Strategy: a plan of action designed to achieve an overarching goal
Tactics: specific steps designed to achieve specific goals, usually interim goals
Tactics without strategy is just noise before defeat.
The bull snorted. “Look at that fool with his red flag! Doesn’t he know what I can do? I’m gonna rip everything into tiny bits!” The cow watched and chewed some more. This looked familiar, but it didn’t look good.
The pro-life movement is operating without a coherent strategy. Most pro-life leaders are fixated on an interim goal, reversing Roe v Wade, without any plan for what comes next. Their tactics are not attached to a long-term strategy – and are, in fact, disruptive and destructive of any long-term strategy.
With foaming mouths and red-eyed rage, most pro-life Republican leaders insist on looking just one step ahead.
I don’t know why this is hard to grasp: a coherent strategy must look ahead. And looking ahead, it must be:
· international, not limited to 5% of those in danger
· nonviolent, aiming for peace between generations
· organized to grow not shrink, build bridges not walls
· respectful of the oldest and wisest leaders and allies – that is, the Catholic Church
· responsive to the Gospel
· unswervingly committed to an alliance with mothers and prospective mothers
· peaceful and protective, not militaristic and dominating.
Chapter 1: Who Needs Strategy?
nine brief insights
About Vision (#1) 11
Current pro-life “strategy” is nonsense (#2
Dump the Dems, Dump the Nation (#3)
Movement by movement, state by state (#4)
“Decruiting” Obvious Allies (#5)
Single Issue Silliness (#6)
Make Gestures, or Changes? (#7)
Corrupting Even Pregnancy Aid (#8)
Consistent ethic of hospitality (#9)
The pro-life movement in the United States, as it developed after the Supreme Court decisions in 1973, had three main branches: (1) pregnancy aid or help for women and couples facing an unplanned pregnancy, (2) education, and (3) political and legislative (and judicial) efforts to restore legal protection for unborn children. Since the 1970s, I have argued that a fourth branch is necessary – not as a minor addition, but as the heart of the whole movement. That fourth branch is nonviolent direct action, which was later called the “rescue” movement. These ideas are set out in Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act, Our Response.
I have also argued that the educational work of the pro-life movement is misguided. A key problem is that we have misunderstood our opposition almost completely, for decades. The opposite of a pro-life position is not a pro-choice position; it is, rather, eugenics. Pro-lifers have argued that life begins at conception, and demanded that “pro-choicers” explain when they think life begins. That question makes sense to pro-lifers, but does not make sense to a huge portion of the world. If you accept that the question makes sense, then the pro-life answer also makes sense. But if you believe that life is a continuum, then there’s no clear “beginning.”
This total misunderstanding of our opposition, going back decades, suggests that we haven’t been listening. We have taken a reasonable position, and repeated it over and over. It is a reasonable position – but it’s based on assumptions that the rest of the world doesn’t share. So our position, however reasonable it is, remains completely irrelevant to many people – who have long since abandoned any effort to engage in serious dialogue with us, because they think that we are incurably narrow-minded and dogmatic. It’s impossible to carry on a dialogue with people who refuse to listen. These ideas are set out in Roots of Racism and Abortion: An Exploration of Eugenics.
I argue also that the political approach of the pro-life movement has been misguided. Just as our educational approach has been narrow and insulated from contact with real challenges, so also our politics has been narrow, based on purity and not outreach. We have worked with like-minded people, and denounced people with other views. This habit has reduced us bit by bit, and now most pro-lifers are content to seek a mere affirmation of slogans, without much subtlety. This has made it possible – in fact, easy – for unscrupulous demagogues to manipulate us.
