Last weekend, women from all over the country descended on Washington, D.C., to protest newly inaugurated President Donald Trump. While Trump's alleged attitudes toward women (as exhibited by coarse remarks caught on audiotape) motivated many of the marchers, make no mistake: Abortion rights were front and center. (Planned Parenthood was a "premier partner.")
In fact, pro-life women's groups were informed that they were not welcome at the so-called "Women's March." Pro-life isn't "feminist," they were told; it's not "progressive."
This weekend, Washington, D.C., will host a very different sort of protest — the March for Life. This annual event, protesting the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, has taken place every year since 1974 and draws hundreds of thousands of people. Even so, if past is precedent, the March for Life will receive pitiful coverage compared to the Women's March, because the reminder is inconvenient: Millions of Americans believe abortion to be a grievous moral wrong, and an overwhelming majority of Americans — including many who consider themselves "pro-choice"— nevertheless believe that there should be more restrictions on abortion than there are. (Even the socially liberal millennials are turning; a recent poll showed that 53 percent think that abortion should be illegal in "all or most circumstances.")
Those who wonder at the increasing political divide in the country, the rising levels of hostility, and the nonstop degeneration of popular culture might consider Mother Teresa's powerful speech at the National Prayer Breakfast 23 years ago, during President Bill Clinton's administration. She concluded her remarks that morning by saying, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love one another but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."
And not just love and peace, apparently, but science, logic and philosophical consistency, as well. Abortion advocates have spouted one falsehood after another to justify the practice: "It's just a clump of cells" (it isn't); "It's not really human" (it is). A number of marchers last weekend sported signs saying, "Abortion is a human right." That would be news to the small human beings whose lives are snuffed out — half of whom are female, by the way (more, if you consider abortion and infanticide across the globe. The Economist wrote in 2010 that 100 million girls had been killed. Isn't this "femicide"? Where is the feminists' outcry?).
Advances in technology, too, continue to weaken the arguments of abortion advocates. The advent of ultrasound made the humanity of the unborn child visible to all — and even converted Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who performed abortions, to the pro-life side. In-utero surgery to repair fetal defects while the children are still gestating is more and more common. Viability — the age at which a fetus can survive outside the womb — has been pushed back to as early as 22 weeks in some cases.
Those who want the law to protect life — as well as those who defend life — know we dodged a bullet when Hillary Clinton was defeated. Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocacy groups had a diehard ally in Barack Obama and would have had another in a President Hillary Clinton. It's no secret that there are those who want abortion to be "covered care" within the meaning of the Affordable Care Act. Obama laid the groundwork with his Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to pay for employees' contraception — even when doing so violated the employers' deeply held religious beliefs. Dozens of organizations sued. The Little Sisters of the Poor took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. But the issues behind these cases are far from decided, and Clinton's appointee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the Court would almost certainly have sided with pro-abortion rights activists if a similar regulation mandating abortion care were to be issued by the HHS.
President Trump — not previously known for his pro-life stances — apparently intends to keep his promise. Less than a week into his presidency, he has already signed an executive order that prevents U.S. funds from going to international aid organizations that perform or promote abortions as part of "family planning," including International Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund.
The U.S. House of Representatives also passed legislation this week that would permanently deny federal tax dollars from going to fund abortion.
And, the pro-life movement hopes, Trump's nominee to fill Scalia's seat will be someone who is receptive to religious freedom arguments in opposition to recent state laws passed in California and Illinois requiring pro-life pregnancy centers to refer patients for abortions. These laws are being challenged and may very well make it to the Supreme Court.
At the end of the day, however, the work to end abortion cannot be confined to the realm of law and public policy. Every woman facing an unplanned or difficult pregnancy needs love and support. Crisis pregnancy centers across the country know how to deliver that support, and they — not the abortion clinics — deserve every resource we can give them. Our wonderful Women's Care Centers here in Indiana proudly attest that 97 percent of the women they see who are considering abortion will choose to bring their pregnancies to term when their emotional and physical needs are met.
Changing the laws offers some breathing room. It's just the beginning. But it is real progress.