Friday, August 13, 2010

The pro-life debate: taking it to the next step

Warning: long rambling post ahead in which I think out loud.

Pro-lifers should be happy about the pro-life issue being a recurrent theme in the media.

It means that we've made a small step forward. Questioning abortion is no longer taboo.

Pro-lifers who've blogged, facebooked, twittered, and emailed have all had their hand in making noise.

But I don't want to make noise just to make noise.

I want to persuade the world that the unborn child is a human being who is deserving of legal protection.

And then I want the Canadian Parliament to pass a law recognizing ALL human beings, even those who are in the womb-- as persons, whose right to life cannot be deprived.

Effectively ending legal abortion in Canada.

In talking about the fetal rights issue in the public sphere, I see a lot of pro-lifers appeal to ideas that are shared by a broad spectrum of Canadians: for instance, that late-term abortions should not be allowed.

While I think this is a useful point to start the conversation, we can't just leave it there.

We have to start using our foothold in the media to make our point: that all human beings are equal.

We can't just be satisfied to talk about late-term abortions, or unborn victims of crime, or the fact that the government pays for abortion.

We have to push the envelope a bit.

To do this, we have to be a bit more creative.

Americans have done a bang up job on the push-back. When I consider the state of affairs that existed thirty years ago, and the state of affairs now, it's like night and day.

But notwithstanding all the wonderful things being done in the US, all the incremental laws, they still don't have significant fetal rights protection.

So just imagine what it will take to establish fetal rights in Canada.

Abortion is still largely supported by the elites. It's supported in the media. It's supported by the health system. It's supported by our economic system. And most importantly, it's supported by the legal system.

The big institutions of our respective societies still support abortion.

Grassroots work is great, and goodness knows we need more of it.

But somehow, we're going to have to make a breakthrough in the big institutions.

There just aren't a lot of rich and influential people who are pro-life, especially in Canada.

No matter how much grassroots support we get, if the elites in our country decide abortion should be legal, it will stay legal, and no amount of petitioning will change that. Lobbies and money will determine the course of our legal future.

Sometimes I think support for the pro-life cause is a little overstated. It's better than it's been, and it's better than what some of our opponents make it out to be.

But let's not view the world with rose-coloured glasses.

Most people still support legal abortion. Most people do not agree that a first trimester fetus is a human being. Most people won't say a word about the immorality of abortion, even if they THINK it's immoral.

We need to ramp up our efforts. I know that that goes without saying, but sometimes I feel like we're always stuck on the same activist routines. We need a pro-life academia. We need a pro-life cultural community. We need to make fetal rights advocacy more credible by developing our own culture around it, on every level.

I get the feeling pro-lifers think that we're all going to win this war by being the disconnected individuals that we are. Oh, I know, a number of pro-lifers are members of groups. But it's like being pro-life means ONLY doing activist things. We come together to pray at the clinic. Then we're gone. We pass on a petition. Then we don't hear from one another for six months.

Do you think that's how it's done on the left?

Lefties are constantly meeting one another. And not just to protest. They get together and make friends with one another. They do projects with one another. They yak about the philosophical ideas behind their cause.

I never see pro-lifers do that.

There's just no glue to this community. There's no togetherness. There's no sticking with each other. There's no intellectual ferment. The camraderie, while not absent, is about an inch deep. We come to the events, we chat with each other, then we leave and don't see each other until the next event.

I know some of the reason why it is, and it's evident in my own life. We're busy taking care of our families. I can't go to another event tomorrow because I have to deal with family.

I know that people say that bearing children and taking care of the family is the most pro-life thing you can do.

Important as it is for the culture of life, taking care of one's family is not going to win the political cause. Sorry. It's just not.

We have to make the struggle for the right to life a lifestyle. Not just an issue we happen to vote on and protest about.

It has to be more than just about right and wrong. This fight for the right to life has to be the very marrow of our existence. Like it's not something you just do on the side when you get a minute. There has to be a core to the pro-life community that is about friendship, connection, networking, patting each other on the back, shooting the breeze, developing ideas and so forth.

It can't just be about the rosaries and the votes.

So like your leisure time is taken up with meeting friends from the pro-life cause. And then plotting the next move. And then having the people in your life that you need to help you accomplish your next coup.

Or it's about being a student in university, and finding the profs and the staff that are supportive, and writing papers about issues that surround the right to life.

Or it's about being an enterprising youngster who starts a line of gift items based on pro-life themes, and having an eager market willing to accessorize their pro-life lifestyle.

The pro-life cause in Canada as I see it, is just so uni-dimensional, almost afraid to take chances on doing something different.

Writing, socializing, selling, buying, these things are not distractions from the cause. These are the things that will bring glue to the cause.

And it's by building up our community that we'll be able to challenge the elites institutions. We'll support our own lawyers, our own doctors, our own businesspeople, our own artists.

I KNOW this is what we need. But I don't think the pro-life community gets it yet, or really wants to do anything about it.

We're not going to win unless we do all this stuff, folks. Learn that lesson and learn that lesson well. If we stay stuck on voting pro-life every election or praying at the clinic, fetal rights will just not happen. Those are all good things-- please don't get me wrong. What we've been doing so far have been necessary steps. We have to crawl before we can run.

But I'm in this to win. I don't want to stay at the crawling stage forever.