The Long Conversion Toward Pro-Life
For his issue-opening Public Square column in the most recent issue of First Things, editor Joseph Bottum takes on the perennial calls for Republicans to de-emphasize the pro-lifers in their midst. “There’s a good-sized section of the conservative commenting classes that seems to blame the pro-lifers if the Republicans lose, and dismiss the pro-life vote if the Republicans win.”
We should not accept a truce on abortion because the pro-life position is, in fact, winning. With horrifying slowness, yes, but each graduating class of young people is more opposed to abortion than the last, and in the long run the great task of persuasion and argument will prevail.
On the broad topic, I agree with Mr. Bottum’s conclusion, but I do wonder whether he’s adequately braced for the loss of momentum that may occur when the expanding pro-life contingent hits the containing walls of related issues for which abortion is a territorial boundary guard — sex ed, promiscuity, birth control, marriage, leftist women’s liberation, and so on. It would be entirely plausible, mind you, to suggest that the clear moral calculus of the pro-life position will force cultural reevaluation of some of the assumptions that root in our natural lusts. But it will surely appear, at points, as if pro-life victory is a hopeless pursuit facing insurmountable opposition from people too heavily invested to change their minds.
The remedy for despair is to recall that ours is a project for generations and worth the work not because it’s politically beneficial, but because it’s right.