Magazine article The Human Life Review

Why Right-to-Lifers Won't Just Shut Up

Magazine article The Human Life Review

Why Right-to-Lifers Won't Just Shut Up

Article excerpt

Milwaukee, Wisc. Even when my friend Anne Dierks called for Arkansas Right to Life, and I explained that I seldom accept speaking engagements out of state, thank you very much, I knew I'd be here. I knew I'd say yes, I'll give the keynote at this year's National Right to Life convention.

Because there are some invitations a person doesn't refuse. Just as, on a longago summer's day outside a little church next to the railroad tracks in Pine Bluff, Ark., I linked arms with some young people to sing "We Shall Overcome." No matter how it might look.

It's been said before: The evils that befall the world are not nearly so often the product of bad people as they are the result of good people who remain silent when they should speak out.

So here I am in Milwaukee. So are a thousand or more other people-here because, like me, they've got to be. About some things you don't have much choice. A moral imperative, a German philosopher called it.

These people aren't supposed to be here. This issue was settled years ago, decades ago, by a single, definitive Supreme Court decision in 1973. Haven't these folks heard of Roe v. Wade? Don't they know they're fighting for a lost cause?

Abortion on demand is the law of the land, and always will be. Or so we're told. Just as a different generation of Americans was told that Dred Scott v. Sandford was the law of the land, and the slavery question had been settled. All the states were going to be slave states. Case closed. To paraphrase my favorite line from a Ring Lardner short story: Shut up, they explained. Those old-time abolitionists and Republicans and Free-Soil Democrats and Antislavery Whigs-what a motley crew that was-were supposed to represent a lost cause, too. But they understood something:

No cause is forever lost. Not in this ever-changing world. Because no cause is forever won. That's the nature of politics. Of ideas. Of faith. Day by day we make our own choices. And the folks gathered here have chosen life.

What a collection of aces are gathered here. Talk about diversity: This crowd really looks like America. And they've all been drawn here by the one issue that cuts across every political, social, religious, ethnic, geographical, sexual, class and party line. None of that matters, not here, not now, not when life is at stake. For these people understand something: If abortion is not wrong-abortion on demand, abortion for no good medical reason, abortion as a routine, accepted feature of American society, the taking of innocent life without restriction or scruple or qualm-if all that is not wrong. …

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