The Unity of the Pro-life Movement
The pro-life movement is composed of a stunning number and variety of groups large and small, spanning all ages, professions, creeds, and practically every other designation we can name. Literally thousands of groups are active in the United States alone.
One of the reasons for this wide variety is that the goal of the pro-life
movement is so basic and fundamental: the preservation of life itself. Because
life itself is prior to any other rights or traits, no matter how diverse they
may be, it stands to reason that a cause that seeks to protect the right to life
will find adherents across that wide and diverse spectrum of human interests. In
this sense, the presence of so many groups is a good and healthy sign.
Another reason for the wide variety of groups is the nature of abortion. It
is the intersection of many trends in ethics, medicine, law, psychology,
sociology, religion, politics, and numerous other disciplines. Any one of the
many dimensions of abortion can easily demand a lifetime of research and labor.
I often wonder why some consider a focus on abortion alone to be a "narrow"
focus. My experience is just the opposite. The range of intellectual, moral, and
practical avenues which this problem opens seem endless. Therefore, there need
to be different groups which address different dimensions of abortion: medical
groups, religious groups, post-abortion groups, legal groups, youth groups, and
Yet while there is good reason for the diversity and number of pro-life
groups, there is never a justification for disunity. By disunity,
I mean a phenomenon whereby one group sees another as a threat rather than as an
ally, as one to compete with rather than cooperate with, despite the fact that
the ultimate goal, restoring protection for human life, is the same.
Did you ever stop and think that this is the same dynamic which, when it
occurs between a mother and her preborn child, leads to abortion? Mom sees the
child as a threat. She thinks the only road to her own fulfillment is to push
the obstacle, the child, out of the way. Abortion rests on enmity where their
should be welcome. That is true when the parties are mother and child; that is
true when the parties are groups or organizations.
We end abortion when we help mom and dad to trust that the child is not an
obstacle to their fulfillment. Rather, both child and parents find their
fulfillment in giving themselves to each other in love.
The same is true among pro-life groups. Giving ourselves to each other in a
dynamic trust and cooperation will overcome in us what we want pregnant mothers
to overcome in their own minds and hearts. It is time for us to give them the
The Holy Father sums it up: "No single person or group has a monopoly on
the defense and promotion of life. These are everyone s task and responsibility"
(Gospel of Life #91).
Priests for Life Columns