I don’t put a whole lot of faith in the laws and legislative efforts that restrict abortion, because in the end it all comes down to the same thing: choice.
Yes, choice. It’s the word that abortion supporters tout and pro-life supporters have come to loath. But choice really is the core issue of abortion—but not in the way that most people believe.
Pour millions of dollars into supporting pro/anti abortion candidates, pull favors, lobby, work with special interest groups, and tighten or diffuse the laws, and yet the percentage of those for and against abortion will remain relatively the same. Why? Because laws deal with surface issues; they are attempts to treat the perceivable pains of deeper diseases.
In this case, pro-life activists seek to use laws and legislation to enforce a moral belief on others. But this simply won’t work. You can’t enforce moral beliefs with consistency and accuracy. The world simply does not have enough policemen. Hearts are the power behind moral issues and laws seldom change hearts.
Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order declaring the freedom of all slaves in the ten rebellion states. Two years later, slavery was officially outlawed with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.
Now let’s ask history a question: Did those legislative efforts change how people perceived Blacks? While it certainly freed them from bondage it did not exactly improve their social status. Bitter from their losses, many in the South became “vicious racists,” embraced segregation, and actively persecuted African-Americans. As Dr. King stated in his famous I Have A Dream speech:
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
Even though African-Americans were legally “free,” they were still condemned to quasi-slavery under prejudicial eyes. A legal system can not fully protect people from those who do not value life. People will always find ways to “beat the system” to satisfy their bigotry and get what they want.
But during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did what Abraham Lincoln could
not. While acknowledging the injustice of the “justice” system, Dr. King saw that the greater issue lay beneath the surface issues—surface issues like legislation or even the color of one’s skin. No, the real battle is the one that must be fought in the chambers of one’s own heart.
Therefore, on the steps of the Lincoln memorial, Dr. King took his non-violent war not to Congress, but to those with a warring heart, stating:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
That sentiment has done more to fight bigotry and racism than perhaps any law or legislative effort. Because it penetrated the hearts of the people who heard it and would ever hear it. And the hearts of the people are what shape the laws of the land, not the other way around.
The Prohibition Era in America reinforces this idea. In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, making the consumption and distribution of alcohol illegal. While the enforcement of this law did curb alcohol consumption as a whole, there was a significant increase of alcohol consumption in cities and a significant increase in organized crime, relating to the production and distribution of alcohol. This sharp rise in crime and hypocrisy led to the Twenty-first Amendment which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.
The hearts of the people are what shape the laws of the land.
Back to Abortion
My point is this: No matter the legal obstacles, abortion will always remain a choice. If someone is determined to have an abortion they will find a way to have an abortion (legal or not, safe or not). If you want to decrease the number of abortions (as I do) then take your aim away from legal and legislative efforts and focus on the heart. The preaching of Dr. King has proved that focusing on the heart produces more rapid results than the politicking of Abraham Lincoln. Pour your time, money and energy into helping others see the embryo (even when it’s just a few tiny cells) as a human life, and to value it as such.
Understand that in learning to see the embryo as a human life, you must also see its mother as a human life. If she’s considering abortion she’s likely very scared. She’s not stupid, she’s not reckless, and she’s not a slut. Her life should be considered just as valuable as the life her body is creating.
So please, take your focus away from politicians and Political Action Committees and focus on the heart of the issue. If people learn to value the embryo as a human life, then all of our laws will naturally change to protect that life.
Indeed, if all of our hearts changed in a positive direction about issues of race, alcoholism and abortion, who would need laws to enforce what we already embrace?