The Abortion War’s Next Battlefront: Building a Culture of Life

 

When the Supreme Court overturned the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision on June 24, it didn’t “settle” the issue of abortion in America. SCOTUS moved the battleground from the courts – where the issue never belonged, and most people don’t want it – to their elected representatives. SCOTUS held that they didn’t have the authority to make policy on abortion – just who should make it.

Annual “March for Life” protester in Washington, DC (Reuters photo, via National Review magazine)

But other consequences are emerging as well. First, reasonable people – not the ones yelling “shout your abortion!” – are thinking and talking with each other. And as they do, they’re confronting the fundamental question – is it a child? And if it is – the science is undeniable, unless you believe the evolutionary theory of punctuated equilibrium – then what is the government’s role in protecting innocent human life?

Supporters of abortion attempt to distract us with shiny objects, including accusations that pro-life conservatives want to deny access to contraceptives or ban same-sex or interracial marriage. Their hysteria knows no limits. And in many states, like California and New York, among others, the Dobbs decision hasn’t changed a thing. Fifty-six companies have promised to help their employees travel to states where they can get an abortion. One company, admirably, has chosen a different course. Most Americans instinctively know that.

The other consequence is the pro-life community’s embrace of the next “battlefront,” or mission field, if you prefer – building a culture of life.

Good work has begun. Not just among long-time pro-life activists but government officials, including Mississippi. The Magnolia State was home to Dobbs v. Jackson, the Supreme Court case that overturned Roe. Salem Radio Network host Hugh Hewitt recently interviewed Governor Tate Reeves (R):

“…we have to make sure that we are building an infrastructure wherein we can provide the resources that they need. And that’s one of the thing that I’m most proud of that Mississippi has done in our effort to create that culture of life. We passed, I believe, the first law in the nation in which we provide tax credits now for any individual who makes a contribution to a pregnancy resource center. You see in Mississippi we have 37 pregnancy resource centers situation in every single region of our state. Those pregnancy resource centers have mostly volunteers, but also some have paid employees whose sole responsibility is if you are, find yourself in a perhaps unwanted pregnancy, or you find yourself pregnant and at a loss for exactly what to do, they have counselors that help you, help walk you through the process and help try to find and make sure that you have the resources that you need.

“As you know, Hugh, government certainly needs to step up, but my view is the government is really not particularly good at doing things like that. That’s why we have these private non-profits that have caring people. And my message to women that find themselves in that position, because I know it can be very difficult, but my message to those individuals is you know what? There are people who love you. There are people who love that mom. There are people in this state and across this country who love that unborn baby. And it’s our responsibility as a faith community to step up and be there for those individuals in their difficult times of need.”

Arguably the nation’s leading pro-life intellectual leader is Princeton Professor Robert George. He was recently interviewed by American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholars Marc Thiessen and Danielle Pletka.

Perhaps to the chagrin of many in the pro-life movement, Professor George suggests moving incrementally, respecting and moving public opinion.

“So I’d like to move incrementally. In states where we can get strong protections for the unborn, let’s do that. In states where we can’t get strong protections for the unborn, let’s get what protections we can for now. Not cut off our noses to spite our faces. Get what we can for now, and then continue to do the education that will enable us to bring the public on. Lincoln said, I’ve been quoting Lincoln a lot lately. Not only his malice toward non-charity for all, but also his famous line that in the United States, public opinion is everything. With it, you can’t lose. Without it, you can’t win. So we have a sense of where the public is. The public is with Dany for the most part on this, sort of somewhere in the middle. They don’t want unlimited abortion. They don’t want the Democrat’s extremism, but they aren’t with you or me going all the way to full protection for the unborn.”

This may frustrate many pro-life activists, but Professor George is a wise and prudent man. Politically and often arrogantly, being in a hurry rarely works out well in the long run. The real wisdom of George’s incrementalism is an inherent humility and respect for the views of others, attributes rarely found among so-called progressives. Famous actor, former London mayoral candidate, and head of Britain’s Reclaim Party, Laurence Fox, says, “You don’t win politics by moving to the middle. You win by moving the middle toward you.” Pro-lifers mustn’t be guilty of the bullying tactics used by the Left to impose their agenda on us.

Long-time pro-life and pro-family champion, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Building a culture of life as outlined by George – “a nation that cares for all its children – at every stage – and for their mothers and families” is not new to pro-life policymakers. Former US Senator and two-time presidential candidate Rick Santorum, author of It Takes a Family, has long courageously advocated for conservative “paid family leave.” Not the federal mandate on business championed by Democrats 30 years ago, but a creative solution that allows caregivers to borrow from their future Social Security benefits, or in the case of legislation proposed by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), front load Child Tax Credits upon the birth or adoption of a child. No mandate, just allowing parents to borrow from benefits already promised to them. Santorum expressed his views in this National Review post from 2018:

When the last national family-leave policy, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), was debated in 1993, I opposed the law’s mandate on employers and its inability to cover the typical American worker who cannot afford to take unpaid leave to care for a loved one. But a lot has changed since then.

Today’s working families face new realities and struggles. Nearly 70 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 are working, and millions of homes are headed by single mothers juggling care for their families while trying to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the cost of child care has grown out of proportion to the growth in other household costs; in 33 states the cost of child care exceeds the cost of in-state college tuition and fees.

Santorum’s former chief of staff and friend Mark Rodgers, now cofounder of The Clapham Group and Kiki Bradley, has prolifically proposed a “Marshall Plan” that implements Professor George’s vision. Their ideas include support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bipartisan bill to prevent discrimination against pregnant women or for pregnancy-related issues. Also, keep Bush-era regulations in place for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that treats the unborn as a child, thus allowing states to provide health care as needed for pregnant mothers. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) has proposed remaking child tax credits to benefit expectant mothers and preborn children for eligibility.

