Stu­dents protest against abortion at this year’s March for Life. | Courtesy Facebook

As Hillsdale stu­dents, we know all about the March for Life. Since 1974, thou­sands have marched down the National Mall in an annual protest of a 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. This year was no dif­ferent, and like many pre­vious years, Hillsdale sent a group to join the protest.

Stu­dents returning from the march should cel­e­brate the recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention. It shows that from 2006 – 2015 abortion declined 26 percent. Pro-lifers should also be wary. As abortion has plum­meted in the U.S., the pro-abortion movement has become more enraged. They argue that those who wish to restrict abortion are declaring a war on women.

While this lan­guage may be harsh, pro-choice advo­cates are correct: As the pro-life movement stands today, its stated goals would restrict a women’s repro­ductive rights.

In 2019, this alone puts the pro-life movement at a massive dis­ad­vantage. It’s time the pro-life movement revisits how it advo­cates because any social movement that alienates half the elec­torate is bound to fail.

The pro-life movement’s battle cries haven’t changed since pro-lifers began marching 45 years earlier. To be pro-life today means sup­porting an end to both the practice and legality of abortion. But even with a pro-life pres­ident, two new con­ser­v­ative Supreme Court jus­tices, and the pos­si­bility of a third in the next six years, abortion is unlikely to become illegal in America’s fore­seeable future.

While the marchers have con­tinued marching, America and the world around her has dra­mat­i­cally changed. Maybe here, in the heartland, America has retained some of her con­ser­v­ative social values, but every­where else, it seems, abortion has become a pub­licly applauded activity.

To the horror of many, abortion has become a tweetable act, as dis­played by the Twitter trend #ShoutY­ourAbortion.

It has also become near impos­sible to avoid shopping at chains that donate to America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Par­enthood. While some states have suc­ceeded in rolling back ges­tation limits on abortion, others like New York have recently cel­e­brated the legal­ization of abortion up until birth.

In Ireland, the pro-life movement faced a major blow last spring when the country’s own people voted to legalize abortion — an act that decades earlier would have been unthinkable.

While most of the developed world has been encom­passed in a #MeToo movement that con­demns non-con­sensual sex, they have also sus­tained a culture that increas­ingly sees little problem with non-con­sensual death.

In Oregon and a growing number of states, euthanasia is on the rise.

In Europe, these inhumane acts are even worse. Last year, National Review wrote that elderly Euro­peans had been lethally injected against their will because their own children didn’t want to take care of them.

In 2009, only three babies were born in Iceland with Down syn­drome. The rest were aborted. The United Kingdom is not too far behind with its own Down syn­drome rates either. Columnist George Will has been right to call what’s hap­pening in Europe what it is: sys­tematic genocide.

As the rest of the world has molded to the changing times, the marching pro-life Amer­icans have refused to budge, and com­mendably so. This resilience is exem­plary of the type of nation America has often been — a beacon of hope in a lost world.

Yet despite the strength pro-lifers have shown in standing their ground, it’s time to acknowledge the movement’s failures and focus on the human­i­tarian crisis at hand. The pro-life stance, as it stands today, is on the losing side of a global cul­tural battle. To be pro-life today is to be against women, according to more than half the country. It is con­sidered by many a position held by judg­mental, ignorant deplorables who don’t under­stand the pains and suf­ferings of living in the real world.

We live in a polarized time, no doubt. This is a bitter reality, so pro-lifers should ask: What can this movement do to fix it?
Our Con­ser­v­a­tives’ prin­ciples do not need to change, because what is good and bad in this world does not change. But, cir­cum­stances do. In these troubled times, I have one sug­gestion for the pro-life movement I have grown to admire since coming to Hillsdale: Don’t march to change the law. March to change hearts.
As any eco­nomics major will say: Laws don’t prevent immoral acts from occurring. In some cases, making some­thing illegal only ensures greater harm in a black market.

Lib­erals often win culture wars because unlike con­ser­v­a­tives, they don’t make their final ends always known or they simply don’t have one. They start small, with some­thing easy to con­vince people to accept, like offering an oppressed group certain pro­tec­tions. Once society accepts that, they ask for more.

Pro-lifers should adapt a bit of their strategy. Abandon changes to the law that would infu­riate half the country — a tyran­nical majority can come from both sides — and instead work towards filling the void in a culture that numbs the con­se­quences of giving up. Don’t judge those who make choices you dis­agree with, but instead offer love, com­passion, and a better example for them to follow.

Cel­e­brate those who overcome immense suf­fering. Whether it’s a veteran who runs a marathon despite their legs having been blown off, a family member who over­comes mental health struggles, or a fellow citizen with Down syn­drome living a ful­filling life, there are stories to be told.

By starting with the easily emphatic examples of what it means to be pro-life, you can start chipping away at the minds of those who decide pol­itics based on feelings. Once they’re on the right road, the truth will become clearer, more ground will be gained, and the pro-life movement will have saved more lives.

The world is changing rapidly. Euthanasia is already at our doorstep and genetic mod­i­fi­cation is not far behind. If we’re going to hold on to any of our humanity, we best be prudent and get to work.