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The Pro-Life Movement Is Down, But Not Out

It is vital to make the moral argument to the American people.

Credit: Danielle Gagnon

This month is proving to be especially sad for pro-lifers. First and foremost, Ohioans overwhelmingly voted for legalizing abortion without any limits. This trend was echoed with normally conservative voters in Kentucky reelecting the pro-abortion Covid tyrant Andy Beshear. Moreover, the American Medical Association (AMA) is on track to endorsing assisted suicide, and in the United Kingdom, a terminally ill baby has once again been denied treatment and condemned to die over the objections of his family.

All of this has prompted some soul-searching among those who want to protect society’s most vulnerable members. It seems that they overestimated the average person’s concern for the unborn and elderly, and underestimated just how determined and well-funded the pro-abortion movement actually is. After the Dobbs ruling, red states were supposed to ban abortion en masse, pressuring blue states to impose more limits. Instead, the opposite came to pass: blue states have expanded abortion, putting pressure on red states to moderate their bans. 


This has led some critics on the right to conclude that the pro-life movement has been counterproductive in its fight against abortion by being uncompromising, inarticulate, and generally out-of-touch. In most states, restricting abortion has been a political loser (or as right-wing provocateur Anne Coulter memorably put it, “Pro-life is the Defund the Police of the GOP”), and rather than meeting the other side in the middle with a 15-week ban, pro-life politicians and activists push for full bans without exceptions. This provoked the other side to demonize pro-lifers as theocrats with absolutely no concern for women. (It doesn’t help that there are a few goons on the right who really do spout off sexist garbage.)

The counterargument is that the pro-life movement has been doing its best and would be more successful if it had more money and more confidence from supporters. As always, they are David fighting Goliath. In some ways, David had it easier: he was a king and warrior fighting a giant one-on-one, not a grassroots movement trying to galvanize a populace to do the right thing. His faith in God helped him win while pro-lifers are forced to put their faith in an increasingly indifferent populace held captive by ubiquitous abortion propaganda.

So who’s right? And does it even matter? With countless lives on the line, yes, this does matter. As for the first question, both sides make valid points that should work into how we can stop the bleeding at the ballot box and in the abortion clinic.

The conservative critics are right to challenge the pro-life movement to do a better job of reading the room. In a recent statement on X, the Republican Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio pointed out how pro-lifers have been so concerned with the legal and political arguments that they have neglected making the moral argument to Americans. The pro-life arguments that used to resonate with yesterday’s audience are no longer working with today’s audiences, who are much less informed and less interested. Today’s Americans spend far less time at church and far more time on their screens, and all of this makes them more susceptible to the slogans and distortions of pro-abortion activism. 

This would suggest that pro-lifers should start fighting fire with fire, appealing to the hearts (and guts) of voters instead of their minds. We should keep the argument simple (i.e. “abortion is murder”) and emphasize the utter brutality of it, particularly late-term abortions. At all points, we should resist arguments from exception and stick with the basic fact that abortion as well as assisted-suicide takes a life and is therefore evil. 


For anyone who doubts this approach or thinks it only works for leftist causes, they should consider just how quickly Americans rushed to support Israel after Hamas terrorists attacked their civilians, or how they stood in solidarity with Ukraine after Russia invaded. Sophisticated arguments weren’t necessary. People just had to point out that terrorism and war are bad things and show some videos and photos of what was happening. 

That said, these same critics go too far when they declare that the pro-life movement needs to disappear for a while. They seem to ignore the fact that, despite these election losses, the U.S. is far less entrenched in the culture of death than the rest of the developed world where both abortion and assisted-suicide are common. Without the pro-life movement, the United States would easily look like Canada or Western Europe where civilizational and demographic decline have permanently set in. It’s not a situation any American, progressive or conservative, would want.

The current situation for the pro-life movement mirrors that of George Bailey in the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. The pro-life movement is experiencing some hard times right now, prompting some to want to throw in the towel; pro-lifers need to listen to the angels who can show these doubters what the world would be without them. 

Times may be dark now for the movement, but if we learn from these losses, keep the faith, and continue championing life, we can make the pro-life movement wonderful again.


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