And indeed demagogues found us out. In the 1960s, Republican strategists discussed how to respond to the ideas embraced and taught by the Second Vatican Council, the whole “Social Gospel.” The challenge was that the Democratic Party seemed to be in tune with the Council in many ways, seemed to be the obvious vehicle for those who wanted to press forward toward peace and justice. To avoid watching the whole Catholic Church move as a block into the Democratic Party, Pat Buchanan – an early and prominent advisor to President Richard Nixon – urged that the Republicans respond to this existential threat by focusing on abortion. If the Republicans had a monopoly on the pro-life movement, that would answer the Democrats’ appeal as the voice for peace and justice. Buchanan was prepared to split the Catholic Church in order to rescue Nixon’s party.
It is my view that the pro-life movement must be rebuilt, from scratch. It must be based squarely on a solid foundation of nonviolent action. It must understand and respond to eugenics, and stop fussing about feminism. It must set out to grow, building alliances and coalitions that are as broad as possible, not as pure (and narrow) as possible.
I understand that these positions of mine make me a pariah in the Republican-dominated pro-life movement. But I have a vision of a pro-life future, and a strategy for getting there. Do you?
It baffles me, listening to intelligent pro-life leaders explaining what we need to do. Almost all the time, they assume without explaining that reversing Roe v. Wade will end abortion. But will it? Asking people to examine this assumption is like attacking Scripture or explaining the flat earth or banning chocolate. Many pro-lifers just can’t face the question.
We have to face it. Erasing Roe v. Wade is likely to save some lives; but it’s possible that it won’t save a single life. Reversing Roe doesn’t provide legal protection of children; it just sends the question back to the states. Some states will enact protective laws immediately. But some won’t – not in the foreseeable future, and not without the help of a reformed Democratic Party. If Roe disappears, anyone anywhere in the country who wants an abortion can still get one, but it may require more travel time, which may be a nuisance and may mean extra expenses.
The semi-strategy that grips the minds of most pro-life national leaders is another cheap solution. And like all cheap solutions to social evils, it will fail.
Some states are not clearly pro-life, nor clearly pro-choice. The fight in those states won’t be about ending abortion; it will be about making abortion inconvenient. How far must a woman travel to get to an abortion clinic?
It is possible that abortion in the middle of the country will be seriously inconvenient, that women or couples between the Mississippi and the Rockies will have to figure out how to get to Denver for an abortion. Women in west Texas or North Dakota seeking abortion will face serious new obstacles – a long day’s drive in each direction, plus lodging for a couple of nights.
That, friends, is the sum total of the current goal of the pro-life movement, stated honestly. That’s not protection for children. It’s little more than bragging rights (among pro-lifers) for the states that make abortion inconvenient. But it’s not protection.
Tell me if I’m wrong.
Tell me what prominent pro-life leader is talking about the difference between protecting babies and reversing Roe v. Wade. Name the pro-life leader who is talking about how to protect children nationwide, after Roe disappears.
There are some people urging Trump to assume dictatorial powers, and just issue a proclamation protecting the unborn. I can’t take this seriously; it’s just fantasy. The United States has ways to change laws, but that’s not one of them.
The current “strategy,” if we can call such a short-sighted effort a strategy, is to get rid of Roe. To do that, the pro-life movement is determined – is desperate! – to get pro-lifers on the Supreme Court. I hear that part. I understand it. But then what?
I say that there’s a real strategy available. Its solid foundation is a campaign of nonviolence. The scope is global. We should not contract into a small group of conservative Republicans; we should expand deliberately and proactively, aiming to include all people of goodwill, especially people in other movements of social justice.
If you demonize and alienate all the Democrats in the country in order to get your pro-life Supreme Court, what’s your next step? You haven’t ended abortion, and you have absolutely no chance of passing protective laws in 15 states. You have erected new barriers to growing the movement, and now you are stopped dead, far far short of real protection.
And that’s the current dreamy thing, kind of a semi-strategy, lodged firmly in the back of the minds of most pro-life leaders.
The simplest criticism of a pro-life Democrat is the judgment that it seems impossible – or almost impossible – to persuade the Democratic Party to return to its former pro-life stance. And if the party can’t be changed, then a Democrat who remains in the party is choosing freely to stay with a pro-abortion organization. Right?
