Time for Democrats to Prove our Point
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Pendulums swing, and political experts point out that the results of
yesterday's elections are not unusual for the sixth year of a two-term
President. I will leave to them the detailed political commentary about
the dynamics of this election. Let me share with you, however, some key
points for us to keep in mind as a pro-life movement, and as we
continue with renewed zeal to press forward with our goals.
1. The Democrats gained power by latching onto our momentum, not
theirs. These comments in the Washington Post today are instructive: "The
complexion of the Democratic presence in Congress will change as well.
Party politics will be shaped by the resurgence of "Blue Dog" Democrats,
who come mainly from the South and from rural districts in the Midwest
and often vote like Republicans. Top Democrats such as Rep. Rahm Emanuel
(Ill.) see these middle-of-the-road lawmakers as the future of the
party in a nation that leans slightly right of center. In private talks
before the election, Emanuel and other top Democrats told their members
they cannot allow the party's liberal wing to dominate the agenda next
And the hear of the "liberal wing" is support for abortion on demand.
The Democrats did not (and could not) gain any control in Congress by
opposing the pro-life position, but rather by having enough candidates
who claimed to embrace it (like Bob Casey, Jr.). Neither party made
abortion a top campaign issue; meanwhile, on issues like the war or taxes
or spending, pro-life people take various positions. Democratic advances
are no indication that people buy into the party's platform on
abortion, which in fact the American public has never supported.
2. Unless pro-life wins, nobody wins. The Democrats' continued failure
to affirm that government must protect unborn children from the
violence of abortion calls into serious question their ability to speak
credibly about war. In 1994, Mother Teresa asked President Clinton, and all
America, "The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it
is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child,
murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even
her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"
(Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, February 3, 1994).
The Washington Post reports today that exit polls found 41 percent of
voters rated corruption "extremely important" to their decision. Yet
corruption cuts both political ways. The willingness to permit, under law,
the dismemberment of children in the womb without so much as supporting
measures to give them pain relief represents a deep corruption of the
mind and heart. In fact, one of the first questions I have for the new
House leadership is, "What action will you take on the Unborn Child Pain
Awareness Act, that would require a mother to be given the option of
providing pain relief for her unborn child at 20 or more weeks of
pregnancy before killing that child by abortion?"
Indeed, it's time for Democrats to prove our point. Every effort to
build a just society will fail until we eliminate the most fundamental
injustice. We cannot welcome the poor or the immigrant without welcoming
our own children, and we cannot advance peace in the world until there's
peace in the womb.
3. Culturally, we continue to have the momentum. The fact is, we are
well on our way to re-establishing peace in the womb, despite the
Democratic extremism on abortion.
Today, I will be in the Supreme Court to listen to the oral arguments
in which the Bush Administration will defend the Federal Ban on
This law represents the first time the United States has banned an
abortion procedure since Roe vs. Wade. That would not have happened except
for the election victories of the last six years. Moreover, the law is
being considered by a Supreme Court with two new Justices, placed there
again as a result of electoral progress over the last six years and
likely to be favorable to upholding the ban.
Every trend continues to move in our direction:
* opinion polls about abortion
* the declining number of abortions, abortionists, and abortion mills
* the strong new motivation of our young pro-life activists who know
they are abortion survivors
* the growing voice of women and men harmed by abortion, who contradict
its promise of "benefit"
* the evidence in science about who the child is
* the medical evidence that abortion is no benefit to women
* the sociological evidence that abortion is no benefit to society
* a new wave of clergy who are more ready for the pro-life battle than
* a new wave of reporters and other professionals who are far more
pro-life than their predecessors
and much more.
4. The vote on the South Dakota ban does not mean what abortion
supporters want it to mean. The American people continue to oppose all but a
small fraction of the abortions that are permitted. The circumstances in
which most of the American public supports the legality of abortion are
the circumstances of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother's life or
physical health - circumstances which account for a few percentage
points of the total numbers of abortion. This, in fact, explains why there
was not majority support at the ballot box for the South Dakota
abortion ban. Pro-abortion forces, bringing most of their money in from
outside of the state, bargained on being able to get the people to reject a
"no rape exception policy," and hence miss the forest for the trees. The
people of South Dakota don't support the Planned Parenthood policy of
abortion on demand, and neither does the rest of America. But don't hold
your breath waiting for abortion supporters to tell you that.
5. Keep politics in perspective. Ultimately, what are we seeking when
we try to put pro-life public officials into office? We are not looking
to them to do our work for us. We are looking to them to do their work
and to let us do ours. Ultimately, the People of God have the
responsibility for ending abortion, and will do so. The only question is how
many obstacles public officials will put in their way, not whether public
officials will stop them. The work of public officials is, first and
foremost, to protect the public. Yet it is that same duty that falls to
the People of God as they continue to expose the truth about abortion,
promote alternatives, heal those wounded by abortion and help them speak
out, close abortion facilities, and continue to work within the
legislative and political arena to challenge government to fulfill the purpose
for which it was established.
6. Start working now for 2008. Pendulums swing, and elections are about
people getting involved. The time to begin the effort to elect people
in 2008, including a pro-life president, is now. Mobilize, educate, grow
your lists, and be more vocal and confident than ever before. I look
forward to working together with you to pick up the slack, awaken our
fellow citizens and believers with the enduring message of truth and life,
and restoring, in culture and in law, the protection of our most
vulnerable brothers and sisters. Remember, we are not just working for
victory; we are working from victory. Victory is our starting point, because
Christ is Risen. The outcome of the battle for life has already been
decided. It only remains for us to be sure to do our part to proclaim,
celebrate, and serve that victory, and bring its transforming power to
every segment of our society!
God bless you!
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life