First, evil always takes time to overcome. Evil is subtle and sly. As the Scriptures remind us, beginning way back in Genesis, Satan always disguises disobedience and sin in a positive wrapping. When Satan tempted our first parents, sin looked enticing and desirable. It is almost always the case that we only discover its disastrous effects after. Abortion will not go away easily. It is going to take the commitment of individuals armed with the love of God to persist in proclaiming the truth and offering mercy and support.
One historical example of this perseverance is William Wilberforce (1759-1833). Beginning as a politician and philanthropist, he had a conversion to the Christian faith in 1785, he spent an entire life devoted to ending the slave trade in Britain. There were no overnight successes, but a long, steady, courageous battle to win over the English public and to shepherd legislation through the Parliament. It was a long hard slog filled with many defeats and disappointments. For much of his life, Wilberforce was on the wrong end of public opinion, a minority, an extremist for his views. And yet God gave him the courage and backbone to hang in there. The prolife movement still has much work to do and will requires continued courage. Some question the commitment and feel Christians should abandon the issue. But if abortion is a moral evil, then we should not tire in seeing it abolished permanently.
Secondly, if we are going to win the cultural battle on abortion, then it will probably not happen through legislation, but Christians working together to change our culture. This is exactly what the early Christians did and how they transformed Roman society. We have many accounts of how the early converts to the faith and even many non-believers experienced the witness of Christians who reached out to the poor, would welcome slaves and the lower classes into their assemblies, and from several ancient accounts, fed the poor (not just their own Christian poor), gathered the abandoned children (abandoning unwanted children and infanticide was widely practiced in Roman society) into their homes, and if they were found dead, buried them alongside their saints and beloved deceased.
We have to continue to reach out with love and compassion to women and families in crisis pregnancies. This is where I want to give thanks for our own local Crisis Pregnancy centers and organizations. So many babies have been rescued by their efforts and the support parishes like ours offer. The real prolife ethic is devoted not primarily to politics, but to saving one baby at time, whether it’s an unborn baby, a trafficked young girl, or an immigrant. It’s easy to be prolife every four years in November. It takes work to save the life in front of you.
Thirdly, I think we need to look around us and observe, in particular the younger generation and appeal to them with the genuine messages that speak to them.
The siren call of today’s generation of young activists is justice. And this is good, because God is a God of justice and calls His children to be on the side of justice. The prolife movement needs to use 21st century language, to capture the hearts and minds of young people who are seeking truth and justice but perhaps have not been raised with a pro-life ethic.
And lastly, the Prolife Movement should not make women the enemy. The so-called “war on women” is mostly a media creation, a caricature of prolife activists. Most pro-lifers I know are generous, giving, compassionate souls. In championing the unborn we should not ignore the very difficult choices faced by young women and families every day. Let’s offer forgiveness and hope and point them to the grace of God found in Christ and His Church.
According to Gallup, only 41% of Americans consider themselves pro-choice. That’s a historic low. I think this is the result of many things, including the development and wide use of ultrasound technology, creative attempts to shape the media culture, and a younger generation keenly focused on justice for the vulnerable. And yet we have more work to do. Like William Wilberforce, we must persevere and not give up. Change, especially cultural change, takes a long time. Politicians largely respond to movements in the broader culture. So the more creative media we can develop, the more local support for our Crisis Pregnancy Centers, more compassionate and practical assistance means more small victories, more lives changed, and more babies saved..