Let’s start with a fair portrayal of an alluring, albeit radical, position taken by some within the pro-life movement. The following real conversation actually happened recently on social media:
A friend posted a reasonable comment about the fact that the US Supreme Court panel in 1973, which handed down the Roe v. Wade opinion (in a 7-2 decision) had several justices who had been appointed by Republican presidents. Underneath his post, came this:
Now, a quick word about why I’m continuing my response here, instead of there, and who I’m trying to convince with this post (hint: it’s not the radical guy arguing with me on my friend’s wall).
First, any comment you make (on social media or anywhere else) that someone else has the power to delete, is one you may well see disappear, because it means you’re playing on someone else’s turf, not your own. The above conversation was under my friend’s SCOTUS post (which means he could delete my replies, though I doubt he would), and it was also under the radical person’s comment, and he’s more likely to delete my comments if either he thinks I’ve trounced his argument or he gets tired of me replying (i.e. continual one-ups in a battle over who has the last word).
Second, in any controversial issue, there will be a bell curve, in which one extreme consists of the few on the right side that agree with you and could never be convinced otherwise, and the other extreme consists of the few on the wrong side that disagree with you and could never be convinced otherwise, and the cherry, so to speak, is the huge group in the middle of the bell curve, who are open to reason/persuasion, and could potentially be convinced either way. The radical guy (arguing in the screenshot above) is clearly beyond the reach of my reasoning. Why do I say this? He’s already found what he thinks is a solid argument, and long before he ever encountered me, he had already made his argument so often that he’s what we might call “doubled down” on it, such that he’s personally vested in its validity. For him to ever hear reason and turn back now, would be, according to his words (not mine), “silly,” and committing a “sin” of adopting a position with those who “do not care” about aborted babies. His mind is already made up, don’t bother him with facts. Can someone turn back? Yes, but it’s rare. A Saul who becomes a Paul is powerful, but very scarce.
Why the radicals are wrong
If you were able to read all the way through his replies, you saw the comparison to the Holocaust against the Jews, and you hopefully felt the weight of the radical argument. You sense the allure of it, yet something does not quite sit right. I hope to help you put your finger on exactly why the argument does not sit right.
Since he already pointed to the Holocaust against the Jews in a comparison to the Abortion Holocaust of pre-born humans, please allow me to argue from that comparison, despite both Holocausts being a nightmare of grim historical reality.
The radical approach above is a straw-man argument because it presupposes that the Allies’ war against the Axis powers—the fight from without, if you will—was the only kind of war that could be waged, and furthermore, in his argument, the radical guy actually claims that was the only kind of fight that was waged! When I read the lunacy of statements such as “Abortion is legal because we do not care, just like the Germans did not care if the Jews were being murdered,” it makes me want to say, “Did you never hear of Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Have you never read of the heroes, some Christian, some Islamic, some German, who risked their lives trying to save what few Jewish lives they could, from within the Nazi system?” It would do the radical guy some good to read/watch Schindler’s List, about Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German businessman, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. Far be it from me to point out the history, since it’s only a click away from anyone on social media.
So, imagine with me, if you will, that war can be waged on two fronts simultaneously, one working under the best strategy possible for how to abolish abortion (in WW2 parlance, defeat the Axis powers), i.e. a full frontal assault, but not one devoid of strategy, and another to undermine from within the reality of the existing system, using whatever means, regulation laws, acts to defund, prayer walks, sidewalk vigils, life chains, counseling centers, ad campaigns and social media memes, etc. (in WW2 parlance, subvert and resist the Axis powers). The radical approach claims the latter of those two is evil, because it somehow legitimizes the system, since it’s not the full frontal assault happening from without and because a lot of people are still dying. That’s just wrongheaded.
Just as the radical guy was wrong to pretend that no one in Germany cared, that none under the boot of the Nazis was working to subvert the forces of evil, and wrong to ignore the precious lives their work saved, by focusing his argument solely on the ongoing death around them as proof of their failure, so also the radical argument is simply fallacious to claim that no lives have been saved during the past 43 years of the pro-life movement fighting against the scourge of abortion. How can he ignore the evidence of some 11,000 lives saved because of the ban on partial birth abortions? Who is he getting his information from, the pro-aborts?
There is an old saying that “you only have one chance to make a good first impression.” Well, all those on the pro-life side in the current culture war should be aware that any given legal argument only has one chance for the Supreme Court’s “first glimpse” at the argument. That first glimpse, if the case gets taken up by the court and an opinion handed down, will result in a precedent being set. Contrary to what some people think, the worldview of a Supreme Court justice matters! Put simply, we need to have a pro-life Supreme Court empaneled before we have a case to abolish abortion come before them, or the case will just see the effort overturned.
Contrary to the radical’s argument, we are winning.
When I told the radical we are winning the culture war, that we’re succeeding in changing the hearts and minds of society, he expressed a state of denial and responded saying that is “so so not true.” Again, the facts contradict his argument. Just Google “millennials are more likely to be prolife” and you will get this:
Jun 30, 2016 – The survey found 53 percent of millennials believe abortion should be … to 48 percent who said they were more likely to identify as “pro–choice.
Jun 30, 2016 – Majority of millennials support tougher abortion restrictions, but … with 48 percent who said they were more likely to identify as pro–choice.
Mar 4, 2016 – Millennials lean more pro–life than the generation preceding them because of advances in medical technology and science, leaders in …
Jul 11, 2016 – … People More Pro–Life Than Ever Before as Millennials Oppose Abortion. … are less likely than their older counterparts to identify as “pro–life.
Feb 8, 2016 – The study shows the decline is nearly equal in both the most pro–life and pro–choice states. The decline in the least pro–life states: Vermont …
Jan 12, 2016 – Millennials across the United States are more likely to identify as … The only most pro–life state on the list to see a rise in abortions is Louisiana.
Jan 14, 2016 – Although Americans are split down the middle on whether they identify as pro–life or pro–choice, abortion is viewed as less acceptable than it …
Jul 1, 2016 – Survey: Millennials oppose abortion, yet reject pro–life title … 48 percent of millennials said they were more likely to identify as “pro–choice.”
So, while I declined to try to battle for the last word in a futile argument with a radical, let me conclude with the last comment I made before breaking off with him:
It will take a lot of time and hard work to win over the culture by changing hearts and minds. We have the truth and all the science on our side. We’re winning. We’re on the same side. If we can avoid maligning each other, we will see victory.
Join me as part of the Pro-Life Generation that will see abortion ended within our lifetime. We’re in this for the long haul. We’re in this to save as many lives as we can along the way. If regulation spares even one life, it will have been wise and right. It has spared many lives. The thousands of babies who have been spared from death, even during the sad reign of “Planned Parenthood” funding and “Roe v Wade” opinions, declare that we are on the side of righteousness.