Dear Pro Lifers: It's time to rethink advocacy

The following article was originally published in the Hillsdale Collegian and can be accessed on their website here.
As Hillsdale students, we know all about the March for Life. Since 1974, thousands have marched down the National Mall in an annual protest of a 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. This year was no different, and like many previous years, Hillsdale sent a group to join the protest.
Students returning from the march should celebrate the recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It shows that from 2006 – 2015 abortion declined 26 percent. Pro-lifers should also be wary. As abortion has plummeted in the U.S., the pro-abortion movement has become more enraged. They argue that those who wish to restrict abortion are declaring a war on women.
While this language may be harsh, pro-choice advocates are correct: As the pro-life movement stands today, its stated goals would restrict a women’s reproductive rights.
In 2019, this alone puts the pro-life movement at a massive disadvantage. It’s time the pro-life movement revisits how it advocates because any social movement that alienates half the electorate is bound to fail.
The pro-life movement’s battle cries haven’t changed since pro-lifers began marching 45 years earlier. To be pro-life today means supporting an end to both the practice and legality of abortion. But even with a pro-life president, two new conservative Supreme Court justices, and the possibility of a third in the next six years, abortion is unlikely to become illegal in America’s foreseeable future.
While the marchers have continued marching, America and the world around her has dramatically changed. Maybe here, in the heartland, America has retained some of her conservative social values, but everywhere else, it seems, abortion has become a publicly applauded activity.
To the horror of many, abortion has become a tweetable act, as displayed by the Twitter trend #ShoutYourAbortion.
It has also become near impossible to avoid shopping at chains that donate to America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. While some states have succeeded in rolling back gestation limits on abortion, others like New York have recently celebrated the legalization of abortion up until birth.
In Ireland, the pro-life movement faced a major blow last spring when the country’s own people voted to legalize abortion — an act that decades earlier would have been unthinkable.
While most of the developed world has been encompassed in a #MeToo movement that condemns non-consensual sex, they have also sustained a culture that increasingly sees little problem with non-consensual death.
In Oregon and a growing number of states, euthanasia is on the rise.
In Europe, these inhumane acts are even worse. Last year, National Review wrote that elderly Europeans had been lethally injected against their will because their own children didn’t want to take care of them.
In 2009, only three babies were born in Iceland with Down syndrome. The rest were aborted. The United Kingdom is not too far behind with its own Down syndrome rates either. Columnist George Will has been right to call what’s happening in Europe what it is: systematic genocide.
As the rest of the world has molded to the changing times, the marching pro-life Americans have refused to budge, and commendably so. This resilience is exemplary of the type of nation America has often been — a beacon of hope in a lost world.
Yet despite the strength pro-lifers have shown in standing their ground, it’s time to acknowledge the movement’s failures and focus on the humanitarian crisis at hand. The pro-life stance, as it stands today, is on the losing side of a global cultural battle. To be pro-life today is to be against women, according to more than half the country. It is considered by many a position held by judgmental, ignorant deplorables who don’t understand the pains and sufferings of living in the real world.
We live in a polarized time, no doubt. This is a bitter reality, so pro-lifers should ask: What can this movement do to fix it?
Our Conservatives’ principles do not need to change, because what is good and bad in this world does not change. But, circumstances do. In these troubled times, I have one suggestion for the pro-life movement I have grown to admire since coming to Hillsdale: Don’t march to change the law. March to change hearts.
As any economics major will say: Laws don’t prevent immoral acts from occurring. In some cases, making something illegal only ensures greater harm in a black market.
Liberals often win culture wars because unlike conservatives, they don’t make their final ends always known or they simply don’t have one. They start small, with something easy to convince people to accept, like offering an oppressed group certain protections. Once society accepts that, they ask for more.
Pro-lifers should adapt a bit of their strategy. Abandon changes to the law that would infuriate half the country — a tyrannical majority can come from both sides — and instead work towards filling the void in a culture that numbs the consequences of giving up. Don’t judge those who make choices you disagree with, but instead offer love, compassion, and a better example for them to follow.
Celebrate those who overcome immense suffering. Whether it’s a veteran who runs a marathon despite their legs having been blown off, a family member who overcomes mental health struggles, or a fellow citizen with Down syndrome living a fulfilling life, there are stories to be told.
By starting with the easily emphatic examples of what it means to be pro-life, you can start chipping away at the minds of those who decide politics based on feelings. Once they’re on the right road, the truth will become clearer, more ground will be gained, and the pro-life movement will have saved more lives.
The world is changing rapidly. Euthanasia is already at our doorstep and genetic modification is not far behind. If we’re going to hold on to any of our humanity, we best be prudent and get to work.

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