, no baby has ever been saved through a philosophical debate between two pro-lifers, but a baby is often saved through the simple act of showing up to their execution and speaking gently to their mother or father as they walk into the abortion clinic.
Words will not save babies, only actions save babies.
Nowhere else in society is it easier to save a life than in the pro-life movement.
Abortion has always been around... it's a part of society and our history now
Pessimism runs deep. Normally in answer to these points the negative thinker will tell me that even if the government can be guided there is simply no history for the Life movement to build off of, that abortion was always a part of society. This statement is, like all excuses to stay on the sidelines, untrue.
Before Roe there was a long history of protecting life in the U.S. In fact, Roe actually overturned the Pro-life sections of some state constitutions and overturned anti-abortion laws in 46 states. But even if we ignore what happened before Roe, it's been forty years since Roe. That's plenty of history which we know it to be wrong. One of our Presidents, Reagan, actually wrote a book on abortion while he was in office. That alone is a significant legacy of the Life movement. If you don't think it's enough, then make some more history.
Help take actions to end the history of abortion, let us remake the world anew in the splendor of loving and protecting the young. What's past is merely prologue.
The only constant is change. If we want a pro-life future, it's up to you and I to build it, together.
Politics is evil
Even still, objects at rest wish to stay at rest. "All of politics is evil," says the lethargic, "and therefore participation in the process is also evil."
I always wondered if the reason we think politics is evil is because we choose to let the evil ones be the only players, thus fulfilling our own prophesy.
But politics is not evil.
Much of the political process can be unpleasant and disappointing. There are a lot of long meetings to attend, seemingly pointless conference calls, and they ask quite a bit of work. But this is mostly confined to actual party activism. Working for a candidate you admire with people you like can be very fulfilling. Lots of good can come from the political process. And a lot that's bad. If you don't work for the good, you allow the bad to win.
And we see this in the political parties. When fresh blood enters into the party system, all they see are barriers and all they feel is confusion. It becomes easy to blame the political parties for making real change impossible. But don't let this stop you. The major political parties are large organizations with complex leadership structures that can be bewildering to people not accustomed to the whole process. It is important to understand the parties are a reflection of their membership. It's a diverse membership made up of people with varying interests. They are human institutions and therefore imperfect.
The political parties make change impossible
From a distance, the actions of the two parties, the hypocrisy, the short-term memory loss and the blind partisanship, are rather humorous. But we can acknowledge truth without giving up on the institutions themselves. By showing up, participating and working for pro-lifers in both parties, we move this country towards acknowledging the rights of the unborn.
Abortion is a cultural issue, not a political one
Maybe abortion isn't a political issue. Maybe it's a cultural one. If this were true, it would make all of our political work futile. But we're ignoring the practical side of the Life movement; we're here to prevent abortions. If we ignore politics and only focus on fighting the culture war, we are allowing more abortions to happen.
The recent healthcare defeat shows us that we cannot ignore politics, policy, legislation and elections. It's estimated that over 10 million children were saved by the Hyde Amendment in 30 years. That's a mid-sized state of this country that is here because of politics, policy, legislation and elections.
To those who say there's no political solution to abortion, ask them if they can accept 10 million more deaths over the past generation, which has been the effect of the Hyde Amendment.
The moment Barack Obama took the oath of office as President of the United States, he changed American policy regarding abortion. Signing an executive order on January 23rd of 2009, Obama reversed the Bush policy of not providing federal money to international organizations that support and pay for abortions. Not only do those groups pay for abortions throughout the world, they lobby for the easement of abortion restrictions. One political change in America may affect the culture of other nations in the world. Think about that.
Politics and culture are interrelated. The culture influences the political and vice versa. The law, in its way, is a powerful cultural statement about the values of a nation. Charismatic political leaders like Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy inspire millions even today through their political words and political deeds. Political results like the election of Barack Obama can change a society by introducing the culture of death across the world. One's apathy has real-world consequences anathema to core beliefs. You owe it to your values to be an active player in the political arena.
We just need to pray it all away
A prayer isn't going to vote for you. Don't get me wrong, I love prayer. I regularly pray. Prayer is an important part of the inner spiritual journey we all take in life. It gives us comfort and guides us. But you must add action to your prayer or else it is meaningless. Prayer should lead you to guided action, not simply to more prayer. There are a great many things to do, and you have to do them yourself.
But relax, it's not rocket science. You help just by showing up. You are a resource; everyone has something to bring to the movement. The more people we have in the movement, the more resources the movement has to use. In 2009 there were over 250,000 people in attendance for the March of Life in Washington DC. This is up from 5,000 in 1988. The movement has been steadily growing since Roe.
The time is now.
