For 35 years, the pro-life movement has refused to go away.
Despite the political debate, the wearying and endless culture wars, the media bias, the propagandistic stereotypes of pro-lifers, the relentless hostility of the legislators who support abortion rights and the inertia of many legislators who claim to be opposed, the movement has never given up.
Its dedication and longevity can only be compared to the abolitionist movement or the struggle for civil rights for blacks, and in its breadth and depth, the U.S. pro-life movement is unmatched in any country in the world.
Indeed, the March for Life that will take place again this year in Washington to mark the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is itself a tribute to the resilience of this movement. Motivated by concern for the weakest and most defenseless in our nation, tens of thousands will once again brave the cold to bear witness to our nation that they will never go away so long as millions of babies are killed each year.
This stubborn presence by committed pro-lifers is a great sign of hope for all who believe in the inalienable right to life of every human being.
This week, our special pro-life issue presents two other signs of hope in the pro-life movement as it matures well into its second generation.
First, the Human Life Review (HLR), a thoughtful, provocative journal of pro-life analysis that is more than 30 years old, is a testament to the intellectual maturing of the pro-life position. It continues to be a forum for pro-life advocates to address critical life issues, from abortion to euthanasia, infanticide and more recent anti-life actions like the destruction of embryos for stem-cell research. It testifies to the fact that pro-lifers have far more than simply emotion on their side. There are credible intellectual arguments that demand a response from abortion supporters, a response that they rarely get.
One author who has been often featured in the HLR is Nat Hentoff. He is that most provocative of intellects: a Jewish atheist civil libertarian pro-lifer. Hentoff was a friend of Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, and his writings on life issues have been widely praised in pro-life circles, even as they have been vilified or ignored in the more liberal climes where he resides.
He has experienced firsthand the blacklisting and the prejudice that has tended to be the intellectual establishment's response to abortion opponents. Yet his relentless defense of the rights of the unborn and the newborn, the aged and the ill has helped broaden the pro-life message and reached many in society who might otherwise be reluctant to engage in what they perceive to be a religious debate rather than a civil rights issue.
At the end of the day, however, the pro-life battle will not be won by marches or scholarly writings. At the end of the day, it will be people like Janet Smith and Ann Manion and the founders and staffers of organizations like the Women's Care Center, which we also profile this week, who convince a nation to harden not its heart to the plight of both the unborn and their mothers.
The pro-life struggle may not end for another 35 years. It may not end in our lifetime. But so long as the pro-life movement exists, the weak and the defenseless -- at the beginning of life through to its natural end -- will have reason to hope that America ultimately will choose life.
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