Marching Downhill for Life

“Protection for the right to life of every innocent human being in existence at fertilization, no exceptions and no compromise.”[i]

“You can’t have a little bit of abortion…life must be protected in total.”

“The only way we are going to root out the evil of abortion is with the truth, that an innocent human being is killed…”

These are the words of March for Life founder Nellie Gray spoken in an interview aired on EWTN in 1994.[ii] In the interview Gray discusses the problem of compromising by allowing exceptions in abortion legislation. She calls out those in the pro-life movement who have bought into the abortion agenda by supporting abortion in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Gray also states that because of an attitude of compromise within the pro-life movement, it has gone “downhill.”

Trump’s speech at the recent March for Life in Washington was an expression of that attitude of compromise, and is indicative of how far downhill the movement has gone despite its exuberance over Trump’s so-called “pro-life presidency.” His speech only confirmed what has been evident from the beginning of his taking office, and should give pro-life lobbyists reason to pause amid their lavishing of praise on Trump’s presidency: Trump is not pro-life.

As was evident in his speech, Trump is throwing the movement bones, perhaps more bones with more meat on them than previous Republican presidents, but he shows no signs of supporting abortion being made illegal in the United States.

He will appoint Scalia-esque[iii] judges to the Supreme Court, he will support providing less government funding for abortion, and he will bolster “religious freedom”[iv] and “conscience rights.” And if a bill banning late-term abortion ever makes its way to his desk, he will sign it.

However, Trump is like the majority of Americans in that he thinks abortion is not a good thing and should be restricted, but not be made illegal. For Trump, like most Americans, a woman’s right to choose trumps an outright ban on abortion because a) he is faithful to the American civil religion that holds liberty up as a god, and b) he is under the influence of feminism.

The most recent polling data provided by the Knights of Columbus/Marist Institute shows that most Americans are not comfortable with abortion later in pregnancy, but neither are most Americans comfortable with abortion being illegal without exceptions. Further, of those that identify themselves as “pro-life,” an incredible 13% think abortion should be legal in the earlier months of pregnancy, and 46% think abortion should be legal in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. 13% of “pro-life” individuals in America think abortion should be legal in early pregnancy. This is a serious contradiction, and shows the degree to which the pro-life message has been watered down. Only 18% of those who identify themselves as pro-life hold what should be the only pro-life position: abortion should not be allowed in any case.

The speech writers for Trump’s March for Life speech seem to have taken their cue from this confused picture of what it means to be pro-life.

Trump stated: “Americans are more and more pro-life. You see that all the time. In fact, only 12% of Americans support abortion on demand at any time.” Yes, only 12% of Americans support abortion on demand at any time, but 49% support abortion on demand in the earlier months of pregnancy, plus 30% support abortion in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

Trump’s speech honed in on two areas of concern: late term abortion and women. This reflects the strategy of the pro-life movement generally. He didn’t stray an inch from what polls say Americans support—restrictions on abortion but not doing away with legal abortion altogether—and his focus on the well-being of women ensures the appeasement of the always-angry god of feminism. In his speech he focused more on helping women than he did on saving the lives of the unborn.

After taking a stand against late term abortions, Trump’s speech turned to women and social services, after a slight detour where he boasted about how well the economy and jobs are doing under his presidency:

Over the last 15 years, Room at the Inn has provided housing, childcare, counseling, education, and job-training to more than 400 women. Even more importantly, it has given them hope. It has shown each woman she is not forgotten, that she is not alone, and that she really now has a whole family of people who will help her succeed.

That hope is the true gift of this incredible movement that brings us together today.

It is the gift of friendship, the gift of mentorship, and the gift of encouragement, love, and support. Those are beautiful words and those are beautiful gifts.

So, women being given hope of success in the world via social services is the true gift of the pro-life movement? Perhaps Trump is right and it is—but it shouldn’t be.

Trump also stated:

As you all know Roe versus Wade has resulted in some of the most permissive abortion laws anywhere in the world. For example, in the United States, it’s one of only seven countries to allow elective late-term abortions along with China North Korea and others. Right now, in a number of States, the laws allow a baby to be born from his or her mother’s womb in the ninth month.

It is wrong. It has to change.

What has to change? Only the permissiveness of the laws around late-term abortions? Abortion should be illegal at any time of pregnancy without exceptions, but this was not addressed in his speech nor has he stated it at any time of his campaign or presidency.

