Monday, April 28, 2014

Why has the Pro Life movement met with so little success?

Why is the pro- life movement continuing to argue to so little effect?  Why is it that in Canada even our most conservative federal party which has been in power since 2006 is unwilling to open any discussion which might associate them to our cause?

It is not because we are wrong.  We have long been convicted that abortion kills a human, and advances in science have only confirmed this conviction. The idea that it is not a human life is almost inarguable in any field of debate.  For this reason our opponents don’t bother to make that argument. 

I think it is because we market our message wrongly.  How do we sell the pro life message to our audience?  Remember that in a democracy for a change to happen a majority of people have to desire that change- at least theoretically.   So just pointing out the fact that we are correct is not enough.  People have to want to side with us.  I think in that battle much of what we do is futile, and in some cases even counter-productive.

We know that we live in a secular society, and that due to the popular interpretation of ‘separation of Church and state’ a majority of people, even religious people, think that a purely religious idea should not affect policies.  For too long we have tied our message so deeply to the Christian faith that people have interpreted it to be a merely ‘religious’ conviction, and as a religious conviction it cannot influence policy.  Advocates of abortion have used the label ‘religious right’ against us, and to great effect.

But even if we are aware that making our message a religious message is counter-productive, many of us are carrying religious assumptions into our debate!  Our message is essentially “Abortion is wrong because it destroys a human life.”  But that statement makes 2 essentially religious assumptions- that there is such a thing as objective morality, and that there is a particular dignity to human life.  If you assume a completely secular world view, it would be tough to defend either of those assumptions.  Ask yourself why you believe in objective morality, or in the inherent dignity of human life, and I think you will find these ideas are rooted in religious ideas.

Pro-lifers always challenge their opponents by asking “What difference is there between a born baby and an unborn baby?”  Whether their opponents can articulate it or not, the difference isn’t  in size, level of development, environment or degree of dependency.  The difference is that no one can empathize with a baby in the womb.  And empathy is the root of morality for a pure secularist!

I would put it to you that most people, who have the secularist assumptions whether they know it or not, determine which cause is just and moral based on empathy.  They cannot empathize with the baby-  but they can empathize with the mother.  If we are perceived as being unempathetic to the mother, then we are perceived as being nasty and immoral people.  And it is for this reason that we have gotten so little traction.

If my daughter got pregnant, and had an abortion, and went through all of the associated stress and guilt and shame… and you called my daughter a murderer, or compared her to a Nazi, or thrust an image of an aborted fetus in her face…. I would punch you in the head. (Ok, so I probably wouldn't actually punch you in the head... but I would want to!)  I think that as a movement we cannot afford to be the people that everyone else wants to punch in the head.

So I think we have 2 challenges before us in the fight for life. 1. We need to create empathy for the unborn child. 2. We need to demonstrate that the pro-life movement is the one that cares about the mothers.

Practically speaking, how do we do that? In part, I want to leave that with you.  If we as a pro life movement can start thinking about how to create empathy with unborn babies, and how to love women better, maybe we can get some momentum.  If you believe as I do that this issue is in many ways the trump issue of our times, than maybe we need to start putting more time and resources into the organizations that are meeting those objectives.  Groups that are making 3-D ultrasounds available, or groups that are showing support for moms, like Crisis Pregnancy Centres or the Back Porch, or groups that provide support to women who have had abortions, like Project Rachel.  There are so many good things happening in the pro life movement!

We are the ones who are standing both with the babies and with the mothers!  It's time to re frame the debate so that every politician, media personality, and public figure is proud to stand with us!  


  1. Nice work. Agree totally, never been a fan of the attack-style pro life stuff. There may be a time for it but it's not in open forums

  2. great work. i like how you put that. hope it goes well for you in edmonton.God bless

  3. Peter, this is great and articulates much of what Sharon and I believe and have had a hard time expressing to others. Well done sir. Best of luck!

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  5. Thanks so much for writing this!

  6. Thanks so much for writing this!

  7. The issue is that the proof in the pudding, as they say. People who don't want to have abortions already don't. So really, what we are dealing with is millions of people who need to stopped by law. It's just not possible. You can't throw everyone in jail. At the end of the day, it's a democracy and dead children can't cry for their rights.
    The function of govt is to stop evildoers, not convert hearts. We throw murderers and pedophiles in jail. We DON'T have to WAIT until their hearts and minds change.