What’s Next for the Pro-Life Movement?

Pro-life folks are celebrating the strong probability that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, which as even the late Justice Ginsburg acknowledged was too far-reaching and too sweeping. While she and I disagree on the outcome we desire, I affirm with her that any reforms to abortion regulations (and they were needed in 1973) should have involved legislative processes along with judicial ones (I would say legislative instead of judicial decrees).

But before we party too heartily, this is far from the end of debates over issues of abortion (or other matters regarding the sanctity of life). As Churchill said after the Battle of El Alamein, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it will not end abortions in this country, but it will create hundreds of new challenges as the debates move where I believe they should always have been, to the Congress and the legislatures of the various states. And my sense is that most of us are not equipped to accomplish what is needed — to change hearts and minds of those who genuinely believe the debate is about “women’s rights” or “women’s health care.”

The reality is that over the past 50 years, the same arguments have been repeated (ad nauseam, I might add), by those on both sides. Some folks are persuaded by one set of arguments and some by the other. But there is no attempt to find a reasonable place most of us can move beyond our slogans to look for common ground.

As I see the various memes on my Facebook feed, folks are lobbing slogans and in some cases hysterical screeds that have no chance of persuading anybody to look at the matter differently. No, the next step is not to ban interracial marriages (I have actually seen posts to that effect), and no, it is not the end of abortions in America. [As an aside, those who laugh at believers in some massive Q conspiracy seem to be susceptible to their own conspiracy theories.]

A story: Way back in 1984, I was a delegate to the convention of the Lutheran Church in America in Toronto. My bishop assigned us to attend various workshops, and perhaps mischievously and perhaps wisely he sent me to one on the topic of abortion. The room was filled with pro-choice folks. My friends will be amazed that I kept a low profile, and once those gathered realized that the place was “safe,” they started sharing their dismay at the huge number of abortions being performed. Finally I went to a microphone, identified my position, and suggested that we had more in common than it appeared. A reporter for UPI even interviewed me afterwards, and the conversation became much more constructive.

We who are pro-life need to take seriously that many of those holding a pro-choice position are uncomfortable with the death of babies. And we should be uncomfortable with some of the rhetoric on our side which leads people to believe that we have no concern for very difficult decisions women and doctors sometimes need to make on terminating a pregnancy. Burn me at the stake if you wish, but there are times when an abortion may be a responsible decision. I believe this should be rare, but even the Roman Catholic Church permits abortion of an ectopic pregnancy.

Another story: When my mother learned of my pro-life views, she said, “There is something you need to know.” In 1948 she was in renal failure at Geisinger Hospital as she was carrying me, and the doctors told my father they couldn’t save both of us. He told them to “save the baby,” and in his best military veteran’s style would add later, “I don’t know what I would have done with a [bleep] baby.” Now as it turned out, my mother outlived my father by a quarter of a century, and I am still journeying around the sun 74 years later. My mother never had any doubts or reservations about the decision my father made; had she been able, she would have made the same one. But looking back (I hope with gratitude and humility) I do not believe my father could have been condemned had he chosen the opposite. Oh, and this was 25 years before Roe v. Wade but abortion would have been an option.

I have been told that after Roe v. Wade, Senator (and Lutheran) Mark Hatfield was prepared to introduce a human life amendment which probably could have passed. The problem was that some pro-life advocates wanted an absolute prohibition, and others wanted to include exceptions (rape, incest, preserving the life of the mother). Sen. Hatfield knew that he would not have enough votes if either group voted against it, so he told the groups to work out their differences and give him a bill they could all support. Sadly, that never happened, and millions of lives have been sacrificed. As is so often true, the perfect can be the enemy of the good.

We who are pro-life will never win the victories that matter in congress and state legislatures unless we are prepared to address the legitimate concerns of the large number of people who really are “pro-choice” and not simply “pro-abortion.” There are absolutists on both sides, and all they do in either case is radicalize the other side. Again, Justice Ginsburg recognized that Roe v. Wade empowered the pro-life movement (and I suspect, bears much of the responsibility for the ugliness of the political wars wracking our nation right now).

So I would challenge my pro-life friends — Tone down the rhetoric! Listen to the legitimate concerns of those persuaded by the pro-choice arguments. Take seriously the genuine compassion they feel toward women in crisis pregnancies. Be prepared gently to respond to the lies which are widely believed, such as that pro-life people don’t care about the child after it is born. And show by your actions that you do care! The narrative spread by the media and the abortion advocates is that we are a bunch of hateful fanatics (mostly males) who want to oppress women by forcing our narrow religious doctrines on them. You and I know that isn’t true, but sometimes we let ourselves get carried away in the heat of argument.

If in fact the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, our work will just begin. Are we prepared to engage in the hard work of speaking and acting in ways that might change the hearts and minds of those who disagree with us? Are we prepared to listen more than to argue? The lives of thousands, maybe millions of human beings will depend on our answer.