Recall that in the interview Trump gave to 60 minutes after he was elected he was quick to claim he was “pro-life” but backed away from condoning an abortion-free America. He said he favoured abortion laws being decided by the states, if Roe v. Wade was overturned. He seemed to envision a situation wherein abortion would be legal in some states and illegal in others. When he was asked if he was okay with women having to travel to another state to get an abortion he became uncomfortable and didn’t answer the question.

Further, Trump has repeatedly said that he is “pro-life with exceptions.” Those exceptions are “rape, incest, and if the mother is going to die…”

Trump’s pro-life messaging is only as strong as the position of the pro-life lobbyists that feed him his speeches and ideas about abortion. The weak pro-life messaging in his March for Life speech is a result of the willingness of pro-life leaders to compromise for the sake of gaining political ground. “Mr. President, are you willing to publicly state that the truth about abortion is (in Nellie Gray’s words) ‘that an innocent human being is being killed’ and that the March for Life stands for ‘Protection for the right to life of every innocent human being in existence at fertilization, no exceptions and no compromise?’ No? Sorry, we can’t work with you.” Perhaps such an attitude is politically naïve, but it is also uncompromising.

In Trump’s speech, there was one mention of the “sanctity of life,” but many mentions of the less-religious sounding “life.” “Life” is to be celebrated, protected and cherished. “Life” is sacred. “Life” is the greatest miracle of all. “Life” is a gift.  With all these mentions of “life” as well as “women” there was only one mention of “the unborn.” It is much more comfortable—for him and his audience—for Trump to talk about love and life and helping women than it is for him to state the legal killing of the unborn needs to be stopped.[v]

An obsession with optics and messaging[vi] has taken over much of the pro-life movement. It results in pleasant-sounding speeches and irreverent slogans—“Love Save Lives” was the theme of this year’s March for Life—and does little to bring the truth about abortion to bear on Washington politics.

Abortion is murder. Murder is illegal. Therefore, abortion should be illegal. Try putting this statement on the next “Americans’ Opinions on Abortion” survey and see how many Americans agree or disagree. Then we will know if America is pro-life or not.

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Despite the fact that the pro-life movement has become a well-oiled political lobbying machine with decades of experience, its leaders still aren’t able to grasp the limitations of political lobbying and the further limitation of hitching the movement to the Republican Party. The abortion mentality is a form of spiritual sickness—a nation that approves of abortion is spiritually sick. Politics cannot address a spiritual problem and spiritual sickness cannot be legislated away.

That the movement is in compromise mode and is dependent on Republican politics doesn’t bode well. The lobbyists of the pro-life movement have turned abortion into a political and partisan issue, and, not insignificantly, have distanced the movement from the Catholic Church and its teachings on sexual morality, and dropped religious-sounding messaging in favour of the language of civil rights.[vii]

And to what end has the pro-life movement employed such a strategy? The repeal of Roe v. Wade? Before Roe v. Wade, many states had passed legislation legalizing abortion with restrictions. In New York abortion on demand was legal through the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, for example. If Roe is ever repealed, the battle will hardly be over to end legal abortion.

The repeal of Roe v. Wade would be touted as a massive victory for the pro-life movement, no doubt. However, the spiritual sickness would remain.

The path to true victory begins by looking into the heart of America and the principles the country is founded upon and which have given rise to its civil religion. These are anti-Catholic principles.[viii]  Contrary to the pro-life movement’s belief that the right to life of the unborn can be found in the Declaration of Independence, these principles are not pro-life.

America is both anti-Catholic and pro-abortion; the two go hand in hand. This is the crux of the matter because the Catholic Faith is the one, true Faith and the Catholic Church is the only moral guide for man regardless of what false religion one may mistakenly profess.

In a Catholic State there would be no legal abortion and in a Catholic social order there would be no abortion mentality. Without a Catholic State everything is thrown into uncertainty, and culture, shored up only by man-made ideologies—becomes vulnerable and degenerates. The pro-abortion culture we now live in is a result of the dismantling of a Catholic social order—known as Christendom—that began at the end of the Middle Ages and was enabled by the Protestant Revolt and the French Revolution.

Only a Catholic State—where there is no religious liberty (which is really the liberty to profess error), only religious toleration—can guarantee that abortion will be illegal.

