This past Monday my wife and I attended the annual March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. which is held on (or around) the anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. Pro-lifers from around the country gather there to publicly put pressure on all three branches of the Federal government to end abortion in America. The weather usually isn’t that great, but people still make the trek from the Mall to the steps of the Supreme Court building carrying the banners of the pro-life message. Yet this will be the last year our family will participate in this event.
After taking a sober look at the situation of abortion in America, we’re now under the conviction that efforts at the national level to end abortion are a dismal failure. Worse still, they’re a farce. There’s a big difference between the genuine movement of pro-lifers who really want to end abortion versus the plethora of national “non-profit” organizations whose self-existence is their paramount concern. We refer to the latter as the “pro-life industry.” It’s a business. Lobbying members of Congress is what they do. They’re comfortable in their D.C. offices and have no real intention of ending abortion. Roe v. Wade was the best thing that ever happened for them.
The commericalization of important causes is certainly nothing new and it’s definitely not unique to the pro-life movement. Campaigning for a cause, no matter how righteous or just, can be exploited by people for financial or political gain. Add to this the nationalization of the abortion issue itself and this is precisely why abortion is still a state-sanctioned practice in America almost 40 years after Roe v. Wade. Yet this failed strategy continues to be the default position of most pr0-lifers who keep waiting (perhaps in vain) for a pro-life majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the proverbial brass ring which they always reach for but never grasp.
Before we can even address issues in civil government, we must confront the painful reality that the church has failed miserably in leading on this issue. Why haven’t congregations exercised church discipline against elected officials (who are church members) who promote abortion? Why hasn’t the church as a whole spoken out against contraceptive methods which can work as abortifacients? Why isn’t the sanctity of life and its protection not stressed in so many pulpits? No change will happen at any level of government until there is a culture which will support it. This explains the recent embarrassing failure in Mississippi to give unborn children legal personhood.
The “states’ rights” approach has been ridiculed by many within the pro-life community who see this as compromise. Yet it is at the state level where most of the successes have been achieved. While the people of Mississippi aren’t as pro-life as we would like, there’s something to be said for the fact that there is only one abortion clinic operating in the state today. In my humble opinion, state and local efforts are the only effective way of ending abortion. A general revival of federalism in recent years gives hope to the idea that more states may openly resist the Federal courts on the abortion issue. We can only pray for such courage at the local level.
Next year, our family will indeed march on behalf of the pro-life cause. But we’ll do it in Richmond instead of Washington. After four decades, it’s clear that the Beltway elites will do nothing to end this holocaust. They’re content to produce mere rhetoric and only minimal effort. We’re often reminded to pray for our leaders in D.C., but let us remember as well to pray for our state/local leaders. To put a spin on a popular slogan, we ought to pray globally and act locally.