It’s a question posed recently on the Faithful Politics Blog with some good answers: more adoptions, pregnancy crisis centers, integrate the role of children into worship services (as an aside a good case for Evangelical Anglicanism), moving beyond the labels. I can certainly affirm all of those, and I would add a few more.
Reshape The Imagery of the Pro-Life Movement
What really grabs the heart is a new life. The moment and joy of birth should be a focal point of the pro-life movement. The notion of joy and doing right by your kids by bringing them into the world and images of what life will be like with them (first day of school, ridding their bikes, a first birthday) that should be part of what is connected with choosing life. Let’s celebrate the joy of birth and a new born child.
Do a simple search for the word pro-life in google images and you will notice more often than not that you get the classic 1970s shot of the child in the womb and a host of images on what abortions actually looks like. The 1970s shot needs to be updated, especially to humanize what we’re seeing (the child in the womb). A lot of 3-D images now available during pregnancy are more compelling than the back lit photo.
The second is the use of horrific imagery. I don’t really want to link to it, so do the search and you’ll see it. It automatically will make you uncomfortable, and unfortunately too many people know that the images are uncomfortable and when people see or are about to see uncomfortable imagery they tend to tune it out. That’s part of the appeal of the pro-choice side. You don’t really have to see the end result. So it leaves people in that zone of blissful non-engagement. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for strong imagery, but honestly it would be better to have a doctor explain what is done in an abortion, even going so far as to show when and how the tools will be used in performing an abortion.
Retool the Movement from Partisan to Issue Based
Too many Americans feel that the pro-life message is simply a partisan tool to elect conservative candidates to office. If we are going to end abortion in America or even significantly reduce abortions in America (which stands at 1.2 million a year) there will need to be a non-partisan moral movement. A movement that aggressively supports any candidate who is pro-life.
The pro-life movement ought to put energy into pressuring the Democratic Party to respect a pro-life caucus in their midst. Will those on the left ever move from being predominantly pro-choice? Who knows, but with significant support from pro-life citizens and the movement at large there could be a growing number of Democrats who support pro-life positions and are electable across the board.
The idea is not to diminish the GOP, but to move the pro-life movement away from partisanship and towards sensible and effective issue based coalition building. The sort of coalition building that is needed for major change. Pro-lifers should not be a constituent of just one party, but of any candidate and movement that pro-actively supports and champions Life. At the very least, even if the efforts fail, we will be able to more effectively make the case that this isn’t about politics, but about basic morality, right and wrong, ideas that transcend boundaries and political parties.
Support Proven Ideas that Save and Celebrate Life
Investing in pregnancy crisis shelters and in Life friendly doctors and medical facilities is a must. From recruiting and supporting counselors, from engaging and equipping youth pastors, to congregations openly investing in domestic adoption, the pro-life movement should be actively engaged in local on the ground efforts. We should be willing and able to hear the worries of a mother who may not be able to support a child. We should and need to hear of those who are abused.
Above all the church, pro-life citizens, and anyone who supports the movement need to exemplify the compassion and love that transforms politics and culture. While this cultural fight plays out in politics, politics can not be the focal point for the movement. Compassion and local action have to be the twin pillars to transform culture and open hearts and minds. We need not be politically successful to make a difference in the lives of thousands of others.
The movement is not just about ending abortion, it’s about ending the fear and circumstances that lead to abortions in America. Women feeling like their trapped, the fears that come from lack of real or perceived support, young adults not understanding the weight of their choices, holding men accountable to their responsibilities and obligations to the child, and exposing the sort of narcissism that puts career above the responsibility of both partners to facilitate and protect life in the world.