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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 groups. 

            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 

            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 relativism. 

            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 justify abortion. 

            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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