That sounds sensible.
However, isn’t is also clear and obvious that persuading the nation to return to its former pro-life stance also seems impossible, or almost impossible? Aren’t the challenges involved in persuading Democrats to adopt a pro-life stance similar to the challenges involved in persuading the nation to do so?
Actually, no. They aren’t “similar.” They’re the same.
If you say that it’s impossible to change the Democratic Party, that includes another assertion. You are saying that it’s impossible to change the country, that we will always step aside when children are in danger. You are announcing your opinion that the pro-life movement has failed permanently.
Unlike you, I fully intend to work towards a pro-life nation (and world). I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime, but I haven’t given up. You have – and you demand that I give up too. You don’t think the pro-life movement can succeed, and then you have the gall to denounce me as a traitor because I haven’t given up. That strikes me as a little weird.
A single party can tinker with the law and make temporary changes. But to make a deep and permanent changes, we need to get other major parties on board. This is not a complicated idea.
Right now (in 2020), many pro-life leaders are hopeful about changes that the Supreme Court might make. For years, almost the entire pro-life movement has been focused sharply on a single goal: change the Supreme Court so we can reverse Roe v. Wade. That goal seems to closer and closer. And (say some) that goal can be – indeed, has been, almost! – achieved by one party, the Republican Party.
The two Justices appointed by President Trump assured various Senators that they would respect the principle of “stare decisis,” the idea that past decisions of the Court should not be reversed carelessly, especially if they have been quoted extensively in other decisions. Maybe the two men were equivocating, or maybe they have changed their minds. Maybe they will vote to reverse Roe v. Wade. But suppose they do? So what? Will that save one child, help one mother, bring peace to one family? Maybe, maybe not.
Reversing Roe isn’t the same as protecting a child. Assume there’s a reversal; what then? A reversal will send the matter back to the states. It’s likely that most states will pass laws to protect children – most, but not all. If 15 states scattered across the nation opt to consider abortion to be a right, then any woman or couple in the country who wants an abortion can still get one. They may have to travel a bit; it may take some hours longer; it might be a little more expensive. But abortion will remain available, throughout the country, for anyone.
That’s victory? Are you kidding?
If you want to do better than that, you need a national change, and changing the Democratic Party is a detail. But if you’ve given up on the Democrats, you have given up completely.
And: NO, I will not join you in your despair.
The unexamined assumptions of the pro-life movement today include that the key to the struggle is political, involving national and state politics. I reject that assumption: I think politics – that is, electoral politics and legislative or judicial changes – is secondary (or third or fourth). But when we do look at politics, I’m not on the same page. Why national, not global? And even when we set aside global issues and look only at national politics, I’m still not on the same page as most pro-lifers. National politics is shaped by what happens state by state, but also by what happens movement by movement.
If you want to change a nation, you can struggle to elect the right people, state by state. That’s not stupid – but it’s not the only way forward, and it’s not necessarily the best way forward. For example, if you had to make a choice – that is, you had to decide where to allocate money and time – would you rather win Illinois or the labor movement? Would you rather win California or the feminist movement? Texas or the peace movement? New England or immigrants? It does make sense to think about how to win state by state, but it also makes sense to think about how to move forward movement by movement.
Take Eagle Forum, for example. When I was working full-time to build pro-life nonviolent action, Eagle Forum came after me. Around 1980, the Pennsylvania chapter gave uncomplimentary awards to Juli Loesch and me. I forget the details, but one of us got the Benedict Arnold Award, and the other got something like the Judas Award. They didn’t like us. Why not? We were solidly and undeniably pro-life! The problem was, Eagle Forum was pro-life – but was also involved in fights about feminism and nuclear weapons. I worked loudly and proudly with people on both sides of those national debates – but my own view was clear. I thought (and think) that sexism was an evil that was eroding away in our time (as Pope John XXIII said in Pacem in Terris); I considered myself a pro-life feminist. And I thought (and think) that nuclear weapons could not be used with “discrimination” (avoiding civilian deaths) and – following Vatican II – that the indiscriminate destruction of civilian populations was a crime meriting unequivocal condemnation. So my views on peace and justice were a challenge to Eagle Forum. But not to the pro-life movement!
