Too often the pro-life movement is reduced to politics when in fact it is much more.
A Wall Street Journal article (read) states that the pro-life movement is fracturing. It is fracturing, according to them, because state law initiatives diverge from national legal strategies that seek incremental gains. These incrementalists warn that over-the-top or wobbly state initiatives risk being rejected at the Supreme Court, setting back the pro-life movement decades.
At the very least the article is myopically putting the whole of pro-life movement into a legal category. At any rate, there are no fractures because “pro-life” has always been a diverse movement. The pro-life movement is much more than some opaque legal struggle.
There are No Fractures
The pro-life movement is a natural reaction to defend innocent human life that motivates millions of people to organize and act. The pure, noble nature of the pro-life movement springs from each individual who supports and labors for it. Every state in the U.S. had to fight their fight. Every town had to fund their pregnancy center. One agency or national organization located near Washington D.C. does not make it representative of the whole.
The point is the pro-life movement has many moving parts (not “fractured”). It has been that way from the beginning. Disagreement about two opposing legal strategies is only a healthy outcome. No need to fret. In fact, most pro-lifers would agree that the only true fear we have is not doing enough today to save more lives and failing to end the threat to innocent human life.
Lazy or convenient summaries of what the movement is tend to be self-serving. We must reject false narratives of who we are. The pro-life movement is not a rigid structure with a few lead agencies and organizations that easily fractures with the failure of one strategy.
Reducing Pro-life to Politics is a Mistake
The pro-life movement is much more than a legal or political strategy. The movement pre-dates Roe v. Wade and will endure past it. This struggle for life began locally, it rose up from all denominations, all political stripes, men and women, black and white etc. It is the single largest civil rights and religious movement in history. It is political. It is religious. It is educational. It is activism. It is moral. It is scientific. It is philosophical as well as practical. It is measurable.
If the pro-life movement was just a synchronized legal approach, there would be a playbook to illustrate such genius. Since there is none, relying on a homerun political and legal strategy has more risk than some may be willing to admit… When was the last time Republicans failed to take meaningful action when in power? Easy. Just recently! Second, notice how Justice Roberts is now the newly-found-weakest-link in this foolproof incremental strategy. Will he or won’t he vote to overturn? Or will he simply vote to “protect the integrity of the institution”?
Attempting to reduce our battles to one legal strategy in the hands of a few is short-sighted. It forces us to wait for the live or die, once-in-a-lifetime, TV-hyped, Twitter-twisted, super dramatic mega-decisions that determine our fate.
Messaging is important. The message urging individual action is more appropriate than one asking you to wait for others to do the work. We must avoid outsourcing our personal duty to the gears of government and politics. Just as a law educates the masses, so too does pretending that smart lawyers can fix an existential threat to our nation… It numbs initiative and stunts the growth of a movement. Talk about leaving the pro-life movement hamstrung for another generation!
United in Purpose
Our fail-safe is to use all the strategies we can muster and all hands-on deck. This is what makes the pro-life movement strong and cohesive and gives it the power to repair culture. Increasing numbers of walks for life with growing attendance, a youthful following, growing awareness that pro-life is pro-science, opening horizons for direct service ministries via technology and digital marketing and the outright banning of pro-lifers by leftist platforms on the internet etc., are all very good signs we are on the right track.
Reducing the pro-life movement to anything else than what it is will render it moribund. If we dismiss that there is a Creator of all life, we strengthen the opposition’s hand by allowing a natural definition and relative description of human life. A bare-knuckle brawl in the courts and media based on life as a commodity or choice favors the untethered left. A cultural dialogue based on truth, engagement and charity favors the pro-life movement.
Upon starting Options United, I decided to use “united” in the organization’s name for a variety of reasons. However, the most basic reason, is because we believe that all people were created equally. We come from one Creator, one common source. Despite our apparent differences, we are fundamentally united. This connection drives all of us, beyond the concepts of ideologies, philosophies and strategies to protect the most vulnerable. We are united in purpose and are not fractured.