At the beginning of the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey stood on a snow covered bridge preparing to jump into the icy river below. He was going to kill himself after concluding that he had made a mess of things and that his life had counted for nothing. Then, at the height of his despair, he was visited by an angel who showed him what the world would have been like had he never lived. In the end, George had come to see that he was allowing his life to be defined by its failures.
There is a valuable lesson in that for the pro-life movement.
We recently observed the 37th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and I sometimes get the feeling that our self-doubt and sense of failure has grown with each of those years. While we certainly don’t question the rightness of our cause, the enormity of the challenges it presents makes us doubt that our blood, sweat and tears are even making a difference much less leading us to victory. This attitude seems to be reinforced when you recognize that, for all our efforts, we have not returned legal protection to one baby in one state. On the surface, it would seem that all we’ve really done is minimally regulate the circumstances under which they are killed.
While that analysis may be technically accurate, it paints a picture that does not reveal the whole story. Although few, if any, would call me an angel, I want to show you – my brothers and sisters in this struggle – what our little corner of the world would be like if you had not done what you have done.
When I started Life Dynamics in 1992, there were over 2100 free-standing abortion clinics in America. Today, there are fewer than 750 and those that remain continue to close. But be assured, if the pro-life movement had never existed, there could easily be one in every mall and strip shopping center in the country.
Now if you think the idea of mall-based abortion franchises is too crass even by Planned Parenthood’s standards, you don’t know much about Planned Parenthood. In reality, this is precisely the kind of thing they would do if they could get away with it. You might also be tempted to think that the American people would not tolerate something this outrageous. If so, I remind you that, fifty years ago, those same people would have labeled you insane if you had predicted that they would soon be driving past free-standing abortion businesses with toll-free numbers, Yellow Page ads and credit-card decals on the front door. And they would have hauled you away to some asylum if you had predicted that it would be perfectly legal for these people to offer late-term abortions on viable healthy babies being carried by healthy moms. It’s also likely that they would have shot you on the spot if you had suggested that it would be legal for 12-year-old girls to be taken to these places and aborted without their parent’s knowledge.
The point is, if you consider that these things happened in a country with a vibrant pro-life movement, it’s not farfetched to imagine abortion franchises in the malls of a country with no pro-life movement. In that environment, we could also expect to see the abortion pill, RU-486, hanging in bubble packs at every convenience store. Obviously, they’d be the perfect companion to the large variety of condoms and “personal lubricants” that are hanging there right now.
If the pro-life movement had never existed … it is almost guaranteed that every public school and university in America would either have an on-site abortion clinic or a contract with a nearby abortionist.
If the pro-life movement had never existed … there would be no debate about paying for abortion in national health care. Instead, the government would have been funding them since day one. In addition, the right-to-life of the unborn would not even be discussed in either the public arena or the political process. But due to your efforts, poll after poll is now documenting a dramatic shift toward the pro-life position – especially among the young.
If the pro-life movement had never existed … we would not see the faces of children with diseases like Down syndrome – not because these maladies had been cured but because abortion would have long ago become the accepted medical “treatment” for every imperfect baby. After all, killing people is cheaper than healing them and easier than accommodating them.
If the pro-life movement had never existed … there would be no crisis pregnancy network to help those women who might not want to submit to abortion. That’s because, without your voices, abortion would be the default position for every unplanned pregnancy. Without you, we would have devolved into a nation where the killing of an unborn child has no more moral significance than the pulling of a tooth. That is what Ronald Reagan was saying when he referred to the pro-life movement as “The Conscience of the Nation.”
The list goes on and on and, if you think I am exaggerating about these things, let me introduce something you may not have considered.
In the early 1920s, the Soviet Union became the first country in the world to legalize abortion. Many years later, several studies were conducted to determine how that decision was playing out. To say the least, the findings were stunning.
One published study discovered that the average Soviet woman would have nine abortions during her child-bearing years. Other research documented that 90 percent of all first pregnancies in the Soviet Union and 60 percent of all subsequent pregnancies were legally aborted. It is also known that, of the remaining pregnancies, many of them ended in illegal or unreported abortions. The result was that, according to one American researcher, in some parts of the Soviet Union women underwent as many as 28 abortions.
Today, the Russian government is saying that the health consequences of this have been “catastrophic” for that nation’s women. Additionally, economists are predicting that the demographic realities brought on by Russia’s shrinking population will soon cause an economic meltdown. In fact, some demographers are saying that this collapse has already begun.
The Soviet experience with abortion is a prototype for what happens in a country where the abortion lobby is allowed to operate without opposition and, therefore, without restraint. Make no mistake, had it not been for the American pro-life movement, what happened in Russia would have been duplicated in every state of the union. In that case, we would not now be standing on the graves of 50 million dead babies; we would be standing one the graves of 150 million or 250 million or … God only knows how many. Think about that the next time you start to wonder what your blood, sweat and tears have bought.
As we go forward, it is important to never forget that this is not a war between the pro-aborts and us. It is a war between the pro-aborts and the unborn. You and I are merely soldiers who volunteered to fight on the side of the unborn. This means that, without the pro-life movement, these babies would be left alone to defend themselves against these remorseless cowards and amoral barbarians.
But that has not happened and it never will. Although it is true that we have made mistakes and will make some more, the most important truth is that we will never turn our backs on the unborn. We all know that there have been times in the last 37 years when it would have been easy to walk away. It is no secret that, since the day this battle began, the abortion lobby has had every advantage they needed to wipe us out. They’ve had boxcars full of money, they’ve literally owned the media and they’ve had a stranglehold on the political process, the judicial system, the academic community, Hollywood, the music industry and most of what’s seen on television.
Yet despite all that, we didn’t walk away. Instead, we’re still standing and stronger than ever. That’s because we have always sent a clear and unmistakable message that whatever sacrifice must be made, we will make; whatever burden must be borne, we will bear; and whatever obstacle must be overcome, we will overcome. We do this because it is what God expects of us. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against us – and if abortion is not a gate into hell, then hell does not exist.
So you and I will continue to do our duty and we will continue to trust God to deliver the victory. Until that day comes, whatever our role in this cause, we will not allow Satan to rub our noses in our failures. We will be proud of our past, focused on the battle in front of us and resolute about the future. And we will leave the snow covered bridges to our enemies.