Right now, it appears that the Pro-Life movement is doing some very serious and necessary soul searching. Pro-life groups are trying to figure out how to handle a majority pro-abortion government here in the United States. Many pro-lifers seem to be getting discouraged, as 36 years of pro-life legislative work may go up in smoke literally with the stroke of a pen. If any time in the history of the pro-life movement is ripe for a new approach, this is it.
The main problem with trying to end abortion in the United States is that too many Americans don't view abortion as unthinkable. They may never have one, they may strongly discourage others from getting one, but it's not held up as something that must never happen in a civilized society. Homicide and rape are unthinkable; even embezzlement from a corporation is considered beyond the pale.
In contrast to homicide and rape, abortion is seen as something that is a "woman's right", a private issue between her and her doctor. Because abortion is seen as a right, it's viewed as distasteful (for the most part) but essential to maintain. Of course, this is somewhat of a generalization, as there are very strong pro-life advocates who oppose abortion for any reason, as well as pro-abortion advocates who see no reason to ever limit abortion. It's safe to say that most Americans fall within a very large gray area between the two positions, but many Americans support some form of abortion rights, even if only for cases of rape or incest.
This leads to the problem with trying to legislate away abortion: it is highly unreasonable to expect that most Americans -- and their elected officials -- will ever support making what is viewed as a human right illegal. It just won't happen. To overcome this inertia towards the culture of death, those of us who are involved in the pro-life movement have to make abortion unthinkable before it can be made illegal.
This is not without precedent. The pro-life movement has long compared the fight to end abortion with the civil rights movement with culminated in the 1960's, with good reason. The civil rights laws that are on the books now were not able to be passed until a major percentage of the United States population found the concept of Jim Crow laws unacceptable. While there is still lingering racism within the United States, it is nowhere near the extreme levels that existed even up to the 1940's and 1950's. The civil rights movement was successful thanks in big part to its use of powerful imagery on national television, radio, and newspapers. Many of us who grew up in the period following the civil rights marches have heard the "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King and seen video recordings of marchers being blasted by firehoses and attacked by police dogs. These sounds and images contributed in no small part to the success of the civil rights movement.
For the pro-life movement, we need to get our message out as loud and clear as the civil rights message. One difference, however, is that we don't have most of the mainstream media on our side, so we will have to work harder to get that message across. It may take a lot of determination, some major failures, and many more small successes, a ton of prayers, not to mention a lot of time, work, and money, but we will be successful. We have to be. The future unborn generations are counting on us to succeed.
To accomplish our goal of ending legal abortion, I think we have a lot of work ahead of us. Yes, I'm speaking in the first person plural here. I'm throwing in my commitment to this work here and now. I've been involved in the pro-life movement on a local level over the past 9 years, including participating in the Crossroads Pro-Life walk in 2003, and I'm recommitting myself to seeing the pro-life movement succeed, not only in Montana or in the United States, but throughout the world. This does need to be an international effort, ending abortion in those countries where it is legal and keeping it illegal where it has not been legalized.
The work that we need to do will encompass far more than I can cover in one blog post. To this end, this is the first post of what I hope will be a roadmap that we as pro-lifers can use to advance our cause and end legalized abortion in this country. I don't want this to be a monologue on my part, so please consider this a discussion. Feel welcome to post ideas and thoughts in the comments section, or post your ideas on your blog, if you have one, and send me the links so they can be added to the discussion. I know I won't think of everything, so I welcome any and every bit of input I can get.
For now, I'm leaving the comment boxes unmoderated. This may be a risk, but it's one I'm willing to take if it will lead to open discussion.