Forty-four years after Roe v. Wade, abortion remains an injustice unlike any other in America today. It remains the leading cause of human death. But pro-lifers have many reasons to be hopeful in 2017 and beyond.
Abortion numbers are falling. The newest Guttmacher survey indicates that the number of U.S. abortions dropped to 926,190 in 2014 (the most recent year for which estimates are available). Abortions in Minnesota, too, are on the decline. Pregnancy care centers, pro-life education and outreach, and pro-life political and legislative efforts are making a difference. They are saving lives, and every life matters.
Here in Minnesota, new pro-life majorities in the state Legislature may lead to passage of new protective legislation, including bills to stop taxpayer funding of abortion, license abortion facilities, and protect pain-capable unborn children. Our governor, however, remains an obstacle to the enactment of these measures. (You can contact your legislators to urge passage of MCCL-backed bills.)
At the federal level, with a new president and with pro-life leadership in both houses of Congress, pro-life progress that was impossible over the last eight years is now very realistic. The president has already issued an executive order to cease support for organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas. The House has already passed a bill to permanently end federal funding of abortion (the Senate, though, has yet to take it up).
Congress could also act to protect pain-capable unborn children and to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading practitioner of abortion, in order to redirect those funds to community health centers that do not perform abortions.
And the president will soon nominate a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. More justices like Scalia would help roll back the Court's past harmful rulings and allow for greater protection for unborn children.
The pro-life movement in 2017 is diverse and strong and energized. The Pioneer Press described the attendees at this year's MCCL March for Life: "The crowd included huddled clusters of teenagers, nuns in full habit, young children playing in the melting snow, babies being pushed in strollers and elderly in wheelchairs."
These are the Minnesota citizens who are concerned for life. These are the pro-lifers. They are white and black and Hispanic, young and old, male and female, religious and secular, Democrat and Republican. Despite their differences, they all share a commitment to the equal dignity and right to life of every member of the human family.
That commitment points to the most enduring reason for pro-life hope, regardless of the current political circumstances or abortion trends. The enduring reason is that human equality is true. It always has been true, and it always will be true. Human equality isn't just an opinion or a passing fad. It's real and forever.
And it will always be worth fighting for.