Why the pro-life movement needs to rethink its strategies

If, as the leak of Judge Alito’s preliminary opinion in the Dobbs v Jackson case suggests and Casey [versus Planned Parenthood; que confirmou o veredicto de Roe], neither was nor could it be a mere reform of our legal regime. The aim is, and always must be, the creation of a social, political, economic and legal order in which all human life is, as Richard John Neuhaus used to say, “protected by law and welcome to life”. Achieving this goal will be very difficult, more difficult than “merely” reversing unfair legal decisions.

Obviously, what a decision by Dobbs overruling Roe and Casey will do in practical terms. is largely to return the abortion issue to state legislatures. Of course, there will be efforts to codify abortion rights guarantees in Congress or to use the executive branch to that end, but the main field of contention will be at the state level. And there, the issue will be primarily “democratic”, in the sense that it will be the democratic majorities and their representatives who will determine the form of the abortion law. This means, in the short term, that some states will impose significant restrictions and others will be downright permissive, often even allocating public funds to subsidize abortion services. Pro-life groups did a good job in the late 2000 and early years 2000, moving public opinion to the pro-life side (helped by abortion advocates’ commitment to protecting extreme and unpopular procedures such as partial abortions).

But if the pro-life movement is to make progress in certain states – such as New York, California and Illinois – where there are strong pro-abortion majorities and large numbers of operations, there is significant work to be done. Two things come to mind in this regard. First, the pro-life movement needs to rebuild itself as a movement that goes beyond partisan divisions. Second, it also needs to intensify its commitment to building a culture in which life is supported and encouraged.

Beyond party divisions

Of course, at this point, the Democratic Party seems deeply committed to extending abortion rights in ways that can only be described as “extremist”. But it’s worth recognizing that this is despite regular Democratic voters, not because of them. It is quite true that the party leadership, as far as I can tell, is out of step with the grassroots, and the pro-life movement must see this as an opportunity. It is, however, a chance to try to reshape the Democratic Party’s leadership, not an opportunity to try to recruit them into a (partially) pro-life Republican party. This may happen in some cases, but the experience of the last fifty years with African-American Christians suggests that relying on party realignment may not be a winning strategy.

Vale It is worth emphasizing here that this racial divide, where African Americans feel alienated from a politically conservative and disproportionately white pro-life movement, is something that must urgently be overcome. Historically, Black Protestants in the United States have seen themselves as pro-life, yet they are largely non-existent in the current movement and are apparently not effective in moving the Democratic Party’s positions on abortion, even if they are crucial to political success. democrat. A country where black Christians are able to exert their influence within the Democratic Party on matters of life is one where we can make real progress, even in places that currently seem almost hopeless.

But there is another problem here. To the extent that Dobbs does in fact overturn Roe and Casey, pro-lifers will claim – with good reason – that they succeeded because they joined the Republican Party and, at least as far as the major national anti-abortion organizations are concerned, especially Donald Trump. . While it’s true that almost any Republican president would have nominated judges like Gorsuch and Barrett, Trump’s intransigence in supporting his nominees has proven to be of real value. It’s easy to dismiss the “But he fights!” mantra common among pro-Trump folks, but it’s also hard to see George W. Bush willing to put up with the same criticisms, as evidenced by the time of his withdrawal from the Harriet Miers nomination.

However, considering that the anti-abortion movement must be especially attentive to winning democratic majorities to advance its goals, it cannot simply be a member of the Republican Party. It will likely find a more natural home in the more conservative party in the near future, especially because of sexuality and gender issues, but in broadening its base beyond these partisan divisions, it must be willing to listen and perhaps embrace positions that run into conflict. with what are considered conservative political orthodoxies.

What I mean is that if the pro-life movement is genuinely committed to defending a social, political and In an economic environment where both the law and culture make abortion increasingly rare, he must listen to those outside conservative politics, perhaps especially African Americans. And listening to them, the movement will surely hear that getting to that place means more than just changing the laws and sitting back, or advocating for changes in our sexual culture. (Although it doesn’t mean less, to be clear.)

It means doing more to relieve parents of the challenges that make abortion an attractive choice; it means, as Matthew Loftus said, making it easier for people to do the right thing. It is wrong to say that abortion in the US is just a consequence of poverty or inequality; there are many places with lower scores on both counts, but with abortion rates equivalent to or higher than those with higher incomes. On the other hand, it is also wrong to deny that our levels of poverty and inequality contribute to abortion, and if the pro-life movement is to win victories in places dominated by progressive politics, it will need to take seriously the demands offered by its potential allies.

Supporting a culture of life

But that’s not all. Majority opinion in Casey suggested that one reason the judges were reluctant to overrule Roe was how much women, in particular, had come to rely on access to abortion to make their life plans. We can – and should – deeply regret the idea that many women feel that their career success depends on their freedom to end the lives of their unborn children. This sentiment is sufficiently prevalent that a pro-life movement committed to democratic political success needs to think about it in depth, and then act to help make it much less pervasive.

Helping to make abortion increasingly rare means figuring out how to encourage marriage where it seems to be disappearing and supporting efforts to make it easier for mothers (and fathers!) to better balance family, community and careers. This can include things like public child rearing subsidies, making our tax system biased towards benefiting couples, and making it easier to build housing that young families can afford. There are, I’m sure, no simple answers here, but to the extent that public policy can help make marriage more plausible, while at the same time dispelling the feeling among some people that children are an impediment to everything else, we must work in this direction, even if it means conflicting with what has been, until recently, part of the list of conservative orthodoxies.

The current abortion regime in the United States States is profoundly unfair, as it allows (and in some cases publicly funds) the destruction of innocent human life. This injustice, however, is intertwined with much of contemporary social, political and economic life, and it is an injustice whose results many of our fellow citizens deeply value. Therefore, it will not be enough to just win legal battles or even just win electoral victories in some states. If the goal is to make abortion increasingly rare through law and culture, pro-lifers will need to seriously rethink their approaches. Otherwise, it is quite possible that a legal victory in Dobbs could become a classic Pyrrhic victory [N/T: expressão que indica uma vitória a alto custo, com danos superiores aos ganhos], dethroning Roe but leaving in his place or even strengthening the control of abortion in our culture for another half century. .

© 2000 Public Discourse. Published with permission. Original in English.

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