Principles of Pro-Life Action
By: Fr. Frank A. Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
The pro-life movement in the United States is strong, vast and complex. It is
comprised of a wide variety of activities, organizations, and people of all ages
and backgrounds. Providing alternatives to abortion, directly intervening to
save babies, educating, lobbying, and healing women and men from the wounds of
abortion are among the major activities of the movement. It has been estimated
that for every 50 hours that any one person spends on any kind of pro-life
activity, a life is saved.
Celebrating and honoring the tireless work of so many in this cause, and
encouraged by so many young people coming forward to continue it, we offer some
general reflections on how the movement can most effectively shape its
activities and initiatives.
1. There is an urgent need to formally and aggressively
recruit people to be involved in pro-life activity. Everything we
do, including prayer, requires people committed to doing it. People need to
know that there is a place in the movement for everyone, no matter what their
abilities may be.
2. There is a need to train the people we recruit.
There is a spirituality of being pro-life, and there are proven strategies for
ending abortion. Priests for Life conducts training in these matters, both in
person and online, bringing together the expertise of many of the movement’s
national leaders. We also refer people to the training provided by other
3. Pro-lifers need a long-range plan for bringing an
end to baby-killing. This plan should not merely be reactive to what the other
side is doing. Rather, it should reflect our goals, pursued in a deliberate and
effective manner. Priests for Life has been instrumental in developing such a
plan. Find out more at www.ProLifeStrategy.com.
4. The movement needs more full-time professionals
to bring their expertise in various fields to bear on the problem of abortion.
5. Those who fight abortion have a right to
focus on abortion, just like AA has a right to focus on alcoholics, or the
American Cancer Society on cancer. While we all need to recognize that all
issues related to human life and dignity are interrelated, pro-life groups
should not be made to feel that their agenda has to encompass every evil under
the sun. Trying to do everything results in a dissipation of energies to the
point of not effectively doing much about anything. We need people to focus on
ending abortion, and not to apologize for that focus.
6. It is essential to understand that more and
more people who support abortion admit that it is the killing of a baby, but
say, "So what? It should still be the woman's choice." This is the worst kind
of relativism, by which some think that they decide what is right and
wrong. They think the value of a person depends on how much value they want to
give that person. In response, therefore, the pro-life movement not only needs
to educate people about the nature of the baby and of abortion, but about the
nature of morality itself. We need to show the danger and absurdity of
7. Abortion is wrong for everyone, not only for
Christians. Pro-lifers need to be able to present their message both in
religious terms and in secular terms. Without apologizing for their faith,
Christians also should be able to present arguments from sources that
non-religious people acknowledge. After all, abortion supporters like to
dismiss our position exclusively as a "religious belief" and then consider
themselves exempt from it because of "religious freedom." But just as
“religious freedom” doesn’t justify stealing or terrorism, neither does it
8. The greatest challenge is not to convince people that
abortion is wrong, but rather to help them see that it is any of their
business. Most Americans already oppose most abortions. But abortion
continues because too many people do not want to "interfere with others'
choices." But when choices have victims, justice demands that we intervene to
protect the victims!
9. Abortion is a local phenomenon. While we must
continue to petition the government, abortions do not take place in the halls of
Congress. They take place down the street. We need to be sure that the
attention we give to Washington does not make us forget about our local
community. Pro-lifers need to give a local response to abortion by identifying
where the killing is happening and who is doing it, protesting the local
abortion mills, and providing concrete, local assistance to women in need. The
problem is not just about who is sitting in the White House, but that we are
sitting in our house!
10. Abortion is built on a double lie, that a) the "fetus"
is not a human equal to the rest of us, and that b) abortion helps women. While
continuing to counteract the first lie, we need to increase our efforts to
counteract the second. Abortion hurts women physically and
psychologically, and there is more evidence about that than ever. We need to
spread this truth. Many women have hardened their hearts against the child, but
are still concerned about their own well-being.
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign (a project of Priests
for Life and Anglicans for Life) brings forgiveness and healing to mothers,
fathers, and families of aborted children, and also allows them to share their
testimonies of pain and healing. The pro-life movement needs to gather and echo
these testimonies to overcome the lies of the other side and save more lives.
Those who regret their abortion can express that regret, even anonymously, at
our special site
Authentic concern for women demands a pro-life position.
The pro-life message is not, "Love the child and forget the woman." Nor is
there credibility to the pro-abortion message, "Love the woman by killing the
child." The only sane position, which is the authentic pro-life stance, is,
"Why can't we love them both?"
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