One of the key reasons that protection to the unborn has not yet been restored in law, and that public officials are not making the case persuasively to their colleagues that protection has to be restored to the unborn, is that the problem continues to be presented as a matter of viewpoints rather than victims.
Whether they are pro-life or not, too many elected officials talk about their “views” on abortion or their “beliefs” about life. That’s all well and good, and we hope they have the right views and beliefs. But none of that solves the problem.
The problem is not one of beliefs, but of bloodshed. It’s not one of viewpoints, but of victims. There are victims being killed by the thousands each day, and not a finger is being lifted to stop the bloodshed, because we’re too busy expressing (or arguing about) our viewpoints and beliefs. The whole topic has become too abstract.
If the abortion war in America were just about different beliefs and viewpoints, then the role of the public official would be simply to defend each person’s right to hold and express his or her beliefs, and to keep peace in the process. Those who were more courageous might go a step further and, as public officials, express their own belief that life is sacred.
But if the abortion war is about victims being killed each day, then the role of the public official is to protect the victim. This is what law is meant to accomplish. We work to protect the victims of child abuse, of crime in the streets, and of terrorist attacks. In these contexts, we’re not simply asking people to adopt particular viewpoints or beliefs. Rather, we’re exercising the responsibility to protect the victims despite the beliefs of those who think they should be killed.
Several practical steps have to be taken to refocus the discussion about abortion, both on the national and personal levels.
1. In addition to saying “I believe abortion is wrong,” say “Children in the womb should be protected.”
2. If a public official says, “I believe life is sacred,” ask them, “What will you do to protect life in the womb?”
3. Begin writing letters and articles making the distinction between an issue of “viewpoints” versus an issue of victims. Make parallels between the victims of abortion and the victims of child abuse, violent crime, and terrorism. Point out that all we are saying is that the unborn deserve the protection that the born have.
4. When Catholic public officials are pro-abortion, don’t simply talk about the fact that they betray their faith. Point out that they betray basic human decency. To support abortion is to support violence. If a public official declared that victims of violent crime had no rights, he or she would be contradicting the faith. But the focus would be on the victims’ rights – and so it must be for our unborn brothers and sisters.
5. Get beyond words and show images of the victims.