The wee small hours of the morning caught many of us stunned by the results in South Dakota’s abortion referendum, and anxiety ridden over what might happen in Missouri’s human embryonic stem cell balloting. Missouri’s tally was nip and tuck all the way; but the South Dakota vote was a runaway for the culture of death. Did the residents of that state really want abortion on demand? Apparently they did. Otherwise, the heroic efforts of pro-lifers in the state would have delivered a solid victory for the babies.
So, I had to ask myself, why did we lose in South Dakota? But that question provoked a second question. What might have happened if American Life League had been joined in South Dakota by the other major pro-life groups, most notably the National Right to Life Committee? Could our collective efforts, in support of pro-lifers in that state, have delivered a victory? We will never know.
But one thing we do know is this: America wants abortion. America wants to continue its affair with sexual freedom. America wants, even in the heartland, to pretend that killing a baby in the womb is not really an act of murder; it is simply and only a "choice" that one must make when the "accident" occurs after a sexual encounter with someone of the opposite sex. If that sounds a bit offensive to you, you’d better take a hard look at these election results and ponder what they mean. South Dakota is not the liberal West Coast nor is the ultra-liberal East Coast. It is part of America’s heartland.
As far as I can tell, the people of that state approve of virtually unrestricted abortion on demand. As sad as that might be for some of us to accept, it is a truth we might be able to turn into a teaching moment.
Did we really lose in South Dakota? Or did we win the ability to examine a crucial question that far too many of us in the pro-life movement are afraid to ask?
The question is this: Will the average American ever see the preborn child as a fellow human being if he or she is conceived as a result of an act whose only purpose is sexual gratification? I wonder about that. I wonder even more about the reasons why, the day after an election, in all the punditry over how the White House will deal with a Democrat-controlled House, no one will ask George W. Bush a simple, basic question: Mr. President, where were you when South Dakotans were debating abortion? Why didn’t you visit the state? Did the act of aborting a human person prior to birth really matter to you?
Let’s see if we can answer that question by taking a look at the Senate race in Pennsylvania. Sen. Rick Santorum was frequently described as a champion of the pro-life cause. He did, after all, introduce the flawed partial-birth abortion law. But two years ago, he worked vigorously, along with President Bush, in a primary campaign in support of pro-abortion Republican Arlen Specter’s successful Senate re-election bid. In case your memory is a bit foggy, Specter’s opponent in the primary was slightly more pro-life than he was. But no matter. Santorum, an allegedly pro-life senator, campaigned for an outspoken pro-abortion fellow Republican.
Did Santorum alienate the pro-life voting base he had come to rely on? Did his partisan political efforts, which trumped his pro-life position in 2004, come back to haunt him in 2006?
What about New Jersey? The National Right to Life Political Action Committee poured big bucks into putting out mailings for the pro-abortion Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean. The result? A pro-abortion Democrat won the race. What does that say about betraying your stated goal for the sake of partisan politics?
I, on the other hand, have often been described as politically naïve, if not politically retarded. I do not pay attention to party labels, polling data or what the public can bear. I only pay attention to the babies—each and every one of them. I only care about what will happen to them if a particular bill passes—or if a particular person defines himself as pro-life but then acts differently. And yes, I am one of those absolutists who cannot tolerate "exceptions" for rape, incest or life of the mother. I care about those babies and their mothers, regardless of the circumstances. To my mind, both mother and child, always and in every case, have intrinsic value. I naively believe that we pro-lifers, including and most particularly political types, need to strive to do all we can to protect both of them.
With that kind of attitude, I am often defined as the politically stupid part of the pro-life political equation. But this election might just prove to some doubters the actual value of my position. No, it’s not my unique position, it is the position of the Catholic Church, the position of the Bible, the position of those who understand that a baby is a baby is a baby; never is a baby an "issue." In other words, maybe it’s time to put babies and truth ahead of political parties, polling data and fund raising.
I reflect on the 2006 elections and have a different take than most. I do not see the results in South Dakota and Missouri as a problem or a defeat; they are opportunities. They are chances for all of us to get with the program and recall a simple fact: The work we do is work for God Himself. Our work is about babies.
The results of the 2006 elections make one thing perfectly clear to me. Our goal is never, and I do mean never, to serve the interests of politics or political parties, but only to serve the babies. We are not looking for an avenue that justifies the "lesser of two evils." We are looking for the chance to save every single preborn child without exception. Why? Well, because it’s the babies, stupid!