It was inevitable that Americans would accept legalized abortion imposed by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. That’s what I constantly heard during my three years at the University of Minnesota Law School in the late 1970′s. The few pro-life law students and I felt great apprehension to raise our hands in class and express even a hint of doubt about the constitutional reasoning of Roe v. Wade, or question whether the decision was morally good. Abortion supporters stood vigilant and pounced on any ”anti-women” dissent challenging the supposedly great and enlightened advance wrought by Roe v. Wade. We were told that pro-lifers were on the wrong side of history. Public acceptance of abortion was inevitable, inexorable, we heard at law school in the 1970′s, as they say today about redefining marriage. Give up. Resistance is futile. Opposition to abortion, they confidently predicted back then, would soon die out because, it is obvious that young people, and everyone else, would grow increasingly pro-abortion.
Except, that’s not what has happened. They have been woefully (Roefully?) wrong. The pro-abortion culture today is crumbling and teetering, not solidifying. Tens of thousands march for life each January in Washington D.C. Polls show young people, raised from day one under the reign of Roe v. Wade, are increasingly pro-life on abortion. Students for Life of America has over 2000 college students coming to its annual conventions, and they turn away young people each year because they need a bigger place to meet. Prolife initiatives at state legislatures have the momentum as they introduce new laws restricting abortion. Business owners are willing to go to court to protect their rights not to fund abortions under Obamacare. Those who support abortion now defend it, no longer as a moral triumph advancing women and human progress generally as they did in the 1970′s, but as a necessary evil.
So how did that change happen? From the beginning, persistent pro-life Catholics spoke against the moral evil of abortion, even in the face of opposition and politicians defecting to the abortion side. These early pro-life leaders convinced evangelical leaders like Francis Schaeffer, Dr. C. Everett Koop, James Dobson and others to teach Protestants about the truth about abortion. In the 1980′s and 90′s, the ultra sound machines allowed us to see the unborn children in the wombs, and no one could honestly deny their humanity. And other leaders with a broad vision, like Pope John Paul II, worked to build a culture of life, changing peoples’ attitudes about abortion. And that change is happening.
I see it when I visit law school campuses to speak. I am free to say, “Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and its shoddy reasoning is embarrassing,’ with hardly anyone speaking against me. Law students today can now openly question the morality of abortion without being shouted down as a bigot. I could not have done that in a law school 30 years ago. The courageous advocacy by the early pro-lifers has paid off, and people are changing their minds on abortion. And when culture changes, altering the law is not too far behind. So, do not lose heart. Like running water flowing over stones in a stream bed, perseverance for moral truth triumphs over “inevitable” destructive moral wrongs.
Watch the 2013 SFLA National Pro-life Conference LIVE online on Saturday, 1/26/2013 at www.SFLAlive.org
The 2013 Students for Life of America National Conference is a one-day event that provides education, training, and opportunities to network with fellow students and national pro-life leaders who know how vital campuses are to the pro-life movement.