The title of this piece probably gives the wrong impression. From a scientific, medical, intellectual, philosophical, logical, constitutional, moral, and Biblical perspective, of course Mike Pence is right that human beings in the womb should not be subject to dismemberment and annihilation simply because they are deemed inconvenient by another human being. That ship sailed, docked, and unloaded a long time ago.
The correct answer about the acceptability of extinguishing human life in the womb hasn’t been a question for rational minds for some time. So I’m not asking if the ardently pro-life Pence is right about wanting to see abortion ended, but rather if he’s right about when it will end. Here’s what he said:
Vice President Pence predicted Tuesday that legal abortion would end in the U.S. "in our time."
"I know in my heart of hearts this will be the generation that restores life in America," Pence said at a luncheon in Nashville, Tenn., hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List & Life Institute, an anti-abortion organization.
Obviously, part of this could be Pence merely saying what his audience wants to hear. Speakers do that from time to time in an effort to improve morale, encourage giving, and inspire continued commitment to the cause.
At the same time, it’s no great secret that youth and energy is clearly on the side of the pro-life movement in America. Every scientific breakthrough that allows humans to survive outside the womb at earlier ages pushes back that asinine and arbitrary line ridiculously known as “viability.” Viability marks what a person can do, not what a person is; and thus it is an appalling measure of who gets to live and who can be killed.
Progressives might have believed that as America became increasingly less religious it would move towards full acceptance and embrace of abortion. Science continues to prevent that from happening.
But at the same time, even the legal prospects of returning the question of abortion to the states to adjudicate – where the issue rested prior to the Supreme Court striking down laws in 50 out of 50 states in their bizarre 1973 Roe v Wade decision – seem dubious at best. Assuming a legal challenge made it to the current Supreme Court, it would likely lose 6-3 with two Republican nominees (Kennedy and Roberts) coming down on the side of the status quo.
Unless both Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer decide to give President Trump the opportunity to appoint their replacements, the overturning of Roe seems far-fetched. That need not be a discouragement to the pro-life movement as much as an honest observation and statement of reality.
So what can account for Pence’s optimism? Perhaps it’s found in this line:
Pence said future success depends “not so much on those of us who have the privilege of serving in public life as it does on all of you.”
Politicians want to get re-elected. And if the public is content with the status quo on abortion, don’t expect politicians to do anything drastic to change that. There are certainly a few willing to play the part of William Wilberforce, the British politician who single-handedly turned parliament against the slave trade. But they just don’t have the votes. And they don’t have the votes because too many politicians know that a vote for life means losing their job.
After 45 years of legal precedent and cultural acclimatization, abortion is well entrenched in the mindset of the voting public. So much so that individuals who believe in complete emancipation of the unborn are often portrayed as radical as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Abraham Lincoln were regarded for advocating the abolition of slavery.
That won’t change from the top down. It won’t change because a law was properly written or a regulation was surreptitiously added to an omnibus bill. It won’t change because the Supreme Court finally fixes what it screwed up almost a half century ago as they did in the case of segregation.
It will change only because the hearts of the people changed. And that will only happen if those of us convicted by the truth are committed to sharing it in every avenue the God of life provides us.