Today, hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers from all over the country will gather for the 41st year at the March for Life to speak out for life and against the horrors of abortion. There will be people who were at that very first march in 1974, but those will be vastly outnumbered by the thousands of young people–teens and college students–for whom 1973 is ancient and tragic history.
Aside from the March for Life, there are pro-life groups in every state–the oldest being Virginia Society for Human Life which started in 1968. In addition to the political and educational groups, there are hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes to help mothers choose life for their babies. There are student groups and church groups, those involved in politics, and those involved in collecting diapers, maternity clothes, and layettes.
The pro-life movement is many things, enduring, dedicated, humble and compassionate to name a few. But perhaps the most notable thing about the right-to-life movement is that it is truly a grassroots movement. It did not begin in a conference room, but in church basements and living rooms as people began to ask themselves what they could do to protect children. The first groups formed in cities and states, not in Washington. Of course, it has grown, and now the National Right to Life is a powerful voice for life in the nation’s capital, and other groups of all types speak for the voiceless. But even now, it is a group fueled by the passion and dedication of average Americans, not professionals, and certainly not politicians.
Of course, in our country abortion is a political issue, and thus you have to deal with politicians. But aside from a handful of unique people (Chris Smith and Henry Hyde come to mind, there are a few others), it is not a politician’s movement. While politicians are necessary in the efforts to save children, there are very few who can be considered right-to-life leaders. Most of them will cast a pro-life vote when called upon and perhaps attend their state right to life group’s annual event. Of course, they’ll gladly take pro-life citizens money and votes.
But it is the pro-life citizens who are the ones who are in the business of changing hearts and minds to build a culture of life. It’s the volunteer and the activist who educate their friends and neighbors, who do the hard work of research and strategizing, and then who give “brave politicians” slow, fat balls right over the plate: “Hey, how about we not force tax payers to fund abortions? There’s an easy vote. Let’s not let minors have major operations without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Can I get an “aye” on that? Or this doozy: what do you say we make delivering a baby almost completely, stabbing her in the back of the head and sucking out her brains illegal? That sound doable?” (Bill Clinton vetoed that bill twice.) Especially in recent years, they aren’t required to cast many difficult votes, they just knock the balls off the tees that pro-lifers have very helpfully set up for them.
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Pro-life politicians aren’t required to be particularly brave on abortion. Case in point, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is a bill that looks at the latest science on what we know about fetal development, and says “How about let’s not dismember unborn children who can feel pain. That’s barbaric.” In fact, America is one of only a handful of nations that allows abortion after 20 weeks. It’s not rocket science and it really shouldn’t be difficult for a politician who calls himself or herself pro-life to not only vote for, but also to speak out in support of the bill.
Which brings us to today. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was scheduled to be debated on the floor of the House of Representatives, but it’s been dropped because . . .? (Honestly, if you can’t get the votes on legislation that’s favored by Americans by two to one, what good are you? “I’m pro-life as long as I don’t have to do anything about it.” What a bold, principled stand.)
Pro-lifers have been marching and praying and providing for mothers and children and calling and educating and generally working to establish the culture of life for more than forty years. If need be, they’ll be marching for another forty, fifty, or God forbid, one hundred years. But if the politicians who claim to be pro-life don’t do their piddling little part, we can find someone else to follow the camp. It’s not like it’s a difficult job.
*Yes, I’m calling politicians prostitutes. I just want that to be clear.