In his speech at the March for Life Trump stated, “Under my administration, we will always defend the very first right in the Declaration of Independence, and that is the ‘right to life’.” However, it is the Revolutionary[ix] and anti-Catholic ideals written into the Declaration of Independence by Deists and Freemasons[x] that must be rejected. If the pro-life movement aligns itself, as it has, with the false gods of America’s civil religion wherein the god of liberty reigns, the Social Kingship of Christ will continue to go unacknowledged and true victory will evade the movement.

Legal abortion owes its existence to an anti-Catholic social order and a people who have either strayed from, or never have submitted to the authority of the Catholic Church and the rule of Christ the King. This submission is the true antidote to the evil of abortion, and as far as it is from the minds of the strategists of the pro-life movement, it remains the truth waiting to be acknowledged.

Pope St. Pius X wrote in Notre Charge Apostolique in 1910:

We must repeat with the utmost energy in these times of social and intellectual anarchy when everyone takes it upon himself to teach as a teacher and lawmaker – the City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it; society cannot be setup unless the Church lays the foundations and supervises the work; no, civilization is not something yet to be found, nor is the New City to be built on hazy notions; it has been in existence and still is: it is Christian civilization, it is the Catholic City. It has only to be set up and restored continually against the unremitting attacks of insane dreamers, rebels and miscreants.

And, Pope Pius XI wrote in his encyclical on Christ’s Kingship, Quas Primas (1925):

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony… If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent.

No matter how absurd America as a Catholic country appears to us at this time, Christendom is the ideal that all Catholics should strive for and is not an impossibility.

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[i] The “Life Principles” that the March for Life was founded on, as stated by Nellie Gray, founder of the March: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gbtosyfMTw

[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gbtosyfMTw

[iii] Antonin Scalia said regarding abortion: in a democracy if the people want abortion the state should permit it (1996 speech at Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, as discussed in Christopher Ferrara’s Liberty: The God That Failed, 2012, Angelico Press and Thomas Storck’s From Christendom to Americanism and Beyond, Angelico Press, 2015).

[iv] Bolstering “religious freedom” only further removes us from the truth that the Catholic Church is the one true Faith, and that the State has the duty to profess this Faith.

[v] The name “March for Life” itself contains the ambiguous-sounding “life.” Interestingly, Colorado Right to Life changed the name of its march from “March for Life” to “March for Abolition” this year, stating, “We commit ourselves to becoming focused, not on ‘Celebrating Life’, which abortionists themselves find ways of doing, but on actually abolishing abortion.” See: coloradorighttolife.org.

[vi] The public relations “spin” approach often trumps a simple stating of facts in the pro-life movement. Example: The release of the latest Marist poll was spun to emphasize that the majority of Americans favour limits on abortion at the expense of a genuine discussion of the results and implications of the poll. Instead of only stating that Americans favour abortion limits, it should also be stated that they favour legal abortion early in pregnancy. That is the whole picture. Another example: An article on Life Site News about the March for Life is titled: “Trump’s historic speech to March for Life: Abortion is ‘wrong, it has to change’.” Trump did not say this. He said the situation of America’s permissive abortion laws with respect to late term abortions is wrong and needs to change. Another example of this spinning of the truth is the continual claim made by some in the pro-life movement that the early American feminists were pro-life. See the essay The Problem with Pro-Life Feminism to learn about what the early feminists really said and thought regarding abortion.

[vii] A look at how this developed can be found in Daniel Williams’ book Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-life Movement Before Roe v. Wade, 2016, Oxford University Press.

[viii] For an interesting look at anti-Catholicism in colonial America see Tradition in Action: http://www.traditioninaction.org/History/B_001_Colonies.html. Christopher Ferrara also discusses anti-Catholicism in America in his book, Liberty: The God That Failed, 2012, Angelico Press.

[ix] “Revolution” here does not refer to a specific revolutionary event but to the slow and violent sweeping away of the Christian social order, starting in the late Middle Ages. The Protestant Revolt, the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution are all specific revolutionary events that are part of the overall “Revolution.” The Revolutionary spirit is characterized by anti-Catholicism and the worship of “liberty” (a.k.a. license). Under the Revolutionary order the rights of man usurp the rights of God. See Revolution and Counter-Revolution by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira for more on this topic.

[x] For a discussion about the influence of Freemasonry and Deism on America’s founding see Christopher Ferrara’s book, Liberty: The God That Failed, 2012, Angelico Press. For example, Ferrara notes that Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were Freemasons, many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Freemasons, and that Thomas Jefferson was a Deist.