Pendulums swing, and political experts point out that the results of yesterday’s elections are not unusual for the sixth year of a two-term President. I will leave to them the detailed political commentary about the dynamics of this election. Let me share with you, however, some key points for us to keep in mind as a pro-life movement, and as we continue with renewed zeal to press forward with our goals.
1. The Democrats gained power by latching onto our momentum, not theirs. These comments in the Washington Post today are instructive: “The complexion of the Democratic presence in Congress will change as well. Party politics will be shaped by the resurgence of "Blue Dog" Democrats, who come mainly from the South and from rural districts in the Midwest and often vote like Republicans. Top Democrats such as Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) see these middle-of-the-road lawmakers as the future of the party in a nation that leans slightly right of center. In private talks before the election, Emanuel and other top Democrats told their members they cannot allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda next year.”
And the hear of the “liberal wing” is support for abortion on demand.
The Democrats did not (and could not) gain any control in Congress by opposing the pro-life position, but rather by having enough candidates who claimed to embrace it (like Bob Casey, Jr.). Neither party made abortion a top campaign issue; meanwhile, on issues like the war or taxes or spending, pro-life people take various positions. Democratic advances are no indication that people buy into the party’s platform on abortion, which in fact the American public has never supported.
2. Unless pro-life wins, nobody wins. The Democrats’ continued failure to affirm that government must protect unborn children from the violence of abortion calls into serious question their ability to speak credibly about war. In 1994, Mother Teresa asked President Clinton, and all America, “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?” (Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 3, 1994).
The Washington Post reports today that exit polls found 41 percent of voters rated corruption "extremely important" to their decision. Yet corruption cuts both political ways. The willingness to permit, under law, the dismemberment of children in the womb without so much as supporting measures to give them pain relief represents a deep corruption of the mind and heart. In fact, one of the first questions I have for the new House leadership is, “What action will you take on the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, that would require a mother to be given the option of providing pain relief for her unborn child at 20 or more weeks of pregnancy before killing that child by abortion?”
Indeed, it’s time for Democrats to prove our point. Every effort to build a just society will fail until we eliminate the most fundamental injustice. We cannot welcome the poor or the immigrant without welcoming our own children, and we cannot advance peace in the world until there’s peace in the womb.
3. Culturally, we continue to have the momentum. The fact is, we are well on our way to re-establishing peace in the womb, despite the Democratic extremism on abortion.
Today, I will be in the Supreme Court to listen to the oral arguments in which the Bush Administration will defend the Federal Ban on Partial-birth abortion. This law represents the first time the United States has banned an abortion procedure since Roe vs. Wade. That would not have happened except for the election victories of the last six years. Moreover, the law is being considered by a Supreme Court with two new Justices, placed there again as a result of electoral progress over the last six years and likely to be favorable to upholding the ban.
Every trend continues to move in our direction:
opinion polls about abortion
the declining number of abortions, abortionists, and abortion mills
the strong new motivation of our young pro-life activists who know they are abortion survivors
the growing voice of women and men harmed by abortion, who contradict its promise of “benefit”
the evidence in science about who the child is
the medical evidence that abortion is no benefit to women
the sociological evidence that abortion is no benefit to society
a new wave of clergy who are more ready for the pro-life battle than ever
a new wave of reporters and other professionals who are far more pro-life than their predecessors
and much more.
4. The vote on the South Dakota ban does not mean what abortion supporters want it to mean. The American people continue to oppose all but a small fraction of the abortions that are permitted. The circumstances in which most of the American public supports the legality of abortion are the circumstances of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life or physical health – circumstances which account for a few percentage points of the total numbers of abortion. This, in fact, explains why there was not majority support at the ballot box for the South Dakota abortion ban. Pro-abortion forces, bringing most of their money in from outside of the state, bargained on being able to get the people to reject a “no rape exception policy,” and hence miss the forest for the trees. The people of South Dakota don’t support the Planned Parenthood policy of abortion on demand, and neither does the rest of America. But don’t hold your breath waiting for abortion supporters to tell you that.
5. Keep politics in perspective. Ultimately, what are we seeking when we try to put pro-life public officials into office? We are not looking to them to do our work for us. We are looking to them to do their work and to let us do ours. Ultimately, the People of God have the responsibility for ending abortion, and will do so. The only question is how many obstacles public officials will put in their way, not whether public officials will stop them. The work of public officials is, first and foremost, to protect the public. Yet it is that same duty that falls to the People of God as they continue to expose the truth about abortion, promote alternatives, heal those wounded by abortion and help them speak out, close abortion facilities, and continue to work within the legislative and political arena to challenge government to fulfill the purpose for which it was established.
6. Start working now for 2008. Pendulums swing, and elections are about people getting involved. The time to begin the effort to elect people in 2008, including a pro-life president, is now. Mobilize, educate, grow your lists, and be more vocal and confident than ever before. I look forward to working together with you to pick up the slack, awaken our fellow citizens and believers with the enduring message of truth and life, and restoring, in culture and in law, the protection of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters. Remember, we are not just working for victory; we are working from victory. Victory is our starting point, because Christ is Risen. The outcome of the battle for life has already been decided. It only remains for us to be sure to do our part to proclaim, celebrate, and serve that victory, and bring its transforming power to every segment of our society!