The current state of the pro-life movement
It would be easy for pro-lifers to give up right now. We have arguably the most pro-abortion president in our country’s history, and pro-lifers are outnumbered in both the U.S. House and Senate. There are some glaring problems on our side, too—like the absence of a clear leader to carry the torch and confusion over how to move forward.
On the federal side, President Obama is threatening to pass and sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would effectively overturn every state and federal law restricting abortion. There’s also great concern about the hotly-debated health care reform bill being rushed through Congress and how it could very well include taxpayer-funded abortions. The Hyde Amendment is supposed to prevent such a travesty, but this hasn’t stopped liberals (e.g. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD) from offering a pro-abortion amendment to the health care bill. All pro-life amendments introduced in both the House and Senate so far have been defeated.
Furthermore, the chances of a pro-life justice landing on the U.S. Supreme Court have slipped away, at least this time around. With a liberal president you usually get an activist judge—and Sonia Sotomayor fits that description. She also has a mixed record on life issues, and said that Roe v. Wade was ‘settled law’ during her second day of Senate hearings. Though Sotomayor said that all precedents are “subject to the possibility of subsequent reversal,” she never got specific about the possibility of overturning Roe (LifeNews.com, 7/14/09). If the opportunity to reexamine Roe ever comes up, there’s little doubt Sotomayor will support keeping things the way they are.
However, despite being pushed to the near-political wilderness in Washington, the pro-life movement is far from finished.
Last November, a group called Colorado for Equal Rights gathered enough signatures to get a Personhood Amendment on the general election ballot. This amendment to Colorado’s constitution would have included “pre-born from the moment of fertilization as having their ‘personhood’ clearly established, so that they may enjoy equal protection under the law” (http://coloradoforequalrights.com). Though citizens voted it down by a margin of 3-to-1 (The Denver Post, 11/05/08), it was a significant first step in abolishing abortion at a state level.
A few states—most notably North Dakota—had personhood amendments sponsored in their state legislatures. North Dakota’s was called The Personhood of Children Act (HB 1572), and it was sponsored by Rep. Dan Ruby (http://www.personhoodnorthdakota.com). HB 1572 was passed by the House, but unfortunately met defeat in the Senate with a vote of 29-16 (Dakota Voice, 4/05/09). Other states that have considered personhood amendments in their state legislatures include Maryland, Montana, South Carolina, and Alabama. It’s important to note that if such a ‘radical’ proposal can be considered in a liberal state like Maryland, then there’s no reason why the same thing can’t be tried nationwide.
But some questions still need to be answered: Will the Personhood Movement keep its momentum? Are there other pro-life alternatives worth trying? Can we expect to see a clear leader in the pro-life movement anytime soon? All these questions, including a broader conversation about the future of the cause—which I believe to be quite hopeful— will be discussed tomorrow.