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Pro-Life, Pro-Family

Before I suggest, humbly and carefully, that there is a silence from many of them that should be addressed, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the efforts of nearly 50 years by pro-life activists to protect unborn life in America. By every measure but their own—for Roe v. Wade is still not overturned and hundreds of thousands of babies are still killed untimely in the womb each year before their natural death—the pro-life community has succeeded enormously. Thanks to the labor, money, and prayers of devoted activists it is indeed today harder to snuff out a child in this country than it has been and, almost certainly more important in the long run, it remains an issue the country is divided on near the middle; it remains, whether culture or politics is further upriver, respectable (or at least common) to believe in the sanctity of conception or to desire abortion to be severely restricted, and politicians know they will be accountable for a position on the question. So, to pro-life Americans, let me say: I have marched with you; I am one of you; if what is a call to your institutions feels like a criticism, know that it comes from love.  

Talk about family policy. Make clear you want this country to be a place hospitable to the new life you seek to protect. I don’t mean leave your lane; your vocation remains the abolition of another peculiar institution. But join a conversation, at least by endorsing the abstract idea of it, that hopes to make the work of so many of the crisis pregnancy centers you support easier. Help us address one part of the many causes of this grave evil. Whether by paid family leave or expanded child tax credits or cash allowances, or something else entirely, America needs to make the birth of new Americans more affordable, less frightening, more possible in the minds of young parents. A pro-life culture, a pro-life ethic, a pro-life politics do not exist in series, they exist in persons, and may emerge visible in the world simultaneously through the actions of persons. So, professional pro-life advocacy organizations, I ask you, please join your peer institutions, your members, and your allies in talking about what we can do to support American families. 

Friend, I do not expect that this idea is new to you. The claim that pro-life Americans care only about babies from conception until they are born is the most common critique we receive in our better conversations with abortion’s advocates. In your career you have likely heard it thousands of times, and in your personal capacity you no doubt recognize the enormous economic influence on abortion. Its ready availability is demanded by a certain kind of labor condition, for pregnancy and childbirth and a child all disrupt an economic mode of life; motherhood sexes a worker as a woman and not a unit of labor, and, mother or father, a child takes a worker away from the worker’s post to put the worker in a private sphere where the reach of the market is weaker. Acknowledge that you know this, and that you know the public work of government might in fact be the only instrument by which that private space can be protected, so that new life has somewhere to be welcomed. Acknowledge this and you disarm your opponents of their sharpest rhetorical weapon.  

Now is the time to say that in defense of innocent life there is no stutter in “from conception to natural death.” You will seek the protection of those innocents in the womb. And you cheer the efforts of those who work in complement to you, to protect father, mother, and child from the vagaries of fortune and a sterile economy

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Micah Meadowcroft is the managing editor of The American Conservative. His essays and criticism have appeared in publications such as The New Atlantis, Wall Street Journal, and American Affairs.


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