Three Cheers for the Pro-Life Movement’s Political and Legal Arms

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You’ve heard it all. The pro-life movement is too political. It is too connected with the Republican Party. The Republicans have done nothing to advance the cause of the unborn child. Pro-lifers are fools and chumps for being so closely aligned with the do-nothing GOP. Pro-lifers, and especially Catholics, have no home in either political party. And don’t get me started on how Donald Trump has harmed the pro-life movement. This is the chatter one hears from certain quarters. 

Yet here we are on the cusp of overturning the federal abortion regime. We are about to do what many thought was impossible. We owe this impending, upending victory to the entire pro-life movement—the folks saying Hail Marys in front of abortuaries, those intervening with women entering abortion clinics, those who educate the public about what abortion is. We owe it to folks who have done nothing more than send an occasional check to their favorite pro-life group. 

But, most especially, on this day, we owe it to perhaps the most reviled part of the pro-life movement, that is, the political and legal arms of the movement. This will have been a victory of hearts and minds, to be sure, but most of all it will have been a victory of partisan politics and the law. 

Consider the wild carom shot the political and legal arms of the movement have been tasked with. Consider the various tracks of action necessary to bring us to this moment. 

First, elect a majority of the United States Senate and ensure most of them are willing to vote pro-life. 

Second, elect a president, a series of them, in fact, willing to nominate judges and justices who view Constitutional interpretation in an originalist way, all the while staying clear of any kind of pro-life litmus test. 

Third, you have seen the Federalist Society and others working to change legal education so that students and professors might incorporate originalism into their thinking and actions. Keep in mind that it has only been the Left who has been allowed to have an abortion litmus test for judges and justices. This is because the Left openly espouses a totally made-up Constitution. 

Fourth, where the tracks come together is when there has been a nominating fight for judges and justices, ensuring they get through what has become a nasty process. 

Fifth, and then on yet another track, there are those in the states who worked on electing pro-life legislators and advanced laws and therefore legal challenges that might eventually work their way through the court system to the Supreme Court. 

It has been a wonderful tapestry of related action in politics—federal, state, and local, and the law. 

How crazy and wonderful has been the effort that has led to being on the cusp of overturning the federal abortion regime, a regime that The New York Times said was settled with Roe in 1973. This has been a regime supported and buttressed by all the power centers of the country—the major news media, Hollywood, major corporations, rich foundations, the elite academy. 

It has not been easy. In these long years, we have been betrayed. We have known all along that the GOP was not completely with us. Many in the GOP who called themselves pro-life did so only to pay lip service and get elected. But the GOP was the only game in town. The Democrats turned into the Party of Death decades ago. There has been no home for pro-lifers there. 

Even the judicial path has been fraught. Do you remember the Harriet Miers fiasco? George W. Bush nominated her with the blessing of the Federalist Society. But pro-lifers blocked her, and she was replaced with Samuel Alito. She came thisclose (sic) to sitting on the Court, and we all assumed she would be a squish like Sandra Day O’Connor or a flat-out enemy like David Souter. Remember him? We have been fooled. We have been chumps. God’s fools. God’s chumps. And, for Him, we kept going. 

Consider the new attacks from the right on the very idea of originalism. Members of the Newest Right, particularly Josh Hammer of Newsweek and Adrian Vermeule of Harvard, advocate a new kind of originalism because the old kind has not work. Just look at the Bostock decision drafted by Neil Gorsuch that equates transgenderism with sex. Take a look at the decision by John Roberts upholding Obamacare. It did make one wonder if the Federalist Society project was ever going to work out. Perhaps “the living Constitution” was embedded too deep into legal skulls to ever change. 

In response, Hammer and Vermeule argue that we ought to look not to the Constitution but to our policy proscriptions and how these policy desires align with what they define as the “common good.” This is a theory not dissimilar to what the judicial Left has been doing since the Warren Court decades ago, the Court that kicked prayer and the Bible out of school. 

And then along came the Alito draft that may overturn Roe v. Wade and, perhaps, rescue originalism. He looked back hundreds of years to see whether abortion has even been a part of our jurisprudence or the norms of our lives. Of course, it hasn’t. Abortion on demand in the Constitution was created out of whole cloth not long before Roe came to the Court. What’s more, the precedent of Roe and Casey cannot hold if the underlying arguments failed in the first place. 

The entire pro-life movement, all of it, will be able to take a humble bow when Roe is swept into the wastebasket of history. But three huzzahs must be aimed at those two most despised arms of our movement, all those who have toiled in politics and all those who have worked in legal theory and education. 

There must be a final tip of the hat to the most unlikely pro-lifer, Donald Trump. None of this would have happened if he had not trounced Hillary Clinton. I don’t think Jeb Bush or any of the others could have whipped her. Once elected, this man acted in the most pro-life ways. We were astonished. Maybe a Jeb Bush would have stood by Kavanaugh when he was under withering assault. Maybe not. The fact is, Donald Trump beat Hillary. He nominated pro-life justices, and he stood by them. And he did all this while under continuous criminal attack from the Deep State. Our joy and thanks must extend to him. 

Three cheers. Hip hip hooray. Hip hip hooray. Hip hip hooray. 

[Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images]

By

Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. His latest book, Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, is now available from Crisis Publications.

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