Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
“You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other Allied Nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany and the destruction of her Armed Forces.”
—Directive of General George C. Marshall to General Dwight D. Eisenhower
General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, gave his newly appointed Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force something that pro-life people have not managed to develop in over forty years of fighting the culture war. He gave him a clear-cut objective.
The paragraph at the top of this post quotes the order that General Marshall gave General Eisenhower at the start of Eisenhower’s tour of duty as Commanding General of the US forces in the European Theater of World War II. Eisenhower carried out this order and won the war in Europe.
Notice that General Marshall did not say one word about such things as whether or not to invade the continent of Europe by crossing the English Channel or by going up the boot of Italy, or even across the Pyrenees in Spain. He did not tell General Eisenhower to focus on a ground invasion or to use saturation bombing. The orders he gave established a clear-cut military objective. They did not dictate strategy. They certainly did not mention tactics.
The pro-life movement has been wandering in the political battlefields, winning tactical points and losing tactical points with each election. It has placed its entire operation in the hands of one political party, and has, by doing this, put the “issue” of abortion — and the lives that are lost by abortion — at the service of partisan electioneering.
Not once in all these years of culture warfare has the pro-life movement attempted to develop an overall objective. That might seem like picayune nit-picking to some pro-life people. But I assure you it is not.
The number one reason that the pro-life movement wanders and ends up getting used politically, is that it does not have a clear-cut objective. We have been laboring all these years toward a strategic goal which, in itself, would not mean the end of legal abortion. Worse, even this strategic goal has proven itself impossible to achieve. Indeed, all our efforts in that regard have resulted in unintended consequences which have actually hurt rather than helped the overall cause we believe in.
I am referring to the strategic goal of packing the Supreme Court with pro-life justices who will return the question of abortion to the states. All our striving toward that goal has resulted in a bitter cultural divide and a nutty Supreme Court. Instead of returning abortion to the states, we have gotten ourselves a Court that legalized gay marriage.
Even if we had succeeded in getting a pro-life Court — and I don’t think there is a consensus on what a “pro-life Court” is in the specific and real-life sense — all we would have accomplished is returning the question of legal abortion to the states. Do you understand what that would mean?
It would mean that we would be setting ourselves up for unending back-and-forth and electioneering on the state level that would go on for decades into the future. We would not save lives. We would instead guarantee more of the same tawdry and destructive politicking we’ve seen so far.
Our problem goes back to what we don’t have. We don’t have an objective. Because we don’t have an objective, we cannot formulate strategies to achieve it. Because we don’t have strategies, we cannot formulate tactics that get us any nearer to the end of the fight.
The most effective voices for pro-life have risen from young people with initiative. Look at Lila Rose’s work at Live Action and the videos currently being released by the Center for Medical Progress. These two groups are building on the passion of young pro-life people. For years now, Feminists for Life has focused on college campuses, where the pro-life movement has been weak. I believe that this is bearing fruit for the pro-life movement now.
However, even this fine work will be wasted if it is not employed as part of a strategic push to achieve a clear-cut pro-life objective. Right now, the outrage rising from the videos that the Center for Medical Progress is being shunted into a push for the 2016 elections. Defunding Planned Parenthood — which would be an enormous strategic victory — is not a serious action item for pro-life politicians. Their plan is to use public outrage caused by the videos as part of their strategic planning for their objective, which is to acquire more power for themselves in elections.
Why do they do this? They do it because the strategy that best serves their objectives is to keep this war going. It’s really as simple as that.
I’m going to write about developing real-world, grown-up political objectives, strategy and tactics for the pro-life movement. I have no doubt that in the course of this discussion I will be called a few choice names. That’s OK. I’m telling you the truth, my friends. It’s not a pretty truth, but it’s as real as those tiny baby bodies in the videos.
We need a clear-cut objective so that we can develop strategy and tactics that move our cause forward rather than sending it forever in circles. We need to stop spinning our political wheels and win this fight for life. Here is a suggested objective: Convert the culture and pass laws that make direct abortion illegal.
(I say direct abortion to account for the distinction between abortion and legitimate medical procedures that save the life of a mother, but that result indirectly and unintentionally in the death of her unborn child.)
This is, as I said, just a suggestion. You may have other ideas about what our objective should be. That’s why I’m writing this post. I want to focus your thinking on developing ideas for an effective and intelligent overall objective for the pro-life movement.
Remember: We are not attempting to develop specifics, such as strategy. The question of whether to go for a constitutional amendment or something else would be a strategy. We are also not trying to develop tactics. Decisions about which candidate to support or how to handle the political parties are tactics.
The question I’m putting in front of you is simply this: What one sentence order would you give to the Supreme Allied Commander of the Pro-Life Forces in the United States of America?
Now I’m going to back off and let you have at it. Let’s see what ideas you can develop.