Sanctity of life

This week marks the 43rd anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing abortion on demand. The annual march supporting the right to life will take place in Washington, DC. No doubt some political gestures will be made by supporting politicians.

I certainly support the right to life but I have never been able to get involved with the pro-life movement. I think the reason goes back to its origins. Recall that the Catholic Church stood almost alone in publicly opposing abortion on demand in 1973. Very few Protestant churches stood up for life at that time (the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod was an exception). Francis Schaeffer spent several years trying to convince evangelical churches that this was an important issue.

My point here is that the pro-life movement adopted a vigil attitude concerning the victims of abortion and an opposition mindset concerning the politics of abortion. Hence they made the Supreme Court decision the focus of their national march and commemoration.

What’s wrong with this is that the focus is wrong, both spiritually and politically. Support for life should be grounded in God and natural rights, not in opposition to something. A Sanctity of Life Sunday should commemorate life, not death and defeat. Churches and religious organizations should be able to support a movement that affirms moral truth, without getting implicated in direct political action, which may divide their members and alienate others.

For example, the seasonal return to life in Spring would be a reason to select a day then for the affirmation of life (look at what environmentalists have done with Earth Day). This would put the focus on life, not on the politics of abortion. It could be an international celebration of life, which would remove all hint that this is merely a U.S. political movement, a mixing of religion and politics. It is a moral issue of the first rank. That should be the message.

In the U.S. the focus of political activities should be on the legislative branch, not the Court. This has slowly been learnt at the state level. Congress has sufficient power to reign in the Court, to define the beginning of life for legal purposes, and to pass restrictions in funding for abortion. If there are political victories, celebrate that, not political defeat.