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Talking About Pro-Life Progress

April 15, 2019 Featured Today No Comments

By FR. SHENAN J. BOQUET

(Editor’s Note: This article is reprinted with permission of Human Life International, www.hli.org. It first appeared at www.hli.org on April 8, 2019. Fr. Boquet is the president of HLI.)

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“To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin’” (John 8:34) — Pope St. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, n. 20.

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To anyone who’s been paying attention, it’s clear that the pro-life movement is gaining enormous momentum. However, if you still have any doubts about pro-life progress, you need only glance at Planned Parenthood’s latest press release, responding to data just published by the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood’s former research arm.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, since the beginning of this year over 250 pro-life bills have been introduced in over 41 states. Almost 50 percent of those bills would ban abortion in “some or all circumstances,” says the organization. In fact, according to Planned Parenthood’s analysis, legislators in seven states have proposed bills that would completely ban abortion, while six states are considering or have passed “trigger bans” that would ban abortion if or when Roe v. Wade is repealed.
Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, linked the glut of pro-life bills to both the conservative shift on the Supreme Court, and the increasingly open efforts of the pro-life movement to enact total abortion bans. “Energized by a new Supreme Court, anti-abortion activists and politicians have kicked into high gear their decades-long agenda to ban abortion through a series of increasingly radical and dangerous abortion bans,” she stated.
Nash claimed, disingenuously, that the pro-life bills being introduced “are about exerting control and power over pregnant people.” But, for the growing number of Americans who call themselves pro-life, this claim is simply absurd. The goals of the pro-life movement have nothing to do with controlling pregnant women; they have to do with protecting the lives of the unborn children that science and ultrasound technology have revealed beyond any shadow of a doubt to be just as fully alive and human as you or I.
Extremist leftist organizations like Planned Parenthood, which have built their ideology on denying or conscientiously burying basic scientific truths, are struggling to remain relevant now that those scientific truths are so undeniable and publicly accessible, thanks both to technology and the tireless efforts of the pro-life movement.
Indeed, the absurdity of the Guttmacher Institute’s ideological extremism is on display in Nash’s remark about pro-lifers wanting to control “pregnant people.” One of the pro-abortion movement’s latest dogmas is that men can get pregnant — i.e., so-called “transgender men,” which is to say, biological women who now claim that they are men. This claim is at least as absurd as the claim that the unborn child is just a “blob of tissue” that magically becomes a living human person either the moment the “pregnant person” (i.e., mother) decides that she wants the baby, or that the baby emerges from the birth canal.
Another immensely encouraging piece of news from the Guttmacher Institute’s report is that six states have only a single abortion facility left. In other words, these states are on the verge of eliminating surgical abortions from their borders even without passing legislation banning abortions. In fact, statistics show that the number of abortion clinics across the country has plummeted over the last two decades. According to Operation Rescue, in 2018 the total number of abortion clinics in the U.S. fell to 697. That’s a decrease of 79 percent since 1991.
The Washington Post blames many of these closures on the successful passage of pro-life progress in legislation.
The massive growth in such pro-life legislation, and closure of abortion clinics, coincides with a dramatic decrease in the U.S. abortion rate. According to the CDC, the U.S. abortion rate reached a historical low in 2015. That translates into millions of lives saved.
Planned Parenthood President Dr. Leana Wen sounds panicked, as well she might. “Today, the reality we live in is a terrifying one for women around the country,” she claimed. As is typical of Planned Parenthood, Wen deceptively attempted to link the reduction in abortion clinics to disruptions in access to services like cancer screenings and STD and HIV testing. In reality, pro-lifers have thoroughly debunked Planned Parenthood’s past claims to offer mammograms (even the pro-abortion Washington Post had to admit that pro-lifers were right). Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s own public numbers show that most of their non-abortion-related services have been declining for years, while abortions keep climbing.
However, Wen is quite right when she bemoans the fact that “access to abortion care is disappearing in states.” But far from a “terrifying” reality for women, this means that many more young girls will have a chance to be born, rather than being flushed down the drains at Planned Parenthood’s abortion facilities before they ever even have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. So, too, many more young women will have the opportunity to pursue a happy, meaningful life without carrying the burden of shame and regret that so often follows after accepting Planned Parenthood’s bleak, self-centered, and murderously maintained worldview.
Crucially, many of the bills introduced around the country are so-called “heartbeat bills,” which would ban abortion after the point when the baby’s heartbeat can be detected. Such bills would not only prevent the overwhelming majority of abortions from taking place but present a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. If passed into law, such bills would inevitably be challenged in court, ultimately ending up at the Supreme Court, which would have the opportunity to revisit the notorious case that ushered abortion on demand into the United States. Pro-abortion activists clearly believe that they may very well see Roe v. Wade overturned within months or a few years. It’s up to us, with God’s grace, to ensure that their fears are well-founded.
Interestingly, even many of the massive liberal corporations which, in the past, have not hesitated to use their influence to threaten individual states if they should pass legislation that goes against the leftist agenda have declined to publicly oppose the heartbeat bills being introduced in states like Georgia. I think the reason why is obvious: Public opinion is trending pro-life. Corporations that threatened Georgia for passing religious liberty legislation a few years ago know that they can’t risk associating their brand with the killing of unborn babies.
Amidst the hundreds of pro-life bills that have been introduced, a more conservative Supreme Court, a president who seems determined to fulfill his pro-life promises in the face of any amount of backlash, and the release of what may well be the most successful pro-life movie ever made — Unplanned, telling the story of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson — the abortion industry in the United States seems set to have what may well turn out to be its worst year since the Supreme Court first passed Roe v. Wade.
That said, pro-lifers should be wary of growing even a little bit complacent. Pro-abortion forces are terrified, and in response they are rallying their supporters and legislative allies to push back…hard. As Planned Parenthood noted in its release, the pro-life bills “have triggered a counter response from constituents and reproductive health-care champions.” This, in part, explains the glut of attempts (some of which have been successful) to pass laws enshrining the most extreme versions of legal abortion in states like New York and Virginia.
We live in chaotic times, and there is much to be worried about in terms of the state and future of our culture. However, if respect for the sanctity of human life is, as Pope St. John Paul II so often proclaimed, the necessary foundation for a healthy society, then it would seem we have great reason for both hope and gratitude: gratitude that so many lives are already being saved thanks to our country’s pro-life direction, and hope that within our lifetimes we may yet see the end of the reign of terror that is legalized abortion-on-demand.

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