The commitment to defend the weakest and most vulnerable human beings does not arise from a political party or platform, nor from any kind of personal or communal agenda. Nor does it arise from bishops, priests, or pastors. Rather, it arises from our humanity itself, fashioned as it is by the hand of God. God, who is life, writes upon our hearts its value, and He bestows on us both the gift of life and the privilege and duty to defend it. Nobody needs any kind of permission to defend life, nor can anyone excuse himself from that duty. Nobody has a monopoly on the defense of life, nor is the pro-life task a means to an end. Defending life is an end in itself, and has in itself all the justification it ever needs.
The two major political parties in America, right now, take opposite views of the right to life. The Democratic Party platform (2004) reads, "Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay." The Republican Party platform (2004) reads, "We must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the 14th Amendment's protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it."
There are, nonetheless, pro-life and pro-abortion members of both parties, including legislators on the state and federal level.
Recently, I was with some of the pro-life Democratic members of Congress at a press conference led by Democrats for Life and held at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in Washington. The topic was the "95-10" Initiative, which contains numerous legislative proposals aimed at reducing the numbers of abortion by 95% in the next ten years.
There are many proposals in this package, like women's right-to-know provisions, funding for promotion of alternatives to abortion, strengthening of adoption practices, and more. These are key goals for all of us to pursue. The precise way in which these and other proposals in 95-10 should be written into law will, of course, need to be carefully debated and refined. For example, we always have to avoid the trap of thinking that access to contraception is a solution to the abortion problem. The opposite, in fact, is true.
And in the end, we cannot be content to reduce the numbers of abortions. We have to acknowledge that laws permitting even a single abortion undermine the very fabric of our freedom and our republic. Abortion is an act of violence that no nation has the right to permit. But when anyone in our great nation, Democrat or Republican, wants to advance the Culture of Life to any degree, that deserves an "Amen!" from us all.