Eagle Forum worked hard to get rid of the peace activists and feminists in the pro-life movement. Who was helped by that?
Cooperation was and still is possible. I started pro-life sit-ins (later called rescues) in New England. Our first action was at Planned Parenthood in Norwich. Around the same time, I was also arrested at Electric Boat in Groton, CT, protesting the construction of nuclear subs. But much of the preparation for the sit-in at Planned Parenthood – weekly meetings to pray and reflect on Isaiah’s “songs of the suffering servant” – were in the kitchen of an engineer who worked at Electric Boat. So I was arrested at his work site, but he and I were able to cooperate in planning a sit-in at Planned Parenthood.
The pro-life movement can and must – and once did – bridge gaps. We need veterans and peace activists. We need feminists and traditionalists. We need environmentalists and industrialists. Writing off one movement after another was a disastrous mistake.
To expand, the pro-life movement must break free of the stranglehold of any narrow partisan who wants to coopt us – in this case, the Republican right.
One of the dumbest blunders in American history is unfolding now. The pro-life movement, in desperate need of allies, is deliberately alienating 40 million potential allies. What great strategic plan includes such lunacy?
To me, it seems obvious that a determined movement with a serious mission will work to expand, not shrink. To protect children (in the USA for a start, but then the world), we need to build a solid social consensus that life begins at the beginning, not in the middle. But most pro-life leaders today are intent on a specific political strategy – to protect the unborn, we have to change the law, and the only way to do that is to change the courts, and the fastest way to do that is through a determined and muscular Republican majority. So pro-lifers must join the GOP, and then make sure the party is uncompromising.
That’s not pure crazy, but it’s close. It’s ignorant and un-democratic. It’s ignorant: this strategy – change a massive entrenched social evil by education leading to legislation – has no precedent in history, which suggests strongly that it’s impossible. But also, it’s un-democratic, and I want to focus on that for a moment.
Decisions in a dictatorship don’t require persuasion and cooperation and coalition-building, but decisions in a democracy do. Our nation is based on ideas about equality and human rights – and liberty. We don’t believe that the legitimate power to govern is delegated by God to a king. We are committed to the idea that the authority of a government, to be legitimate, must be based on the will of the governed. To make a deep and permanent change in the law, ending a massive and deeply entrenched evil, we need a campaign of nonviolence that changes hearts and minds: that’s first, logically and chronologically. Then, in a democracy, we persuade and cajole and build coalitions based on respect and cooperation. That’s how democracy works.
It seems to me that pro-lifers have lost track of this idea that is basic to American history.
If we are going to work within a democracy, we need to expand. And indeed, it seems to me, we have an obvious opportunity that we must seize, not discard. The culture of Latin America is changing, but it is not yet as thoroughly pro-abortion as our culture. And Muslim society is under systematic pressure from eugenicists promoting abortion, but Muslims – in general, globally – are not as likely to promote abortion as post-Christian Westerners. So it would make sense to work carefully and deliberately to recruit immigrants. We have about 40 million potential allies in each generation of immigrants. Do we want their help?
It is stupendously stupid to ally ourselves with xenophobes! We are not just neglecting a massive opportunity to recruit; we are, as a movement, working hard to de-cruite! We are allied with people who want immigrants to stop coming here! In fact, we are combing the country for millions of people – our natural allies! – to send away!
Like King Canute, xenophobes work to reverse an unstoppable tide. That’s stupid and destructive. But also, from a sharply focused pro-life perspective – neglecting the God-given right to migrate and focusing only on how to expand the pro-life movement – we are engaged in an effort to deport our allies.
