This is, indeed, a bold vision and a challenging pathway: that we would change hearts, inside our camp and outside our camp, so that our nation would foster a holistic, womb-to-tomb, pro-life ethic.
As I have written on many occasions, laws do need to change. But laws cannot do this work in our stead.
We Need To Keep Working To Change Minds.
At the same time as we work to soften hearts to the unborn, we must care about offering a clear and compelling defense of the dignity of life that can change minds. For generations, pro-life ethics have become the tools of our political polarization, often used to win votes rather than to pursue justice. Candidates of both parties have realized that support for or opposition to abortion is an easy way to secure a large voting bloc and national influence.
The result is that while evangelicals have long voted Republican, younger evangelicals are now struggling to disentangle pro-life ethics from political allegiance. In recent years, they have become less partisan and have broken the traditional mold of “how an evangelical votes.”
This was especially evident in the 2022 midterms, with many younger evangelicals opting for non-Republican candidates for a host of reasons. As Kevin Singer, co-director of Neighborly Faith, observed in Newsweek, younger evangelicals are wary of the political loyalties and practices of their parents.
While I am sympathetic to concerns of political co-option of the evangelical movement, I am concerned about the unintended consequences for evangelical ethics. When rejection of Republican politics translates to minimizing or dismissing the ethics of life, younger evangelicals risk making the same mistake as past generations by overcorrecting.
If we want to resist the temptations of politicization and polarization, the pro-life movement needs thoughtful leaders to articulate a vision of Christian ethics that defends the dignity of life against all parties. Our goal is to advocate for those who cannot defend themselves and vote in such a way that encourages the flourishing of human life across the board.
We want our votes to portray the consistent belief that human life should be protected and nurtured, from beginning to end.
Ed Markey, one of the politicians who wore an abortion pin at the State of the Union address, was actually pro-life early in his career. Like many others, he has found it politically advantageous to be pro-choice. At least part of the work of the pro-life movement is to reverse this reality.
Wearing an abortion pin is shocking and appalling. We need to work to persuade voters of this so thoroughly that even politicians who change their views with the winds of culture will be compelled to value life in the womb.
We Need to Keep Working to Change Laws.
Even as Dobbs was a landmark victory, critical work still remains in combating the unjust laws of individual states. As the midterms produced new waves of expanded access to abortion, the task ahead remains to advocate for legislation to protect the unborn.
Christians must not grow weary of the work ahead, using the mechanisms and freedoms of our country to demand new laws that value life across the board at the state level. We’re fooling ourselves if we assume that the end of Roe meant the end of abortion.
Our work is only just beginning.
After five decades of a pro-life movement centrally focused on Roe, pro-life advocacy will only become more complicated now that it has been overturned. We must urge the nation to continue protecting life from its beginning until its end.
Much of our work in changing hearts, minds, and laws, comes down to a consistent recognition of the image of God in all people, including the unborn. This belief flows from hearts that have been transformed by Christ, compelling us to speak up for those who are powerless to speak for themselves—whether they are at the border, wrongfully imprisoned, orphaned or widowed, or in the womb.
Life matters. It matters that we adopt, uphold, and advocate for a consistent ethic of life. Let’s work for a time when abortion is unthinkable—and wearing an abortion pin would be seen for the wrong that it actually is.