By Dave Andrusko
Editor’s note. The following is the conclusion to the opening essay, “An insatiable thirst for killing, ” that appeared in “To Rescue the Future: the Pro-Life Movement in the 1980s,” a collection of first-rate essays assembled by NRLC. Although written many years ago, I believe the insights and applications are as relevant today as they were when first written.
This brief essay is an attempt to place in context a few of the enormous number of changes that have occurred in the politics of abortion. Much, much more could be said about the organizational maturity of the movement, and the socio-political context in which we fight for life. The contributors to this volume will elaborate on most of the issues I barely touched on as well as many others.
But the bottom line is you. We can only contribute what ideas, insights, and energy we have. It is up to you, the readers of this book, and the millions of other pro-life Americans to re-establish the protection of law for all God’s children.
The battle for life is not between pro-lifers and pro-abortionists, traditionalists and feminists, but rather between justice and injustice. Our opponents and their allies in the media know this deep down in their hearts, which is why they denounce us so bitterly.
The battlelines are clear: Either life is for everyone or the right to life is doled out at the whim of the powerful. Abortion represents in miniature a struggle that ultimately must result in the total victory of one answer to this question or the other, for the principles at stake are absolutely irreconcilable.
If the partisans of “choice” win, what remains of our tattered sanctity of life ethic will be dismantled, piece by bloody piece. The pro-abortion position is at war with the core principles of our nation, because it is based on the right of the more powerful to oppress the less powerful,
They are so blinded by their own rhetoric that they hold “choice” to their bosoms as if it represented a kind of philosopher’s stone that magically converts cruelty into kindness, selfishness into altruism. But barbarism with a smiley face is still barbarism.
What they will never understand is that if the pro-life approach to problem pregnancies wins the day, then everyone wins; no lives are taken. Pro-lifers are just that: pro-life. We will do everything we can to help women facing troublesome pregnancies, or parents grappling with the birth of a child with handicaps.
What we will not do is promise a one-stop, once-and-for-all solution to the human condition. That is the province of the pro-abortionists. As great simplifiers, they promise what we cannot and would never promise: twenty-minute solutions to complex human problems. All we can offer is love, compassion, and a life-sustaining choice.
As pro-lifers, we toil for a cause that is just. No amount of money, no full-page ads in the New York Times, no stream of hate-filled editorials will ever convert the slaughter of defenseless children into a just act. Fr. Richard Neuhaus famously told pro-lifers at the 1982 National Right to Life Convention that the pro-life movement is radical not because of how far it is, but by “virtue of how deep and central is the question we raise: Who, then, is my neighbor?”
Neuhaus said the abortion issue is one of the greatest tests the American experiment has ever undergone. He said we should not be discouraged if our hope of victory is delayed for “we are recruited for the duration, we must be long-distance radicals – we must never give up.”
We will not give up… but, of course, you know that already.
What we must remember is that the local neighbourhood abortion clinic did not just appear out of nowhere. It had a long and dishonorable lineage. Its origin is a cruel mentality, one that worships power. It represents a view of life that limits the quality of humanness to those who are powerful enough to throw off the chains of their oppressors.
When you think about it, there is a fundamental irony at the heart of the battle to save the children. For it is the pro-life movement, scorned and ridiculed by the media as a “reactionary” force, that is the principal defender of the most revolutionary idea of the American experiment – the idea that all men and all women and all children, born and unborn, are created equal.
It is our duty and our privilege to keep that beacon of hope shining in a time of great darkness. When the inevitable discouragement sets in, just remember, as someone once wrote, that in the long sweep of history truly human victories are always upsets.