Here are some actual things you can do to get started:
1) Join the local chapter of your preferred political party.
The Life movement needs good people in both major political parties. Abortion should not be a Left/Right issue; it's about protecting innocence. Even the most ardent abortion advocates have great difficulty in defining when life begins. Having pro-lifers in both political parties strengthens the movement. You can start by visiting either the Democrat or Republican website and click the "Get Involved" button.
The party structures in Massachusetts are complicated, and it can take many years before you can crack the system. Other pro-lifers you meet along the way will be your biggest asset.
2) Contact your local representatives whenever a Life issue appears.
Whenever you contact your representative, it matters. You can influence their decisions. And if nothing else, you can let them know your money and your vote are going somewhere else if he or she chooses to support legislation that will further enables our culture of death.
More importantly, you need to encourage pro-life representatives. They have a hard time being assertive on the issue. It takes courage, and courage takes encouragement. A letter or a phone call makes a tremendous difference for these pro-lifers and even affects those who aren't. Everyday they have to work with people who want nothing less than government-funded abortion-on-demand. It's easy to lose your values when nobody else around you has them or you can see those who do.
3) Get involved with local pro-life groups
To repeat: There's room for everybody. Crisis pregnancy centers can always use your skills. There are a few homes for pregnant women that could use your help, like Visitation House in Worcester. Pro-life groups can always use someone who can answer a phone or write a press release. Even something as simple as helping a young woman understand how to handle pregnancy physically can be invaluable.
4) Advocate for the unborn in public forums
People rarely hear the true arguments of the Life movement. Normally they get shallow reiterations of short slogans from either side. They never get to hear the strong philosophical considerations that goes into the Life movement. Whenever some mindless dribble about "choice" is tossed into a newspaper or on some website, it's important that we pro-lifers are there to remind people about the nature of that "choice" and how arbitrary the "choice" value really is.
As well, you likely have natural apprehension or fear about public speaking, everyone does. You owe it to the babies and to yourself to practice your public speaking, to get a critical evaluation of your persuasive ability on the subject, and to practice potentially confrontational situations. Get involved with a chapter of MCFL and we'll help you develop your ability to be most effective in your pro-life communication.
5) Vote, donate and work for pro-life candidates
And this applies not only to general elections, but it also applies to primaries and leadership in the political parties. Firstly, pro-life candidates need all the help they can get. Being encouraged by other pro-lifers really makes a difference. Also, they can help you get involved in your political party at a deeper level.
6) Run for office
Where there's not a pro-life candidate to work for, be that pro-life candidate. This is the most challenging avenue to undertake, but it can be the most rewarding. Running for political office, even if you fail, gives you many contacts in the media, in the public policy world and among like-minded voters. Your candidacy can attract more people to the cause. And you don't have to run as the pro-life candidate, run as yourself and run on the important local issues. As Nixon was reported to say, "losers don't legislate" and your goal is to get into office, not to run a public campaign on abortion. Get into office and change the laws and policies from within. There are several good pro-life organizations in the state that help with candidate recruitment, training and campaigns.
7) Make phone calls
Whether making a call for a campaign or just informing people of a local pro-life event, many people throw out any piece of mail and don't have any opportunity to receive the pro-life message. Through phone calls, either from your house or from a pro-life office, you can help reach the people who are interested in helping out themselves, but can also answer people's questions about pro-life ideas.
8) Help distribute literature
There are many different types of newspapers, brochures and books that help articulate and advance pro-life ideas. By taking a small stack of newspapers and putting them in your trunk, you can leave 2 or 3 on the table where you get your hair cut, you can leave one at the dentist's office, and you can have one ready for a political conversation you get into. Having literature in your vehicle means you're always ready to plant the seed of winning pro-life ideas wherever you go.
9) Don't give up
It's too common to meet people active in pro-life affairs who give up after a year or two. Perhaps it's the stress of knowing the horrors going on in our midst, or the frustrations of politics, or angry conversations with friends, family members and coworkers, but too many leave our movement. We need to stay involved and focused, and help one another deal with the stress and frustrations we all naturally feel. We can't assume that people ought to be involved, and therefore will, we need to be a source of strength for one another.
10) Use your talents for pro-life ends
In business and in life, the things that we're truly good at are not always the things we enjoy doing. One might be passionate about photography but truly gifted at graphic design. And too often, we want to contribute only that which we're passionate about, and not what our gifts actually are, meaning that if you get praised and paid to do something, it is likely a gift. With only a tad of creativity, you can surely find a way to use those gifts for the pro-life movement. If you have trouble identifying your true talent, ask a friend. If you have trouble using your talent for the babies, talk to us and we'll help you find a way to do it.
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