In First Corinthians 9:22, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
These words refer to the great apostle’s efforts to win both Jews and Gentiles to belief in Jesus Christ, but they can also apply to the “pro-life” movement that sprang up in America in the aftermath of the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of January 1973. Since that time, it is estimated that America has lost about 60 million human beings to the grisly practice of abortion.
On the other hand, the pro-life movement has saved millions of lives during that same time period. This movement has used persuasion along with various laws restricting abortion in every way that they possibly can. Today, more than 75 percent of Americans support further restriction on legal abortion, largely as a result of the persistence of the pro-life movement.
In an article at Life News.com, published on Monday, Catherine Glenn Foster proclaimed, “This increasingly life-affirming mentality has helped bring America’s abortion rate to historic lows — the lowest rate since Roe v. Wade.”
The momentum is apparently on the side of the pro-lifers. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute lamented last year that over 30 percent of these laws have been passed in just the last six years — more than 50 since 2011.
Foster offers the example of an Alabama law that allows healthcare providers to follow their consciences — they can refuse to perform abortions. Wyoming has enacted a law requiring abortionists to allow mothers see their babies on ultrasound. While Roe v. Wade essentially declared abortion legal throughout the entire term of pregnancy, states are picking away at that gruesome standard. Iowa and Kentucky recently passed laws banning abortions after five months of pregnancy (making it 21 states that have done so). Ohio recently banned abortions of otherwise healthy babies who happened to be diagnosed with Down syndrome.
President Donald Trump reinstated and expanded the “Mexico City Policy,” which withholds funding from foreign governments and international organizations that perform, counsel, or lobby for abortion. Perhaps the most important pro-life action taken by Trump, however, was the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, another step on the path to the ultimate reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Although constitutionalists rightly argue that Roe v. Wade was unconstitutional (Justice Byron White, one of the two dissenters in the 7-2 decision, even called the ruling “an exercise in raw judicial power”), the fact of the matter is, there is much that pro-lifers can do — and that they should do — to save the lives of unborn babies until that decision is reversed.
The pro-life movement has saved lives — millions of lives.
Foster notes that laws requiring parental involvement have led to a double-digit drop in abortions sought by teens. Perhaps the most significant pro-life law is the Hyde Amendment, which is estimated to have saved more than two million lives. Writing in the Washington Times in 2016, Chris Smith explained its positive impact. “This annual appropriations amendment stops taxpayer dollars from being used to fund most abortions and abortion coverage through government programs like Medicaid.”
Smith wrote that he remembered the day years ago when the bill’s author, the late Congressman Henry Hyde, “first learned that about one million children were alive because of his amendment. He was overcome with joy.”
But the Hyde Amendment is not the only life-saving accomplishment of the pro-life movement. Writing in Sage Journals in 2011, Michael New stressed the importance of chipping away at Roe in the federal courts, citing Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, a Supreme Court ruling of 1992. Many of the informed consent laws, and other types of anti-abortion legislation, were upheld as “constitutional” in that decision. “State-level anti-abortion legislation result(s) in statistically significant declines in both the abortion rate and the abortion ratio. Furthermore, a series of natural experiments provide further evidence that abortion restrictions are correlated with reductions in the incidence of abortion.”
Despite these successes of the pro-life movement, there are detractors, including anti-abortionists who call themselves “abolitionists.” These abolitionists contend that the pro-life movement “has been one of gradualistic means and measures, incremental legislation, ameliorative programs, and the inclusion of exceptions to abortion along the way to its eventual total abolition.” They reject “the notion” that one can “commit evil in order that good may come.” Their position is that all of these many pro-life bills that have saved lives have also allowed other abortions to take place.
Clinton Wilcox, a pro-lifer, responded to this argument in 2013. To the “abolitionist” claim that pro-lifers prefer gradual, rather than immediate, abolition, Wilcox said this was “simply a straw man argument of what many pro-life people believe.… Pro-life advocates actually do prefer immediate abolition.” He notes that slavery abolitionist William Wilberforce “worked incrementally; voting for legislation that kept slavery legal yet made conditions safer for slaves. He knew that the way his culture was, he couldn’t pass all or nothing laws. He worked to change the culture’s perception of slavery while working to pass incrementally better legislation until he was finally able to abolish it altogether.”
This has been the strategy of the pro-life movement, as well. Millions are alive today because of that strategy.
The argument that one should not save some unborn until all unborn can be saved is akin to saying that Schindler should not have even bothered with a list, unless he could have saved all the Jews from the National Socialist tyranny under Adolf Hitler.
Hopefully the day will come when the scourge of abortion is illegal across the nation. Until then, the pro-life movement will continue to save millions who otherwise would have been aborted.