We might as well erect billboards at the border: “Pro-lifers, we hate your guts! Go away!” That is our message to the children of Guadalupe – who are pro-life until we decruit them.
Why do pro-lifers do this?
For decades, most pro-lifers have fended off the approach taken by the Catholic Church to abortion. That is, most pro-life leaders have avoided requests for consistency – and have denounced the “seamless garment” approach. Pro-lifers have said that we are and we must be “single issue.” I think this has been a grave strategic mistake. But more simply, I think it’s nonsense: the pro-life movement has never been a single-issue movement. From the beginning, the pro-life movement has always addressed multiple issues.
The pro-life movement in the 1970s had a manual that covered a lot of ground fast – what conception and embryonic and fetal growth look like, what the different methods of abortion look like, and a list of associated questions. This pocket-size manual, Jack Willke’s Abortion Handbook, the principal teaching tool of the movement for a decade or two – and it covered abortion and euthanasia. It was principally about abortion, but the decision to include euthanasia helped to make clear that we were “pro-life” and not just “anti-abortion.” The movement insisted that we fought to protect humans from “conception until a natural death.” Abortion and euthanasia: that’s two different issues. That’s not multi-issue, but it’s not single-issue either. The major national organization, National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), used Willke’s handbook, and his approach. So did the first large splinter group, American Life Lobby (later American Life League).
There was an influential organization in Minnesota that took a somewhat different approach. The Human Life Center emphasized that Planned Parenthood had moved from advocating contraception and criticizing abortion to advocating both without much fuss and bother. They emphasized that abortion is rooted in an attitude toward human sexuality. They argued that if you accept that sexual activity is private matter, and that its meaning is up for grabs. If sex and birth drift apart in theory and in practice, with sex for fun and IVF for babies – and if we accept an apparent commonsense proposal that good fun can’t cause great damage – then abortion follows. This approach was common – not as common as the NRLC approach, but not rare – and it was even less single-issue.
The Eagle Forum was a well funded and well organized member of a conservative coalition – and it was a major anti-abortion organization. But recall: they were anti-abortion, anti-feminist, and pro-nuke. And their conservative coalition is still visible and vibrant, although it’s changed a smidgeon: now it’s anti-abortion plus anti-gay and pro-gun.
Pro-life liberal coalitions didn’t thrive. Rev. Jesse Jackson, before he turned pro-choice, said that the mentality of slavery and the mentality of abortion are the same: treating a person as a thing. It was an interesting argument, but it remained just a debater’s argument, and never became a coalition. (Ask Jesse why not.)
Similarly, many pro-lifers compared abortion to the Holocaust, for two reasons. First, abortion involves killing huge numbers of people while society looks on and refrains from interfering. And second, abortion produces corpses that end up in the waste stream, or in labs, or in crematoria. The cremation of millions of innocent victims looks like a holocaust. However, many Jewish leaders expressed opposition to this linkage, and it never became a coalition.
In the early 1980s, Juli Loesch championed a “consistent” life approach, embodied in the organization she founded, Prolifers for Survival. Her idea was embraced by Cardinal Bernardin, who spoke about a “seamless garment.” And now the idea is carried forward by the Consistent Life Network.
Conservatives promote a single-issue approach when they want leftwingers to go away. But the movement has never been single-issue. Never.
When I worked with Human Life International, one of the hard lessons I learned was about how many “pro-life” leaders were intent on changing laws, just laws, without any regard for actual practice. In Mexico, for example, abortion was illegal, but was also advertised openly in the Paginas Amarillas, the Yellow Pages. So what did pro-life leaders want? Enforcement? Nonviolent direct action? No, no, no. Pro-life leaders, in general, were content to protect their toothless, meaningless, hypocritical laws.
Faced with a slaughter, do pro-lifers want to make gestures, or make changes? That is, do we want to wave a flag and talk to each other? Or do we want to engage with our fellow citizens and work to change minds and hearts?
