I’m a bridge. I may do it well, or I may do it poorly – but I’m a bridge. I’m a bridge between the left and the right of a church that should be united. That is, I am a social justice advocate and I am a pro-lifer, and so I am a bridge between the two. I try, consciously and deliberately, to be a visible and useful bridge, albeit flawed.
This is not history, nor biography, nor an argument. It’s an apologia: I try to explain myself.
This is not an explanation offered to fellow Democrats about why I’m a pro-lifer; I’ve done that elsewhere. (See, for example, Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act, Our Response.) This is addressed to fellow pro-lifers, explaining why I’m a Democrat.
A large number of my old friends think I’m a traitor. I’ve had two friends get so mad when they denounced my treachery that they foamed at the mouth, with several teaspoons of fluffy white spit leaking out the corners of their mouths, oozing down and dripping off their chins. It was an interesting experience – a little uncomfortable but still fascinating. I had heard of this thing before and seen it in comedies; but there it was, right in front of me. It’s good that they were shouting, or I would have been completely distracted by the visual presentation, and lost track of what they were saying.
What bubbled out was that I’m a traitor to the pro-life movement. Hm. I’ve been speaking up for the unborn since 1972, getting on towards half a century. If I’m a traitor, that’s actually a pretty impressive bit of traiting. But I plead innocent.
The evidence against me is generally pretty clear: I’m a Democrat. There are other details: I’m pro-union, and I support civil rights, and I like to find common ground, and I prize civility. But the key charge against me is simple: I’m a Democrat. And that’s a fact.
I wonder if we can talk about this. I’m not sure we can: I was impressed by the foam! But I’d like to try.
I think of myself as a pro-lifer. In fact, I think of myself as a pro-life leader. Even more, I think I see a way forward when most of the pro-life leaders I know – many of them friends over the past decades – are stuck, mired, lost – setting their sights lower and lower each year.
The pro-life movement should grow, not shrink. When pro-lifers denounce Democrats and liberals and lefties and such, that’s a lot of people to lose, and it doesn’t help save babies. This angry division does have some effects: (1) it strengthens Planned Parenthood, and (2) it helps the Republican Party. But how can anyone ever think that division and rejection are good for the pro-life movement?
Let me try to shift the conversation a bit. Let me give you 50 short insights into my thinking, 50 anecdotes or observations. Each of them should stand on its own, complete and independent. Added together, I think they offer a clear and convincing argument, but let’s go through them one small bite at a time.
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