Part One of Three
Editor's note. I'd appreciate
hearing from you at
I wish to thank all of you who
wrote in response to our three-part tribute to
pro-life champion Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, who
died yesterday. As promised, there is more to
say about the author of many books and the
editor in chief of the prestigious magazine,
"First Things" in Part Two. In addition Part
Three is the speech Fr. Neuhaus delivered at the
July 2008 NRLC national convention.
As I first listened to and
then later re-read Fr. Neuhaus' remarks, the
rhetorical chord that rang out to me was, "We
shall not weary, we shall not rest." A student
of politics, he understood that electoral
victories inevitably are followed by defeats.
It's what you do with the ebbs and flows that
matters. (This speech was delivered, of course,
before the setbacks in the October election.)
You can get discouraged, as a
piece that appears yesterday on the
Christianitytoday.com website does. Or you draw
strength and calm assurance from Neuhaus'
long-view approach: "The pro-life movement that
began in the 20th century laid the foundation
for the pro-life movement of the 21st century,"
adding, "We have been at this a long time, and
we are just getting started."
The headline of the CT piece
is "Battle Fatigue," and the subhead is,
"Abortion opponents head into Obama presidency
after big losses." The latter is unquestionably
true, the former, in my judgment, is just as
unquestionably false. (Before I go any further I
should note that I have read CT since the 1970s
and have learned a great deal from this
evangelical flagship. But it is flat-out wrong
in this particular instance.)
The article begins by quoting
President-elect Barack Obama's promise to
Planned Parenthood's political arm that the
first thing he'd do as President "is sign the
Freedom of Choice Act." Quite correctly FOCA is
described as a measure that "would remove almost
all state and federal restrictions on abortion."
However, to that the author
adds, "But observers wonder if the anti-abortion
movement has enough life in it to successfully
fight the legislation or similar measures,"
based on Obama's election and pro-life losses in
several state initiatives. That's quite a
statement. Let's start by asking who are the
The first two are a
pro-abortion author who argues there is
"abortion fatigue" among the "populace," and a
sociologist who argues the buzz now is over the
battle to redefine marriage. Not exactly
overwhelmingly weighty. Let me offer a couple of
First, to reiterate, none of
us is naive enough to believe there would ever
be a straight-line progression to victory. We
took a shellacking in the congressional
elections, but we will come back strong just as
we have many times before. And Obama's victory
was greased by concerns over a very dicey
economy, not his full-bore support for abortion,
which he kept under wraps except when joking
around with his buddies at places like PPFA.
Second, the CT story discounts
the fact that young evangelicals are even more
pro-life than their pro-life elders. Why?
Supposedly because they don't "have the same
fire in the belly about the issue that older
evangelicals have had." That is not my
experience, not my experience at all.
and/or Catholic--understand the abortion issue
in a more personal way than many of us who are
older never did. They are, in Derrick Jones's
words, the "Abortion Generation," or the "Roe
Generation"--alive when they could easily have
been aborted. Virtually everyone knows someone
whose life has been devastated by an abortion.
Abortion is not an abstraction to young people.
It is a tragedy visited on many of their friends
Third, the author of the piece
makes this statement: "In 2005, 19.4 per 1,000
women had an abortion, according to the
Guttmacher Institute, but the number--1.2
million in 2005--has stayed relatively the same
since the 1970s."
This is seriously misleading.
What happened, as you well
know, is that abortions skyrocketed after Roe
until they hit 1.5 million in 1980. And they
stayed above 1.5 million throughout the 1980s
and then peaked at 1.6 million in 1990. But that
number has dropped by a quarter since. Why?
Because of the cumulative
efforts of legislation such as parental
involvement, right to know laws, and waiting
periods which began to be put in place in
various states through the 1980s and 1990s; a
broad increase in basic public knowledge about
the unborn as ultrasound and other medial
technologies have proliferated; and the impact
of pregnancy care centers offering alternatives.
It is true that the number of
abortions is about the same as it was in the
early years after Roe. But it is also true, as
was demonstrated visually in a graph that
appears in the January issue of NRL News, had
these rates and ratios not dropped (thanks to
pro-life initiatives), another nine million
babies would have been lost.
But the worse part of the
article, for me, is the ending. Although we
supposedly are "fatigued," and thus probably
unable to fight pro-abortion initiatives in
Congress, we do have a fallback: we can place
our hope in the generosity of….Barack Obama.
Well, thanks but no thanks. As
we have demonstrated a hundred times, Barack
Obama has no more interest in decreasing the
number of abortions than I do in increasing
And in case you didn't order
additional copies of the January issue--"Stop
Obama's Abortion Agenda"--you can call us at
202-626-8828 or go to
Part Two --
"Our Great, Good
Friend is Gone"
Part Three --
“We Shall Not Weary, We Shall Not Rest”