For Pro-Lifers, A New Day

By John Jay Hughes

Tuesday, November 11, 2008, 7:36 AM

The worst aspect of an Obama presidency, I have been telling friends for months, will be his Supreme Court appointments. They will set the so-called constitutional right to an abortion in concrete for years to come. While this remains true, Sen. Obama’s victory challenges pro-lifers in two ways.

We need first to recognize that politics is the art of the possible and that political battles can never be won by attacking our friends. During the annual march on Washington each January, some pro-lifers have had nothing better to do than to stage confrontations with pro-life members of Congress whose support they consider insufficiently militant. I received such an attack myself, during a previous presidential campaign, when a listener found the decibel count of a strong pro-life homily I preached too low. This is madness.

Second, we need to recognize that, for some years to come, abortion will be with us; we must support the kind of limitations on the practice which are in force in most other countries. To oppose such limitations on the grounds that they do not banish all abortions is also madness.

Beyond replacing political naivete with political savvy, the task before pro-life people now is to concentrate on the only task that will bring success in the fight for life: changing hearts and minds.

“For too long we’ve been asking politicians to do for us what we need to do ourselves,” a militantly pro-life Catholic bishop told me on election day. He was right. Of course our laws should protect the weak and defenseless. And who is more vulnerable and defenseless than the baby in the womb—or Grandma in a nursing home whose mind has gone ahead of her and whose care is costly? We need to realize, however, that laws that do not enjoy wide popular support are useless, or worse.

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