Irish vote shows need for new pro-life strategy

Thomas Reece curia reform

The overwhelming vote in Ireland in favor of allowing access to abortion shows that the pro-life movement needs a new strategy.

Trying to preserve anti-abortion laws or trying to reverse the legalization of abortion is simply not working.

In almost every country where abortion has been on the ballot, abortion has won. Rarely have pro-choice laws been reversed.

This trend is not going to change. To think otherwise is simply ignoring reality.

The American pro-life movement still holds out hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse Roe v. Wade, but even if that does happen, most Americans will still live in states where abortion is legal.

Those who don’t will be able to travel to a state where it is, just as Irish women have long traveled to Britain.

The reality is that most Americans think that abortion should be legal even if they think it is immoral. There is no indication that this thinking will change.

In fact, opinion is moving in the opposite direction, thanks to the attitudes of younger generations.

The Pew Research Center shows Americans under 50 are more likely than their elders to support abortion in all or most cases.

Likewise, in Ireland, younger people voted more strongly to change the law.

Time is on the side of the pro-choice movement.

If making abortion illegal is an impossible goal, what should be the pro-life strategy for the foreseeable future?

The answer is simple and obvious: Work to reduce the number of abortions.

When women are asked why they are having an abortion, the main reasons given are that having a baby would interfere with their education, their work or their ability to care for the children they are already raising, or that they simply cannot afford another child at the time.

Pro-life activists must take these reasons into consideration when developing a new strategy.

Pro-life advocates should strongly support programs that give women a real choice — increasing the minimum wage, free or affordable day care for working and student moms, free or affordable health care for mothers and their children, parental leave programs, education and job-training programs, income and food supplements, etc.

In short, the pro-life movement must support any program that lessens the burden on mothers and their children. Continue reading

  • Thomas Reece SJ is is a senior analyst at Religion News Service, and a former columnist at National Catholic Reporter, and a former editor-in-chief of the weekly Catholic magazine America.

Image: RNS

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