One of the clearest examples of this choice was when the Me Too campaign got underway. It was not a pro-life initiative, but it did get at the some of the roots of the abortion movement, and pro-lifers should have supported it. The abuse of women is among the most powerful forces pushing towards abortion. Me Too challenged that force. Where were we?
Pro-life leaders often support chastity education, pushing back against the idea that sex is natural and delightful and everybody should play, struggling to re-assert an ancient idea that sex is related, somehow or other, to babies, and therefore probably belongs within the context of conscious and future-oriented commitment. Great ideas! But can we do it?
When John Paul II was Pope, I read his weekly meditations that became the basis of his “theology of the body,” and I thought it was all brilliant. And I accept the teaching of Gandhi, that peacemaking requires self-control – in his words, that “brahmacharya” (chastity) is indispensable in a campaign of “satyagraha” (nonviolence). Gandhi was not a flower child. But how do we get from here to there? In post-Christian America and Europe, nonproductive sexual activity is deeply rooted and flourishing, like kudzu. And in many countries – including Saudi Arabia and India, recently prominent examples – there’s a rape culture. It’s daunting.
The Me Too campaign stood up against that rape culture. It challenged male domination and sexual oppression, and made a real impact. India is visibly changed, and even the Saudis have taken notice of the global changes that are underway. Sure, I’d like to do more: Me Too is about consent, not chastity; it has nothing to say about consensual extramarital sex. But from a pro-life and pro-family perspective, it is such a huge step forward! Where were we?
Pro-lifers who have spent time outside abortion clinics have seen coercive abortion unfolding. A car pulls up, an angry guy gets out and grabs a crying woman, and pulls her along. You hear the shouts: “We arready talked about this and we’re gonna get it done now, goddammit.” This doesn’t happen every Saturday morning at every clinic, but it’s common. Sometimes a pro-life agenda and pro-choice agenda flow together: if the woman can choose, the child can live.
The whole Me Too campaign was about freedom from such oppression.
Where were we?
Is it true that the Republican Party is pro-life and the Democratic Party is pro-abortion? I say no, that’s nonsense. Look at pregnancy aid.
The healthiest part of the pro-life movement is pregnancy aid – thousands of volunteers offering their time, their cash, their homes, their everything-they-got, to help women and couples facing an unplanned and for now unwelcome pregnancy. I admire these folks, immensely. However, even this healthiest part of the movement is undercut by the pro-life movement’s links to Trump and his savage opposition to immigration.
Around the world in 2020, there are 65 to 70 million people on the road, fleeing from war or gang violence or rape or starvation. These refugees and stateless persons and homeless migrants are not welcome in the USA. Before Trump, about two million people came into the country annually, half with legal documents and half without. Trump has worked hard to bring that number way down – fighting “illegal” immigration, and reducing legal migration by half, and even trimming our welcome for refugees – refugees, for God’s sake! – to a few thousand annually. Amidst the worst refugee crisis since World War II, the wealthiest continent has refused to participate in building and maintaining safe havens.
There’s a detail in the refugee crisis that is significant to the pro-life movement: that 65 million refugees includes about a million pregnant women. So there are a million pregnant refugees: need they say more to be considered women facing crisis pregnancies? These million women in crisis pregnancies are not welcome within several thousand miles of a proud American crisis pregnancy center. And what do American pro-lifers have to say about this scandal? Nothing. Our crisis pregnancy centers are for Americans, not for foreigners. With eyes wide open, American pro-lifers turn away a million pregnant women carrying a million babies, in crisis.
How can you help them? Not all want to go to America, believe it or not. But some do, from Latin America, and they show up at our southern border. They don’t need diapers; they need advocates who will help them get across the border and out to family or friends or employers. To put this another way: if you support Trump’s decisions about Latinos coming north – a blanket ban instead of screening that lets pregnant moms into the country – you oppose pregnancy aid.
