A Newsweek piece commented, "The election of a pro-choice administration and a Democratic Congress has divided the pro-life movement, between those who are preparing for the fight of their lives and those who see the opportunity to redefine what it means to be pro-life." I disagree with Newsweek, a periodical which demonstrates again and again that they wouldn't recognize evangelicals if we all scrunched together for a cover story photo. The pro-life movement is not divided. We are as unified as ever to protecting the lives of the unborn. However, many people--including myself--have been accepting a broader definition of what it means to be pro-life.
For many evangelicals, the term pro-life extends beyond anti-abortionism, though it certainly includes it. It means we must fight against the global death occurring in massive numbers all across the globe. It is the ultimate hypocrisy to advocate for the protection of unborn babies, but turn a blind eye to the millions who die from water-related diseases, malaria, hunger and other preventable maladies.
Where Newsweek gets it right is that "to legions of pro-life activists, even the use of the word 'reduction' instead of elimination borders on heresy." That is perhaps the greatest potential division in the entire pro-life movement. This mindset is typified in the words of Russell Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who, in this month's Christianity Today, said that joining with pro-choice groups on abortion reduction is "akin to civil rights activists joining hands with pro-lynching vigilantes in ... early 20th century America to 'reduce the number of lynchings' through better funding of segregated African-American school systems."
On one hand, Moore makes a solid point. On the other, I am not sure that inflammatory rhetoric goes a long way toward solving a very real policy problem. There is no significant division within the pro-life movement, yet many of us have decided to speak and advocate in what may be more constructive ways. I have worked with others to promote common ground policies that can reduce abortions in America and will continue to do so.
We are making progress. As Christianity Today notes, "More states are passing legislation that works to reduce abortion. Fewer Americans now support abortion on demand. America's youth are increasingly pro-life. Crisis pregnancy centers are full of volunteers. Planned Parenthood is under more scrutiny thea it has been in decades. And the abortion rate is really decreasing. It's now the lowest level since 1974." Now we simply need the Obama administration to begin making good on their promise to enact federal legislation to support this trend.
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have been speaking about the shifting abortion debate for some time. I will continue to bring you developments on this important trend as they happen.