Now that we’ve basked in the glow of the youthful throngs at the March for Life, let’s not ignore its lesson: The pro-life issue can transform America.
It’s February after January’s March for Life. The buses have been there and back. The pro-life marchers from around the country have had time to rest their weary legs, catch up on lost sleep and get back into their daily routines.
But our brains are still vibrating with the sights and sounds of 650,000 people pleading for America to respect the right to life of the weakest ones among us.
Now is the time we can see more clearly than at any other time in the year that being pro-life is America’s future — and that a pro-life America will be an America transformed.
A recent Time magazine cover said it like it’s a bad thing, and Business Week provided a state-by-state graphic showing just how real the change has been: America is becoming pro-life.
Each year, more and more reporters take their heads out of the sand, notice the March for Life and are shocked by its youth and vigor. Each year, more lions of the abortion movement are shaken to their cores to learn the lesson the March for Life keeps teaching ("I just thought, my gosh, they are so young," said NARAL president Nancy Keenan, 62, after happening upon marchers. "There are so many of them, and they are so young.")
Truly, "Pro-life is the new normal," as March for Life leader Jeanne Monahan put it. If you don’t believe her, George Weigel counted down the evidence for First Things in "Pro-Life Rising, 40 Years After Roe." And as a kind of corollary to the pro-life ascendancy, Fox News published "The Coming Collapse of the Abortion Lobby."
So, what does all this mean for pro-lifers? It means what we do next is crucial.
First, we have to keep up the good work. Keep helping women in crisis pregnancies; keep sharing "I regret my abortion" stories; keep sharing pictures with the "ultrasound generation"; keep lining the streets with "Abortion Kills Children" signs — and, above all, keep praying.
We’re close, but we aren’t there yet.
The way societal change works, getting 51% is half the battle. The next step is to push support to the tipping point — the critical mass at which a position goes from "normal" to "normative." Civil rights looked like it could go either way throughout the 1960s, until a certain percentage of support was reached. After that, political correctness made it impossible to be against civil rights, thank God. In the abortion battle, we need to go from "being pro-life is totally acceptable" to "being for abortion is totally uncool."
Second, we need to be prepared to take new pro-lifers to the next level.
Changing your mind on abortion can change everything, and these weeks after the March for Life are the perfect time to see that this is true.
I brought this up before, but my timing was terrible. During the Fortnight for Freedom, I confidently wrote "Let Us Count the Ways Pro-Life Will Triumph" — but published it the day Chief Justice John Roberts was fooled (or fooled everyone?) on Obamacare, and so it looked like naïveté. I brought it up right after the election, saying "Double-Down on Pro-Life," but that was the week that, whenever someone brought up politics, pro-lifers covered their ears and repeated: "I am in my happy place. I am in my happy place" and couldn’t listen.
But it’s true: Becoming pro-life is transformative. You have probably seen it in others, and you may even have seen it in yourself.
People who become pro-life start to be hopeful about the potential of the good and wise about the ways of the world.
They become hopeful about the future: "Lives are worth bringing into the world." They become wise about the sexual revolution: "Promiscuity hurts women and children — and men, too."
They become compassionate: "We should help women, not corner them into abortion." They see through the world’s easy answers: "They are willing to kill for a lifestyle."
They embrace science: "I don’t have to pretend that’s not a human being anymore." They become savvy about the abortion industry and its politicians: "They know what it is, but they do it for money."
They see the importance of marriage and responsibility: "We owe it to children to tame and direct our passions." They wake up about the mainstream media: "They are not telling people the truth; they are just serving an agenda."
Here is a handy checklist about the fruits of the pro-life position:
Becoming pro-life undermines moral relativism.
Becoming pro-life introduces people to "faith in things unseen."
Becoming pro-life teaches people to act out of hope instead of despair.
Becoming pro-life replaces destructive shortcuts with authentic love that makes hard choices.
Becoming pro-life reorders a voter’s priorities.
Becoming pro-life teaches people that rights don’t come from the state, but from somewhere above the state.
Becoming pro-life teaches people that duties and responsibilities accompany rights.
There is no "silver bullet" that will change the culture in one fell swoop. But the abortion issue is as close as we can get. With abortion, the devil has made the mistake he always makes: He goes for evil that is so extreme that it is bound to implode in a dramatic way.
The greatest triumph of evil in our day is that mothers are willing to kill their own children; the greatest threat to evil in our day is that, of course, mothers aren’t going to keep killing their own children (as one Washington Post writer who had an abortion put it, "Roe at 40: I don’t want my children to have 40 more years of this.").
Use whatever metaphor for the abortion issue you like: The abortion issue is the One Ring; destroy it, and the empire falls. Abortion is the Matrix: Expose it, and the world wakes up. The abortion issue is the left’s Achilles Heel. The abortion issue is the weak link on which the whole, rotting edifice hangs. The abortion issue is the camel’s nose under the tent, the point of the spear, the edge of the wedge.
However you say it, don’t miss the crucial March for Life lesson: We can win by changing hearts and minds about the evil of abortion, and when we do, we may find we have won on even more.
Tom Hoopes is writer in
residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.