For Pro-Lifers, Timing Is Everything

Over the past few years cutting-edge pro-life legislative initiatives have emerged in a couple of states; initiatives that are not the run-of-the-mill incrementalist type, but are substantive in nature. Take, for example, the South Dakota bill, originally attempted a couple of years ago. It failed the first time, but the South Dakota lawmakers did not give up. They tried again, and this year a version of the same bill actually became law.

The new South Dakota law bans all medical and surgical abortion. This new law does not admit to any exception; it protects all preborn children from medical abortions such as RU-486 and surgical abortions as well.

I was fully expecting such legislation to receive resounding, unanimous support from pro-life groups nationwide. While I am highly encouraged by the many solid organizations that are enthusiastically backing the new law and putting that support in writing, I am astonished to report that the unanimity I anticipated is regrettably absent.

The holdouts are admittedly few, but that short list includes some of the best-known organizations. It seems these folks are concerned that the South Dakota law is premature, that the timing is wrong, that it might cause more problems than it solves depending on how the Supreme Court handles it. That is, of course, if the Supreme Court ever gets an opportunity to address it. The comments from such groups are based on speculation. Not a one of those who are uttering such concerns have provided a single shred of evidence to support their view; and not a one of them has provided the rest of us with the inside track on the crystal ball they are using.

It’s outlandish for any organization or individual who is identified as pro-life to argue that a bill banning all surgical and medical abortions is ill-timed. Such statements defy the heart of what the pro-life movement is all about.

None of us are involved in this struggle to predict what nine Supreme Court justices may do, or what a campaign to obliterate abortion through public referendum might produce. We do what we do because babies are dying and we want to end the senseless crimes that produce thousands of dead bodies every single day.

I ask you, why isn’t everyone listening to the wee small voices gleefully singing the praises of an effort to end this heinous act that has already murdered well over 40 million little ones?

No, I am not having visions! I am imagining what those 40 million children would do if somebody asked them about the timing of a law that they knew would protect their future brothers and sisters from grisly acts of human destruction; a law that would once again make the womb a place of safety rather than a war zone.

And it’s not just the South Dakota law that has become the target of high-level pro-life denigration. Let’s talk about Michigan’s effort, lest you get the idea that the South Dakota situation is just a blip on the pro-life radar screen. In the state of Michigan, Michigan Citizens for Life has launched a massive petition drive designed to collect 317,000 valid signatures by July 10, so that a proposed Constitutional Amendment can be placed on the November 7 ballot.

The Prenatal Child Protection Amendment simply states that a person’s life begins at conception and thus that individual deserves equal protection under the law. It is a short, concise and principled attempt to assert the facts. It sounds so simple, and as Richard Thompson, director of the Thomas More Law Center has said, "The success of this petition drive is vitally important if we are to insure that Michigan becomes a pro-life state after Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court."

So why is the state’s major pro-life group opposing this effort in Michigan? One has to recognize that there is trouble in River City, for once again pro-lifers are being told that “the time is not right” for such a sweeping action to occur.

It isn’t just timing that brings out this negativity; we have also heard that there are other laws already in place in Michigan that would accomplish the same goal as this new proposal. Of course there is debate on that point as well. But the fact of the matter is that any effort, regardless of how it is crafted, that poses a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade is a good one. And God knows, after 33 years, the pro-life movement needs to be bold, setting aside the old ways in deference to new ideas, legislative and otherwise.

The most disturbing aspect of all this pessimistic chatter is quite simply that those vocal few who oppose the petition drive could have simply remained silent rather than threatening politicians, publicly chastising those who support it and otherwise making a mockery of what should have been a united effort to teach, preach and spread the truth from one end of Michigan to the other. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And let’s face it; the abortion business isn’t going to simply go away on its own.

As has been witnessed in South Dakota, however, those who support such strong initiatives are not deterred by the negativism. Time marches on, volunteers continue to circulate petitions and things are really beginning to look good in Michigan. The nay-sayers aside, grass roots people, whether they reside in South Dakota or Michigan, do hear the voices, they do want to see an end to slaughtering little babies and they do want to do what is outside the box, what is daring but meaningful in order to achieve that goal.

The time, you see, is right. For as Dick Thompson wrote when pointing out the value of the Michigan petition drive, "In another great human rights struggle Martin Luther King, Jr., had to contend with the same ‘wait’ argument that opposed his direct action in Birmingham, Alabama. In his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he responded, ‘For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’"

Listen to the voices; focus on the babies and it becomes perfectly clear: Now is the time, and of course timing is everything.