It’s easy to get discouraged in the pro-life movement. After all, we’ve been very actively waging this battle for four decades in the United States since abortion was made legal. And, still, millions of babies are aborted every year in our country. And it’s still a dangerous topic to bring up in mixed company, while popular opinion (although moving in a pro-life direction) remains fairly split. Sometimes it seems like things will never change.
But the truth is – we are winning. We just have to keep it up. Even honest abortion supporters are coming around to this reality. The truth can only be ignored for so long.
There was a surprisingly honest piece in the Washington Post last weekend that confirms all of this. It’s by a pro-choice woman (former president of Catholics for Choice – which is not Catholic at all) who basically admits that the pro-life argument is a winner and the pro-choice one is failing:
Opposition to legal abortion has increased dramatically. Opponents use increasingly sophisticated arguments – focusing on advances in fetal medicine, stressing the rights of parents to have a say in their minor children’s health care, linking opposition to abortion with opposition to war and capital punishment, seeking to make abortion not illegal but increasingly unavailable – and have succeeded in swinging public opinion toward their side.
Meanwhile, those of us in the abortion-rights movement have barely changed our approach. We cling to the arguments that led to victory in Roe v. Wade. Abortion is a private decision, we say, and the state has no power over a woman’s body. Those arguments may have worked in the 1970s, but today, they are failing us, and focusing on them only risks all the gains we’ve made.
She goes on to later admit, “We can no longer pretend the fetus is invisible” and that “ending the life of a fetus is not a morally insignificant event.”
This is a huge step. While it does give the pro-choice argument a new level of intellectual merit from the old “clump of cells – it’s not a baby, it’s my body you misogynist pig” argument, it will – in the end – help the pro-life cause tremendously. Anymore, anyone honestly engaging in the debate must inevitably face the scientific fact that a new human life begins at fertilization. And the closer the argument centers around the actual truth, the more complex and nuanced the excuses and justifications for abortion will necessarily become.
Complex, nuanced excuses don’t travel well in popular opinion. Which is why we continue to see more and more people coming around to the pro-life side and less and less people willing to defend this very real and morally dubious “choice.”
Instead, the author of this article suggests the pro-choice position should be argued based upon this:
Very few people would argue that there is no difference between the decision to abort at 6 weeks and the decision to do so when the fetus would be viable outside of the womb, which today is generally at 24 to 26 weeks.
She also claims that:
The public is ambivalent about abortion. It wants it to be legal, but will support almost any restriction that indicates society takes the act of abortion seriously.
In other words, she is saying we need to admit the obvious – “Abortion is a morally significant event that should be taken seriously. So we’d better stop down-playing it and pretending it’s no big deal or else people are going to stop taking us seriously.” And all of that is true.
That this realization is becoming more and more publicly widespread in the “pro-choice” crowd is great news for the pro-life movement. All of these new excuses beg more questions that ultimately can not be answered well by the pro-choice argument.
If an abortion is not morally insignificant, why?
If a baby being aborted at 24 weeks is more morally significant than one occurring at 6 weeks, why? What about 21 weeks? Or 16 weeks? Or 2 weeks? Where is the line?
Why would somebody’s age or their capability allow you to make a judgment over how more or less morally significant their life is?
Why would whether or not a human life needs the help of his or her mother (viability) make killing them more or less morally significant?
Why would somebody’s personal opinion/decision/choice make an unborn baby’s life more or less significant?
Pro-lifers have been waiting to have this debate. We welcome it. The reason many pro-choicers have historically held their hard line despite it’s ignorance of science and lack of rationality is because they don’t want to answer these questions. Because they know that they don’t have good answers for them.
They are beginning to realize they are in a lose-lose situation. And they are scrambling to find ways to lose more slowly. Let’s keep up the hard and necessary work. And do so with hope, love and joy.