Pro-lifers weigh new strategies and disaffection after fall of Roe

Since the decision reversing Roe v. Wade, leaders and participants in the pro-life movement are saying that the time has arrived for a more socially involved phase of the movement. But there are signs that the movement is showing new divisions, as well as disaffection from a key Catholic population group. Writing in the conservative National Catholic Register (August 8), Mary Frances Myler reports that what anti-abortion activists term “Pro-Life 3.0” focuses on decreasing the demand for abortion through government programs and policies, instead of focusing more exclusively on limiting legal access to abortion. Charles Camosy, a moral theologian and chief proponent of the Pro-Life 3.0 approach, argues that it is more consistent with the breadth of Catholic social teaching and also includes possibilities for bipartisan collaboration. He explains that while Pro-Life 3.0 represents a shift in approach, it builds on previous phases of the pro-life movement.

Myler writes that before Roe the movement was “politically complex” and did not fit within the left-right political divide. Following Roe, “Pro-Life 2.0 was defined largely by its fusionism, channeling political activism largely through a coalition of the religious right, small-government libertarians, and anti-communist hawks.” Now, freed from the limitations imposed by Roe, and coinciding with the Republican Party’s populist shift, Camosy says that the pro-life movement has the opportunity for “new and creative political arrangements,” and “for Catholics to support a political agenda that more fully comports with Catholic social teaching.” Patrick Brown, a fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said that the Catholic emphasis on “subsidiarity,” which holds that social challenges should be addressed at the most immediate level of society, stresses the importance of local faith-based organizations and pregnancy centers, which will likely increase post-Roe. While church teaching on solidarity recognizes a legitimate role for the government in supporting pregnant women, some pro-lifers are wary about bipartisan collaboration, especially at a time when Democrats are increasingly presenting themselves as “pro-abortion” and not merely “pro-choice.”

Source: WRKF / WWNO

But along with new political alliances, a part of the pro-life movement has embraced an abolitionist agenda that eschews a gradualist approach to stopping abortion. Without limiting the states in regulating abortion, abolitionists, who mostly hail from evangelical churches and the Southern Baptist Convention, have become more outspoken. Harkening back to the slavery abolition movement, these activists seek laws to stop the practice on a national level. They are also less hesitant to prosecute mothers having an abortion, according to Christianity Today (August 1). Whether abolitionist or incrementalist, the pro-life cause has suffered a loss of popularity among Latino Catholics, according to a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. The survey found 75 percent of Latino Catholics saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This figure is a significant increase from the 51 percent who gave that answer in 2010. Latino Catholics were also the religious group least likely to look to religious leaders for guidance on abortion. Only 32 percent of Latino Catholics said that their faith dictated their views on abortion, compared to 73 percent of evangelical Protestants.