Who's Responsible for Abortion?
I'm Pro-life and everything that entails--a non-partisan support of human dignity from Womb to Tomb. Which is what makes me so distressed at the current pro-life movement's nearly universal alliance with conservatism and the Republican Party. Sure, the republican party is "anti-abortion", but they are not pro-life. And sure, there are liberals and democrats that think abortion is wrong (and even some that are "pro-life"), but who are also "pro-choice". That's the problem with catch-phrases--they do an injustice to the complexity of the issue.
The problem with the pro-life movement in general is that it can't be aligned with any political party and when it is, it risks being plagued by the same ineffectiveness that has corrupted our political system.
The biggest mistake that people who are "anti-abortion" make is that they seek a primarily political solution to a problem that, in reality, is not a political problem.
Economy and Subsidiarity
Stepping away from the conservative side of the argument, there is a very popular argument among people that "fixing the economy" will reduce the number of abortions. The idea is that, since most abortions are due to financial concern, promoting a living wage, reducing poverty and unemployment, and making sure the family is well provided for will lessen the financial fear that comes with having a baby, and thus less people will seek abortions.
It is true that a just economy and healthcare are social issues--but someone who is against abortion as a principle is against it no matter the cost. Granted, better economic conditions would likely decrease abortion to some extent, but not to the degree that "Pro-Lifers" would prefer.
There is also the argument, from both sides of the political spectrum, that instead of focusing on making abortion illegal on the federal level, we should focus on passing laws at the state and local level. While subsidiarity is a valuable political practice, when it comes to abortion, local and statewide bans simply are not satisfactory enough. While babies in "red states" may get the benefit of pro-life legislation, the "blue state babies" are still suffering the injustice of Abortion as a political issue.
This is not to say we should work for a just economy. Or that we should not focus on abortion on a local level and work with lawmakers to the best of our ability. My point is that when we make political activism the primary way in which we reduce abortions, we are doing a disservice to the cause. This is because abortion is not primarily a political issue, and while as responsible citizens we should continue our work in the political sphere*, placing the burden of responsibility to "fix" the abortion issue exclusively on the political system will always be ineffective. Where then should the majority of our efforts be focused?
*This is actually a great avenue for the "secular pro-life" movement.
Where do you think most of the progress will occur in the pro-life movement.See results without voting
The Burden of Responsibility
Instead of focusing the majority of our efforts on the political cause of "Anti-Abortion", those of us who claim religious beliefs as the basis of our cause must put forth an equal effort into the non-political conversion of our country. This is because Abortion is a primarily spiritual and cultural problem. In short, as part of a utilitarian society that exclusively seeks pleasure and avoids pain, we will consistently out ourselves before anyone else.
Then, the primary responsibility of the pro-life movement is not to change legislation, but to change hearts. This makes the Church's primary call of witness and evangelization even more crucial. We will seek to change legislation, of course, but only in so far as it is an effect of the changing heart and cultural milieu of America.
There are groups and people within the pro-life movement already doing this, but I think as whole the people of the Church have failed to adequately do this because they have focused too long on the political agenda.
How do we go about this process of Evangelization which we are responsible for?
As with most issues in the Church, it is by treading the fine line between proclaiming the truth and loving the individual. While these two things should not be exclusive, they are increasingly hard to do in our culture. Evangelism is much more scary than political activism because it is much more personable. Unlike working through the political parties, there is not ideal to hide behind. There is only the sinner, the individual situation, and Christ.
As a result, most of us tend to either be alienating with our "Truth Hammers", or be too wishy-washy with our "Pastoral Hugs".
We must boldly adhere to our conviction that Abortion is wrong, but at the same time realize that it is a complex issue, that the baby is not the only victim, that we all are sinners, and that forgiveness and mercy is the first step in reconciliation.
It is a hard line to tread, and one not many have perfected. But if we are to win the war against the Culture of Death, it is one that every. single. believer. must work tireless to improve on. In this sense, Evangelism is a virtue, and virtue is only improved by practice and prayer.
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