Principles of Pro-Life Action

Author: Fr. Frank Pavone

*************************************************************************** Principles of Pro-Life Action By Fr. Frank A. Pavone National Director, Priests for Life *************************************************************************** The pro-life movement in the United States is strong and highly organized, more so than in the rest of the world. It is vast and complex, comprising a wide variety of activities, organizations and people of all ages and backgrounds. Providing alternatives to abortion, directly intervening to save babies, educating, lobbying, and healing women who have had abortions are among the major activities of the movement. Statistically, for every 50 hours that any one person spends on any kind of pro-life activity, a life is saved.

The pro-life movement can be even more effective if each of us clearly perceives the specific challenges of the present time and embraces the solutions indicated by those challenges, not by what is comfortable or familiar. Several considerations can help advance the cause:

1. There is an urgent need to formally and aggressively recruit people to be involved in pro-life activity. Everything we do, including prayer, requires people committed to doing it. People need to know that there is a place in the movement for everyone, no matter what abilities they may have.

2. There is a need to train the people we recruit. Training programs in pro-life activism are available, and help to counteract the high drop-out rate of activists. Training gives the perspective necessary to work effectively and avoid discouragement. (For training programs contact Priests for Life at 914-937-8243.)

3. Pro-lifers need a long-range plan for bringing an end to baby-killing. This plan should not merely be reactive to what the other side is doing. Rather, it should reflect our goals, pursued in a deliberate and effective manner.

4. The movement needs more full-time professionals to bring their expertise in various fields to bear on the problem of abortion. Support-raising seminars are now available for those who want to work full-time in the pro-life movement but are not sure how to support themselves. (Call the Center for Bioethical Reform at 1-800-959-9775.)

5. Those who fight abortion have a right to focus on abortion, just as AA has a right to focus on alcoholics, or the American Cancer Society on cancer. While we all need to be concerned about every attack on human life, pro-life groups should not be made to feel that their agenda has to encompass every evil under the sun. That would be an imprudent, impractical, and unfair dissipation of energies to the point of not effectively doing much about anything. We need to focus on ending abortion, and not apologize for that focus.

6. It is essential to understand that more and more people who support abortion admit that it is the killing of a baby, but say, "So what? It should still be the woman's choice." The problem here is what we call "relativism." People think they decide what is right and wrong. They think the value of a person depends on how much value they want to give that person.

In response, therefore, the pro-life movement not only needs to educate people about the nature of the baby and of abortion, but about the nature of morality itself. We need to show the danger and absurdity of relativism. 7. Abortion is wrong for everyone, not only for Christians. Pro-lifers need to be able to present their message both in religious terms and in secular terms, with arguments drawn from sources that non-religious people acknowledge. Otherwise, the door is left open for the other side to place the pro-life position exclusively in a "religious belief" category and then consider themselves not bound by it because of "religious freedom." The fact is that abortion can no more be tolerated as a "religious freedom" than stealing can.

8. In moving the public to a firm pro-life position, it is not enough to get them to "be pro-life," that is, to acknowledge that they oppose abortion. They need to be brought to the point where they are willing to persuade others not to obtain abortions. In fact, most Americans already oppose most abortions. But abortion continues because too many people do not want to "impose their morality" on others. This is not merely a question of morality, but of justice. Justice demands not only that we think the right way, but that we actually protect the victim!

9. Abortion is a local phenomenon. While we must continue to petition the government, abortions do not take place in the halls of Congress. They take place down the street. We need to be sure that the attention we give to Washington does not make us forget about our local community. Pro-lifers need to give a local response to abortion by identifying where the killing is happening and who is doing it, protesting at the local abortion mills, and providing concrete, local assistance to women in need. The problem is not so much who is sitting in the White House, but that we are sitting in our house!

10. Abortion is built on a double lie, that:

a) the "fetus" is not a human equal to the rest of us, and that b) abortion helps women.

While continuing to counteract the first lie, we need to increase attention to the second. Abortion hurts women physically and psychologically, and there is more evidence of that now than ever. We need to spread this truth. Many women have hardened their hearts against the child, but are still concerned about their own well-being.

By showing that to be pro-life means to be pro-woman, we counteract the efforts of pro-abortion people to be the "women's rights" advocates. Authentic concern for women demands a pro-life position.

The pro-life message is not "Love the child and forget the women." Nor is there credibility to the pro-abortion message "Love the woman by killing the child." The only sane position, which is the authentic pro-life stance, is "Why can't we love them both?" ***************************************************************************

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