Devotion for Wednesday, September 19, 2018

“They have said, “The Lord does not see, nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”  Pay heed, you senseless among the people; and when will you understand, stupid ones?”  (Psalm 94:7-8)


There are many who rail against the Lord wondering where He is.  He does not do as people imagine a god would do things.  The Lord of Hosts has declared His purpose and you have heard of His law.  You and I are not in a position to rail against the Lord, but only to receive the reality He has declared.  When will we learn?  It is as it has always been.  The Lord is God and there is no other.

Lord, help me to ignore those who do not hear and will not listen.  They are speaking to me all the time and I am influenced by their poison.  Guide my heart to see the truth that You alone are God.  Let me not fall prey to those who rail against You.  Let the meditation of my heart be upon You who has made all things that I may walk humbly in Your sight and live according to Your Word.

Lord Jesus, You have come to rescue as many as would listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit as we are called out of the rebellion of this world and into the light of Your presence.  Guide me this day to walk humbly in Your sight and see the truth of Your grace  as it shines forth in my life.  You are the Savior and I need to be saved.  The stupid ones will always be here in this age.  Help me to not be one of them.  Amen.

Devotion for Tuesday, March 20, 2018

“They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue parades through the earth. Therefore his people return to this place, and waters of abundance are drunk by them.  They say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?”  Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth.”  (Psalm 73:9-12) 

People of violence speak against the Lord.  Look for the inconsistencies.  They say love while speaking  Their tongues are wagging and they constantly harass others for their own benefit. Look to the Lord and do not be swayed by the wicked of this world.  God knows all things. He is not bound by time, but created it.  He knows that which He has created. Be guided by the truth that God knows all things and not by those who hate Him.

Lord, I am too often swayed by the lofty words of those who are constantly speaking and leading me away from You. You alone have the words of eternal life and there is no other place to go.  You alone know all things.  All things have their being through You.  Guide me, O Lord, to look to You alone that I would forever hold fast to the truth You have revealed once for all. Guide me in Your goodness that I might shut my ears to the cacophony of this world.

Lord Jesus, You walked humbly and boldly through this world of wickedness for our sake. You know all the things people say.  Grant Holy Spirit that I would not listen to all the noise, but learn to listen to You.  Open my ears to the sweet music of Your Word and drown out all the noise that would lead me away from You. Keep me close to You that I may abide only in You and be led only by You. Amen.

Devotion for Thursday, November 30, 2017

“Arouse Yourself to help me, and see!  You, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to punish all the nations; do not be gracious to any who are treacherous in iniquity.  They return at evening, they howl like a dog, and go around the city.  Behold, they belch forth with their mouth; words are in their lips, for, they say, “Who hears?”  (Psalm 59:5-7)

Keep your eyes upon the Lord and His ways.  Walk in the counsel of the Lord and know that those who do wickedness will come to their own wicked end.  Do not cast your pearls before swine.  Come into the Lord’s presence and walk humbly before Your God.  Know that the Lord, who sees all, will keep you in His ways and will speak His Word to your ears.

Lord, all around are those who mock You and do not look to You for their sustenance.  Guide me, O Lord, in the way I should go that I would walk in that way.  Help me now and always to seek You alone in all things knowing that You have the words of eternal life.  Let my lips speak Your goodness and my feet walk in Your ways.  You will bring recompense in due season to all who mock You.

Lord Jesus, You took upon Yourself all of the mockery of the nations.  Guide me in Your ways, O Lord, and keep me close to Your teaching.  Let me not hear the ways of the wicked, but instead listen and heed Your eternal way of truth.  May I now and always be in keeping with what You teach me, with Your Word on my lips, meditating on the good portion You have shared by grace.  Amen.

Monday, October 30, 2017 Devotion

“Save me, O God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your power.  Hear my prayer, O God; Give ear to the words of my mouth.”  (Psalm 54:1-2)


Your name O Lord, what is it?  Have you not sent Yeshua, which means, literally, Your Salvation?  You are the Savior.  There is no other.  You have come as one of us to lead the way for all who will listen.  You are the One who, from the beginning, has called to as many as would hear, to hear the call of Your voice, heed Your voice and listen to the call You give.  Let my mouth be full of Your praise.


Lord, You know us better than any of us know ourselves.  You created us.  You know who we are.  Lead me away from what I think up to the place where I see where You have revealed reality.  Guide me in Your ways O Lord that I would be vindicated by Your power and majesty.  Let my mouth be filled with words of Your goodness and praise You all the day long.


Lord Jesus, You have come to show the way.  Through You, who is the way, truth and life, You have pointed to the Father who offers to all who believe and eternal relationship.  Guide me in the eternal way, established from the beginning, that I would walk with You, as You lead, to where You are taking me.  Help me now and always to hold fast to the prayer of my heart, which is to walk in the way of truth.  Amen.