What is the current national landscape and battleground for the pro-life movement? I surmise there are three front lines. They are: judicial activism, medical technology and legislative action. This list might seem like a no-brainer, but the devil is in the details of each front line. And the goal is to determine how to effectively fight on these front lines and win back a pro-life culture in America. Before a strategy for achieving that goal can be formulated, an overview of each battleground is required. Let’s begin with judicial activism.
In this case, no one can deny that for greater than 50 years Americans have watched the creation of public policy with the swing of a gavel. Gone are the days when moral issues were primarily determined by the majority through their elected representatives. The courts have usurped the role of the legislature and control of the court has become tantamount to control of the nation. This explains the vicious fight in approving judicial nominees like the one gearing up around Judge John Roberts. The impact of a single Supreme Court judge is staggering and ultimately felt by every American.
Just as an example, take a gander at what I like to call the “Supreme Court Swing” – considering only a short list of those decisions by retiring justice O’Connor where conservatives lost the day by only one vote:
- Lee vs. Weisman – Banned prayer at graduations (1992)
- Planned Parenthood vs. Casey – Upheld Roe vs. Wade (1992)
- Stenberg vs. Carhart – Overturned partial-birth abortion ban (2000)
- Grutter vs. Bollinger – Upheld affirmative action in university admissions policies (2003)
- McCreary County vs. ACLU of Kentucky – Banned public displays of Ten Commandments (2005)
Decisions like these reveal that by a single vote, the course of our nation is being determined. What’s worse is the sheer volume of decisions made in the last 50 or so years that demonstrate a clear departure from traditional Judeo-Christian values. Consider the following decisions made by the courts – once again, not our duly elected representatives:
- Everson vs. Board of Education – Separation of church and state (1947)
- Engle vs. Vitale – Outlawing prayer in school (1962)
- Abington vs. Schempp – Barring Bible reading in school (1963)
- Roe vs. Wade – Legalizing abortion-on-demand (1973)
- Stone vs. Graham – Banning Ten Commandments displays at school (1980)
- Allegheny vs. ACLU – Outlawing public nativity scenes (1989)
- Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coal – Overturning child pornography laws (2002)
- Lawrence vs. Texas – Establishing a right to sodomy (2003)
- Locke vs. Davey – Revoking public scholarships for majors in theology (2004)
- Kelo vs. New London – Allowing government to trample property rights (2005)
Adding to the somewhat predictable trends of liberal judges legislating from the bench is the somewhat unpredictable impact of advances in medical technology. The second front-line fight surrounds the use of embryonic stem cells in search of cures. The primary issue is that ESCR requires the sacrifice of the unborn human life.
Of course, stem-cell research is only the most current and pressing issue in medical technology. In the 1980’s, it was fetal-tissue research. In the 1970’s, it was test-tube babies. No one can be certain what will come next. What is certain is that without a clear foundation in traditional life values, our nation is destined for a path of corruption in pursuit of 21st-century medical technologies.
On the federal legislative front there are at least four bills of concern to the pro-life debate.
- Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA) H.R.748 / Child Custody Protection Act (CPPA) S.403. This bill criminalizes the transportation of minors across state lines to obtain an abortion in circumvention of state laws.
- Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act H.R. 356 / S.51. This bill requires any abortionist to provide specified information to any woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks or later, regarding the pain that would be inflicted on the baby, and to obtain a signed form accepting or rejecting administration of pain-relieving drugs to the baby.
- Public Health Service Act – Embryonic Stem-Cell Research H.R.810 / S.471. This bill provides federal funds for stem-cell research that requires the killing of human embryos.
- Cloning Prohibition Act H.R.1357 / S.658. This bill prohibits the creation of human embryos by cloning for any purpose. But legislators have failed to pass any such legislation for more than four years.
In the absence of federal legislation, 14 states have enacted human cloning laws. Seven permit or encourage human cloning research with state funding including California, New Jersey and Connecticut. More states are expected to pass permissive cloning laws. This is largely in response to the pressure to compete in this technology market and attract top-level researchers to state universities, technology corporations and medical facilities.
So the combination of these three battlegrounds – judicial activism, medical technology and legislative action – comprise the current national landscape for the pro-life movement. How to make a difference in this battle is simple and overwhelming all at once. It requires winning the pro-life debate beginning in your own back yard. From there, we set flame to a grass-roots fire to sweep the nation. Stay tuned next week for the launch of my strategy and message on how to do just that.