John Clark is an author and speechwriter. His first book Who’s Got You? reached #1 in the Amazon Kindle “Fatherhood” category and his new book How to Be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford A Decent Cape was just released by Guiding Light Books. He has written hundreds of articles and blogs about Catholic family life and apologetics in such places as Seton Magazine, Catholic Digest, and Homiletic and Pastoral Review. A graduate of Christendom College, John and his wife Lisa have nine children and live in Virginia.
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, the voters in the State of Alabama passed a constitutional amendment protecting the unborn, which reads as follows:
To declare and otherwise affirm that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful; and to provide that the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
This amendment might prove to be one of the most important events in the pro-life history of our nation. As you might guess, the amendment—which passed in a 60% to 40% landslide—had to overcome a fair bit of opposition. For instance, one opposing advertisement pronounced, “This is just one more example of out-of-touch politicians trying to control women’s decisions.”
You’d think they were referring to the majority ruling of the Supreme Court that gave us Roe v. Wade. A ruling by seven unelected men. Men who are appointed for the job of judge and insist they have the job of legislator. Men who reject prenatal bioscience. Men who feel comfortable making decisions that will affect the lives of women forever. Men who believe they know better than the federal or state legislative branches. Men who believe that they should decide matters involving women and yet-to-be-born women, rather than letting elected representatives decide. Men who don’t allow their nation’s electorate—half of whom are women—to decide what should be law.
You’d think they were talking about the Supreme Court decision of 1973 rather than the Alabama amendment of 2018.
In truth, the Alabama amendment is the opposite of Roe in almost every conceivable respect, including its method of passage. We often hear it said that “America is a democracy.” Of course, it is not. The Constitution outlines the structure of a constitutional republic, in which an elected Congress formulates ordinances, an elected president signs these ordinances into law, and a Supreme Court serves to determine whether these laws are consistent with the Constitution and its Amendments—like the 14th Amendment, which states, “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.” The truth is that we don’t directly govern ourselves, but rather choose others to govern us.
Though “democracy” is an inaccurate term for our American republic, it is frequently meant as a term of endearment that highlights the fact that we Americans like to think that we govern ourselves. And happily, though infrequently, sometimes we actually do.
What’s the best example of self-governance? It is when issues, rather than candidates, appear on the ballot—and voters directly decide these matters. That self-governance is even stronger when our votes form an enduring law. Thus, in America, the single greatest example of self-governance is the process of individual men and women directly voting on a constitutional amendment.
That is what the voters in Alabama just did, and it does not get any more democratic than that.
Rather than the product of “out-of-touch politicians,” this amendment is the result of an in-touch electorate whose majority, despite 45 years of frustration and political defeats, refuses to give up on the unborn and their God-given right to life.
Mother Angelica would be proud of Alabama.
One personal note: As a Buckeye, this vote leaves me in the rather awkward position of being tempted to root for Alabama football. For consistency’s sake, if I’m going to boycott Ireland for turning its back on the unborn, I’m going to cheer Alabama for sheer gratitude of their defense of the unborn. So, for the foreseeable future—at least through early January—I’ll be greeting people with: “Roll Tide.”