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Sovereignty Is a Life Issue

The struggle for life is the struggle against unaccountable administrators.

Kansas Election
(Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

A Washington, D.C., jury on Tuesday found five pro-life protestors guilty of felony conspiracy against rights and violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act for their protest at an abortion clinic in October 2020, according to a Justice Department press release. The protestors, members of the left-wing Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU) group, will face sentences of up to eleven years in prison, pending appeals. 

The group chose to blockade the practice of Cesare Santangelo in the well-heeled Foggy Bottom neighborhood after an undercover video showed the abortionist suggesting that he would leave the survivors of surgical abortion to die. This is not only monstrous, but also against the law. The PAAU blockade must be regarded, then, as something akin to danda justice—a private party stepping in extralegally to right a wrong the state has declined to pursue.


The law is only as good as its enforcement, and its enforcers. We live in the disco era of prosecution. At the federal level, our brave legal pioneers are busy running interference for the infanticide industry—explicitly—while working hand-in-glove with the state security apparatus to do down anyone posing the threat of accountability from the body politic. At the state level, prosecutors are equally busy chasing political whales. We accept that the law is the law, even if we think it is a bad law that should be changed. Yet why do the PAAU protestors each face more than a decade of prison time while Santangelo sits pretty in his swanky abattoir without so much as a how-do-you-do from law enforcement? 

Following the Dobbs decision, the parameters of the next stage of the fight for life are beginning to come clear. Statewide referenda are proving to be bad vehicles for pro-life measures, while laws passed the usual way through state legislatures are meeting with more success. (This should be unsurprising, given what we know about the relative strength of each team’s get-out-the-vote operations.) The courts, even courts with conservative judges, are unreliable guarantors. (You may be getting the sense that Dick the Butcher had a point.) Perhaps above all, the pro-life apparatus must articulate a positive agenda rather than ceding the premises of the struggle. 

Yet the struggle does not occur in a vacuum. If the pro-life cause is at the mercy of a politicized law enforcement regime, gains in law are not secure. A friendly administration should not be a cause for complacency; if your safety depends on the policeman liking you, you are not in fact safe. You are certainly not free. The struggle to enshrine the right to life for the unborn has an identity of interest with the struggle to revive the ancient liberal principles of rule of law and equality before the law. In our own time, that struggle takes the form of the war on the administrative state—trimming its powers and increasing its accountability to the actually political portion of the state. Popular sovereignty and the primacy of the political are, as things stand, allied causes to the right to life.

Western political culture has undergone erosion and degradation in a variety of ways over the past two or three generations. Politicians have blithely reintroduced the rule of men into arenas previously governed by law. A fog of confusion about what governments actually do has descended upon our political and governing classes, who seem incapable of understanding that they are rulers rather than activists. The actual business of ruling has been shifted over to bureaucrats who are unresponsive to the normal workings of politics and who, unsurprisingly, are corporately not very interested in respecting your political rights

As we have been reminded recently, we live in a dark moment. The same forces covering for industrial baby murder are making themselves ever less accountable and responsive to the political will of the people. No wonder institutional trust—and, consequently, institutional affiliation—is at an all-time low. The temptation to drop out is becoming ever stronger. We face the prospect of being the first nation in history to stop existing as such, not because of invasion or disaster, but simply because everyone in it stopped thinking it existed, or that they were part of it. Yet the simple fact of the matter is that things will not improve if we stop trying.

We wish the PAAU five the best in the appeal process. Yet even in the case of their success, we must not lose sight of these two central points: Victories not secured in law are impermanent, and the struggle for the rights of the unborn is of a piece with the struggle to preserve popular sovereignty. If a candidate tells you he is for life but not against our state security apparatus and politicized law enforcement system, he is lying to you.