Rodgers and Bradley also propose ideas to support children and families after birth, especially for lower-income families. They also support responsible paid family leave legislation.

There are other important issues, including fixing some state child support programs. An estimated 20 percent of children are recipients of child support. Billions of dollars in support are in arrears. That needs fixing. “Among the most notable points is the whopping amount of arrears that noncustodial parents in Virginia owe – and the fact that annual arrearages have gone essentially unchanged since at least 2013. The cumulative total was $3.15 billion at the end of the most recent federal fiscal year; the amount has accumulated for decades,” wrote Roger Chesley for the Virginia Mercury.

Another problem is our foster care system. Axios: “About 424,000 children in foster care on any given day already face shortages of placements, low high school graduation rates, and disproportionately high rates of incarceration and homelessness. Without new funding and accountability, these problems may only get worse.”

Conversely, as brilliantly written about by Carter Snead and Mary Ann Glendon, “…there are an estimated 2 million American couples waiting to adopt children and only 18,000 babies born in the United States voluntarily placed for adoption per year. There is also a strong desire to welcome babies into adoptive families from foster care, should efforts at reunification with biological parents prove impossible. In a post-Roe world, we must find ways to make it easier for women who cannot or do not wish to parent to make the courageous choice to place their sons and daughters with loving adoptive families.”

These issues seem daunting, but they’re worth the time and effort to fix. People of goodwill on both sides of this debate already agree with some of these proposals. And they all move us in the welcome direction of a culture of life while helping preserve, protect, and promote families.

It’s time for the pro-life community to step up and lead the way with their time and talents, both at the state and federal levels. States should primarily focus on addressing support for pregnant women and families as they are on limiting abortions.

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  1. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Great essay with some truly excellent links.  The pro-aborts are making a lot of noise about “forcing women to bear and raise children they don’t want” and all the harm that supposedly does to the unwanted children.  They quite conveniently forget adoption and the crying need these murdered babies could fill.  We need much more messaging about and celebration of adoption and the quiet and amazingly unselfish courage involved in turning a mistake into someone else’s joy.  The support for pregnant women you speak of should, of course, include for those who plan to give up their babies after they’re born.  Prenatal care and good nutrition are truly an investment worth making.  We also shouldn’t count on the government to do it, but rather have it come from charitable and voluntary organizations more capable of nurturing the women and their babies through the process of pregnancy, birth, and, if necessary, adoption.  

    And while we’re at it, we should ask the pro-abort crowd why we have crisis pregnancy centers to support women and they can’t put together meager bus fare to transport a woman to a pro-abort state.  We should also call them on the lies about how many women died from illegal abortions (the numbers were heavily inflated, according to one of the early abortion legality proponents who later turned away from the cause, but I can’t find the truth in the mass of propaganda).  Also, while we’re calling them out, we need to underline the incredibly small number of pregnancies that are attributed to rape and incest, as well as those threatening the life of the mother.

    • #1
  2. Kelly D Johnston Coolidge
    Kelly D Johnston
    @SoupGuy

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Great essay with some truly excellent links. The pro-aborts are making a lot of noise about “forcing women to bear and raise children they don’t want” and all the harm that supposedly does to the unwanted children. They quite conveniently forget adoption and the crying need these murdered babies could fill. We need much more messaging about and celebration of adoption and the quiet and amazingly unselfish courage involved in turning a mistake into someone else’s joy. The support for pregnant women you speak of should, of course, include for those who plan to give up their babies after they’re born. Prenatal care and good nutrition are truly an investment worth making. We also shouldn’t count on the government to do it, but rather have it come from charitable and voluntary organizations more capable of nurturing the women and their babies through the process of pregnancy, birth, and, if necessary, adoption.

    And while we’re at it, we should ask the pro-abort crowd why we have crisis pregnancy centers to support women and they can’t put together meager bus fare to transport a woman to a pro-abort state. We should also call them on the lies about how many women died from illegal abortions (the numbers were heavily inflated, according to one of the early abortion legality proponents who later turned away from the cause, but I can’t find the truth in the mass of propaganda). Also, while we’re calling them out, we need to underline the incredibly small number of pregnancies that are attributed to rape and incest, as well as those threatening the life of the mother.

    Thank you. Well said.

     

    • #2
  3. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Kelly D Johnston (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Great essay with some truly excellent links. The pro-aborts are making a lot of noise about “forcing women to bear and raise children they don’t want” and all the harm that supposedly does to the unwanted children. They quite conveniently forget adoption and the crying need these murdered babies could fill. We need much more messaging about and celebration of adoption and the quiet and amazingly unselfish courage involved in turning a mistake into someone else’s joy. The support for pregnant women you speak of should, of course, include for those who plan to give up their babies after they’re born. Prenatal care and good nutrition are truly an investment worth making. We also shouldn’t count on the government to do it, but rather have it come from charitable and voluntary organizations more capable of nurturing the women and their babies through the process of pregnancy, birth, and, if necessary, adoption.

    And while we’re at it, we should ask the pro-abort crowd why we have crisis pregnancy centers to support women and they can’t put together meager bus fare to transport a woman to a pro-abort state. We should also call them on the lies about how many women died from illegal abortions (the numbers were heavily inflated, according to one of the early abortion legality proponents who later turned away from the cause, but I can’t find the truth in the mass of propaganda). Also, while we’re calling them out, we need to underline the incredibly small number of pregnancies that are attributed to rape and incest, as well as those threatening the life of the mother.

    Thank you. Well said.

     

    I have taken to calling them “anti-lifers” recently. 

    • #3
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