For those who have fought in the trenches against Roe v. Wade for decades, it is surprising to see a little white flag poking up on the horizon. So much has been poured into the herculean effort to take that bloody hill—prayers, sacrifice, one on one counseling to dissuade those seeking an abortion. Everyone said it was hopeless to struggle against legalized abortion. But now, some feminists are raising the white flag. They are admitting defeat and saying it is time to give up on Roe v. Wade.
There is no question that it’s a significant battle to win, even if the war continues raging. Considering what Roe v. Wade means to the American and worldwide left, however, the news is encouraging to those who defend life—and devastating to those who don’t.
A Painful and Reluctant Surrender
In an op-ed in The New York Times, University of California law professor Joan C. Williams makes a rare concession of failure from the pro-abortion side. She says that “the left has already lost the abortion fight reflects the fact that there’s no abortion clinic in 90 percent of American counties. This is the result of the highly successful death-by-a-thousand-cuts anti-abortion strategy, which has piled on restriction after restriction to make abortion inaccessible.”
The author admits that sacrificing Roe would be a painful and reluctant surrender. It remains to be seen if the left will actually concede. However, this admission of defeat lets the pro-life side see the dire straits inside the Roegarrison trapped on the hill.
Regardless of the outcome, the left is looking to salvage what it can, and think beyond Roe. Pro-lifers need to do the same by following up on their “highly successful” past offensives with new strategies—and new victories.
The Left’s Reasons for Accepting Defeat
The logic behind Prof. Williams’ op-ed is that not only has the abortion issue frustrated the left, but it has also energized the right. The conservative coalitions’ paths to victory over the decades have coalesced around the abortion issue. The presidential elections and Supreme Court justice picks increasingly revolve around Roe v Wade, whipping up great passion and votes among pro-lifers, even among youth. The left cannot match the right’s passion and ends up losing elections and momentum.
She argues that access to abortion is already dismal. Giving up Roe v. Wade will not dramatically change the present situation. However, it could deflate the emotionally charged situation and allow pro-abortion forces to shift from confrontational strategies to a dialogue where everyone will gradually accept abortion.
The Ginsburg Assessment
Prof. Williams recommends the counsels of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who declared in a 1992 talk that Roe was a mistake because it introduced conflict into the debate. The late justice noted that the state legislatures were already tending to liberalize their abortion statutes back in the early seventies. When the rigid Roe decision stormed onto the scene, dialogue stopped, and “a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction.”
Prof. Williams thinks that a small white flag on the battlefield could open space for a negotiating table. A post-Roe world could return things to the status quo ante and push individual states toward liberalizing their abortion statutes. She hopes the move might also unravel the conservative coalitions by taking away its unifying principle. Feminists might find common ground on other social issues that favor the left.
A Strategy that Must Be Rejected
The left’s strategy is clear. It can no longer deal with the growing by the day pro-life firepower that is pounding away at crumbling fortress Roe. A softer approach is needed to weaken pro-life activists’ unconditional stand against abortion. Insinuated inside this plan is the need for the left to buy itself time for the corrosive power of the sexual revolution to continue wreaking havoc upon the younger generations.
“Dialoguing” with pro-lifers does not mean discussing the issue civilly. It means carrying on the abortion battle by other means. It calls for getting people to accept abortion under the guise of peaceful coexistence and discussion.
If the left surrenders Roe v. Wade, the pro-life movement must adopt new counter-strategies. There are three things that life activists must do to sidestep the left’s traps and secure new victories.
The first thing is to continue to be the same “well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement.” When procured abortion is sent back to the states after Roe’s defeat, the pro-life movement must meet it there with the same prayerful determination and grit that it has always shown. The movement must reject any dialogue that does not include the left’s unconditional surrender of abortion in all its forms.
The second thing is to go on the offensive against the sexual revolution, which is devastating the family and society and triggers so many abortions. The movement has done well to deny access to abortion to vast parts of the country. It must now follow-up on this victory by using the same resolve to fight our immoral and impure culture, fashions and entertainment industry that corrupts the morals of countless Americans, leading millions to the mortal sin of fornication, and, later on, abortion.
Finally, the pro-life movement must remain focused on the religious dimension of the abortion battle. This religious focus allows the movement to inspire and motivate its members and guarantee its success. Members are not just fighting for political change but for the eternal salvation of countless souls: fathers, mothers, children, doctors, nurses, and . . . even politicians. The pro-life movement trusts in God’s help, its true strength.
Unconditional Surrender Is the Only Acceptable Choice
The left can never understand this final point because they do not believe in sin, grace, eternal life, or God acting in history. Thus, Prof. Williams’ analysis contains wishful thinking by thinking there is room for dialogue. The feminist perspective sees things from a purely secular, naturalistic and postmodern perspective without any moral meaning or purpose.
Thus, the pro-abortion perspective can never understand that the pro-life movement’s motivation has nothing in common with the pro-abortion world’s narrow selfishness. The pro-abortion side cannot grasp the idea that when the fate of immortal souls is at stake, there can be no compromise.
The pro-life movement must reject the dialogue maneuver as a sign of weakness from an enemy that admits, “The left has already lost the abortion fight.”
It’s nice seeing a white flag on the horizon. Prof. Williams says that while she resists the “overrule and move on” strategy, “moving on may be our only choice.” Regardless of the left’s change in strategy, the pro-life movement must confide in God and send back the message that a small white flag is not enough. Unconditional surrender is the only acceptable choice.
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