Millions of refugees are stuck in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and elsewhere. You can support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They aren’t anti-abortion, but they will help women in crisis. To put that another way: if you are so paranoid about Socialism that you think the UN is demonic and you won’t cooperate with the UNHCR, you oppose pregnancy aid.
Do you want to help pregnant moms in Africa? Support Catholic Relief Services. To put that another way: if you are paranoid about CRS, you oppose pregnancy aid.
Do you want to help moms in concentration camps in China and North Korea? Nancy Pelosi, not Trump, has had her eye on forced abortion for 30 years. It’s hard to pressure those brutal governments, but it’s possible, and it has been done. By Pelosi. In other words, if you refuse to cooperate with Pelosi, you oppose pregnancy aid.
I understand that what I’m saying isn’t popular among pro-lifers. But when you look at the plight of pregnant refugees honestly, it seems that the pro-life movement has abandoned its mission, even the clearest and purest part of its mission – pregnancy aid.
It used to be clear for pro-lifers: if there’s a pregnant mom and an unborn child in danger, drop everything and help. Nothing matters more. But now, there’s a higher priority. Mother and child in danger? Um, are they refugees? Then walk away.
I’ve been working since 2012 to link abortion and immigration. I was startled when I saw the huge gap between what Scripture and the Catholic tradition say about hospitality, on one hand, and what people think about it on the other. It seems to me that most people consider hospitality to be a decoration, like flowers on the table, not a matter of immense and eternal significance, like justice and truth. There are many links between them.
First, and most obviously, the next generation in the USA (or anywhere) will come from births and immigration. To shape the future of a society, you want to control these two sources of new life. And so the eugenics movement, a conscious effort to construct a new and improved human race, set out to control both as well as possible. Restricting immigration and expanding abortion are major accomplishments of the eugenics movement.
Second, the eugenics movement in the 1920s launched three major initiatives:
· sterilizing the “feeble-minded,”
· outlawing “miscegenation” (marriage between people of different ethnic backgrounds), and
· restricting immigration.
Then in the 1960s, members of eugenics societies in Britain and the USA launched – and led, funded, housed, and promoted – the abortion movement.
Both immigration restrictions and abortion are about hospitality to people who show up in our lives on their schedules, not ours, capable of altering our lives substantially even if inadvertently. On one hand are the unknown un-named unborn, and on the other are the undocumented unwashed displaced.
Third, it is almost impossible to construct an argument for restricting immigration that isn’t also an argument for global population control. And global depopulation schemes include forced abortion. In other words, restricting immigration in the USA – the global haven for refugees for the past several centuries – leads to more abortion overseas. Reports of increased miscarriages among pregnant women being held for deportation are horrifying in themselves; but they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Fourth, both abortion and restricting immigration are ways to turn away from the creative initiatives of the Lord, who always cherishes us but also, almost always, challenges us. When the uncomfortable Other shows up in our lives, we are invited to meet God. In the carefully repeated words of Jesus, “Whatsoever you do for the least of my people, you do for me.” In Scripture, when angels show up, they always say, “Do not be afraid,” because people are always scared. These words apply when any celestial messenger – or baby, or stranger – shows up. We are always startled, puzzled, worried, afraid – always. And the Lord asks us to trust him – always.
Fifth, many pro-lifers find a call to care for the unborn and for worried or disturbed or reluctant mothers in the words about care for widows and orphans throughout Scripture and history. But in the Old Testament, we don’t find just a pair, widows and orphans. Almost every reference to this pair includes a third; it’s a trio, not a pair. Of the 21 references to widows and orphans in the Bible, 18 refer to widows and orphans and strangers. The Lord demands that we intervene to help (1) mothers without supportive husbands, and (2) children without caring parents – and also (3) anyone without a home, without a supportive society.
Immigrants and babies change our lives – but the changes, on balance, are joyful and delightful and enriching and wonderful, now and forever.