It’s easy to identify as “pro-life” when one sees nothing really at stake. For forty years, legal abortion has been securely anchored in American law. Even after the rise of the Religious Right, two Reagan Administrations and three Bush Administrations, abortion is legal everywhere in the United States. With this the case, it is easy for Americans to see the debate as a matter of theory rather than a matter of policy.Read the rest.
I remember having a discussion once with friends about what side I would have taken on the Vietnam war had I been alive in the 1960s. That’s an easy coffee shop discussion to have because I don’t have a draft notice in the mail. I’m not on a campus being mentored by an anti-war professor. I’m not a Cambodian farmer or a south Vietnamese shrimper in danger of being murdered by the Khmer Rouge or the Vietcong.
There are all sorts of politicians who have identified as “pro-life” when all that meant was casting relatively symbolic votes. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer and former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, for example, were reliably pro-life, until they were presented with legislation restricting abortion in meaningful ways in their states. At that point, they shifted.
I’m afraid the same is true on the individual level. A feminist leader once said that most Americans are pro-life with three exceptions: rape, incest, and “my situation.” When the teenage daughter is pregnant, the theory is abandoned and bloodthirsty pragmatism rules. I fear this feminist is all too right.
Pharaoh was pro-immigrant until the Israelites threatened what he wanted. The first Herod Administration was pro-Messiah until the actual Messiah threatened his throne. The second Herod Administration was fine with desert prophets until one meddled with his “adult entertainment.” Lots of people are pro-life and pro-child until the lives of children become personally inconvenient.
Does that mean that I, as a pro-lifer, am pessimistic about the future of our engagement on this issue. Not at all.
Books by Russell Moore: