There has been a lot of talk about the pro-life movement recently, both good and bad. Conservatives have been thrilled with Trump’s first few weeks in office as he has already made strides to reverse some of the damage of our country’s multiple pro-abortion laws. Liberals, on the other hand, are screaming that Trump is looking to ruin men and women’s lives by preventing women from having easy access to abortions. Conservatives are eagerly anticipating the day that the unborn child might be recognized as a human person with rights, regardless of whether or not they are wanted. Liberals are anticipating with dread the day that women begin to die after seeking illegal, unsafe abortions, or else are forced to endure a pregnancy and birth that they do not want, are forced to see the face of the clump of cells that they would have preferred never existed. Both conservatives and liberals find themselves up in arms, defending their positions to those who do not agree with them, talking around and around the issues about which they will most likely never see eye to eye.
Since Donald Trump became president, an event that just occurred a few weeks ago, he has already cut Planned Parenthood funding internationally, and the House of Representatives is looking to remove abortion access from the coverage offered through multiple forms of health insurance, both federal and private. This will mean that insurance will no longer cover abortions, potentially leading more women to carry their children to term. This will also mean that employers and other agencies will not be required to pay for abortions, since the law would extend not only to federal programs like Medicare, but also to private insurance companies. This law could have far-reaching consequences, as can many of the other pro-life laws that conservatives would like to see in effect, and it’s important that pro-life groups be prepared.
Ultimately, it won’t be enough to change the laws in our country. It won’t be enough to ban abortions, or make them more difficult to attain. It won’t be enough to repeal Roe v. Wade, or any of the countless other laws that have created the pro-choice culture in which we live. If we’re going to really create a pro-life society, we can’t just change the laws. We have to change the culture. President Trump seems to be a perfect example of what happens when you’re willing to change the laws, but are not concerned with the culture. He’s clearly embracing the pro-life platform of the Republican party, but I don’t think most people would consider him pro-life. Sure, he’s looking to repeal and pass the appropriate laws to bring about a more pro-life society, but the vast majority of his actions do not suggest that he has much respect for the dignity of life.
If the pro-life movement is going to be truly successful, they will have to do more than just fight for the right kinds of laws. They will have to fight for the right kind of culture. The laws can only do so much good if the general populace is not properly educated, if their hearts do not see the value of life. If the poor woman who finds herself pregnant and unable to pay for an abortion does not recognize the dignity of her unborn child, she might seek alternative measures. If she is truly desperate, she might be willing to risk her life in seeking an illegal, unsafe abortion. She might believe that she has no other choice. In the years since abortion became something accessible on demand, countless women have chosen to abort their children, believing that the procedure was only minimally risky (in reality, abortions are already risky, particularly at the later stages of pregnancy, and no one has given much consideration to the emotional damage done). In quite a few of those cases, those women felt as if they had no choice. They might have been pressured into it by the man who got them pregnant, or else by a family member. They might have felt that they were not ready, emotionally or financially. They might have seen no other option.
In the event that Roe v. Wade, or countless other pro-choice laws, are overturned, women will still find themselves in this situation, pregnant and unprepared. If we are to establish the pro-life culture that is necessary to support pro-life laws, we must be willing to give of our time, talent, and treasure. We must be willing to educate young women- to teach them that the unborn child is a human person with rights and that other options are available. We must be willing to provide the funds necessary to bring about this kind of education, as well as to support those programs that will provide these women with prenatal care, and potentially postpartum assistance as well. And ultimately, we must be prepared for the fact that there will be countless babies in need of families. We have to admit that many of these women will choose not to raise their children themselves and will put their babies up for adoption. If we are going to be truly pro-life, we as a society need to make sure that both these mothers and their children are taken care of. We will need to make sacrifices to create a more pro-life culture.
If we have not created this type of culture by the time Roe v. Wade gets repealed, we will be unable to handle the consequences. We have to create a culture that respects human sexuality, that recognizes that the gift of self that is part and parcel with sexual intercourse is only meant to be found in marriage. We have to create a culture that upholds the dignity of the human person, both male and female. If there was more respect for the human person and for human sexuality, there would be fewer unwanted pregnancies. If we viewed the conceived child as a gift rather than a choice, there would be fewer unwanted children.
We have to create a culture that is accepting of large families, families that might be a blend of both biological and adopted children. We have to create a culture that will show every mother and every child love and compassion. Without this culture, our efforts to repeal pro-choice laws and pass pro-life ones will all be in vein. Without this culture, our work will be for nothing, our vision of the future will be unsustainable. Laws can only do so much; if the culture does not support the laws, they will change again in another four years. If we want to see lasting change, we must change the hearts and minds of Americans. Our battle against the culture of death has only just begun; there is still much to be done if we want to live in a culture of life.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!