3 Steps Toward a Winning Pro-Life Strategy

Opinion by: Senator Marco Rubio, Fox News

The greatest victory of the pro-life movement has been followed by some of its greatest defeats.

Two years ago, abortion was legal in every state, but a majority of Americans identified as pro-life. Today, the Roe regime has been overturned, and 21 states have passed protections for the unborn, but support for abortion has returned to record highs. 

Meanwhile, the pro-life side has lost seven out of seven state ballot initiatives – a perfect record of failure.

Some have responded to these setbacks with silence. Others have concluded that being truly pro-life is a losing position, urging Republicans to become pro-choice lite instead. Still others have punted everything to the states, claiming that Congress should stay out of the fight.

But if there is any reason to be pro-life at all, it is that an unborn child is a human being, with as much a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as any other American. And if that is true, then none of these positions is tenable – because each amounts to an abandonment of our Declaration, Constitution and basic human dignity.

The aforementioned positions are also untenable because they ignore one of the chief reasons for our present predicament. Americans have not shifted away from life on their own. They have done so under pressure from a sustained and calculated left-wing media campaign.

Since the day someone leaked the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, Democrats have cast an apocalyptic vision of what a supposedly pro-life future would look like. They have painted Republicans as the allies of rapists and child abusers. And they have peddled disinformation that restricting abortion means restricting treatments for miscarriage, stillbirth and ectopic pregnancy.

This is shameless slander and fear-mongering. But tragically, it has resonated with voters – and even some poorly informed health care workers.

The pro-life movement has been handed a serious image problem with potentially devastating policy impacts for the unborn, and time is running out for us to respond.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we have a winning strategy at hand. As pro-life citizens, civil society leaders and policymakers, we should consider three distinct, but related steps to reverse course.

The first step is to develop and loudly promote a compassionate, pro-family agenda.

Some Americans are reluctant to support pro-life policies because they are worried that they or women they know won’t receive adequate support if they get pregnant. They don’t see the tens of thousands of volunteers and pregnancy centers that are the beating heart of the pro-life movement.

Instead, they see politicians who are willing to limit abortion, but far less willing to help mothers and babies in need. Clumsy rhetoric and austere ideology reinforce this perception – a perception Democrats and their friends in the media gleefully exploit.

We can alter this by embracing an agenda that provides generous aid to pregnant women and their born and unborn children. In doing so, we should be adamant that this is not a divergence from pro-life principles, but a fulfillment of them.

Achieving our end goal of a “culture of life” requires more than abortion restrictions – it requires adequate support so mothers can reject abortion and choose life without heroic self-sacrifice.

My Providing for Life Act offers an example of how to support pregnant women and their children. It includes a host of pro-family, pro-life reforms, from an expansion of the child tax credit to guaranteed paid parental leave to enhanced child-support enforcement. The details can be debated, but this package serves as a handy template of what our party should pursue.

The second step toward changing the tide is to hold Democrats to the fire for their extremism.

Democrats support taxpayer-funded abortion, for any reason, up until the moment of birth – and in some cases, after birth. This is not an exaggeration. To quote Abhi Rahman, national communications director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee: “A ban is a ban, period…. No matter what week they try to put on it….”

The Democrat Party platform is explicit about this position, and virtually every Democrat in Congress has voted for the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would eliminate virtually all abortion restrictions nationwide. 

Democrats also resist even the most basic protections for babies, such as legislation requiring abortionists to render medical aid to infants who survive surgical late-term abortions. 

These are the institutional positions of the pro-abortion left. They are wildly unjust. They are also widely unpopular. Yet most Americans have no idea that their politicians believe these things, because major media outlets literally refuse to cover them.

These are the institutional positions of the pro-abortion left. They are wildly unjust. They are also widely unpopular. Yet most Americans have no idea that their politicians believe these things, because major media outlets literally refuse to cover them.

If the Democrats are going to be held to account for their extremism, we’ll have to do it ourselves. We should use every tool at our disposal so Democrats are forced to answer the question, “What restrictions do you support on abortion?” in the Capitol and back home in districts and states. If Democrats are forced to talk honestly, they will lose.

Finally, as people who call ourselves pro-life, we must recall that protecting human beings is the center and purpose of our movement – and we cannot be shy about saying so.

It’s no secret that Americans have different views on whether and how to limit abortion. Pro-lifers must engage with the public pragmatically, recognizing that this debate puts two rights in conflict with one another – the right of women to control their bodies and the right of every person to be free from unjust violence. We have to navigate tough terrain with sympathy. But we should never abandon our moral mission.

Other developed countries have far stronger abortion restrictions than the average blue state. Switzerland, for example, prohibits abortions after 12 weeks, with few exceptions, and requires physicians to counsel women seeking abortion about the risks of the procedure and alternatives to it. 

If Republicans cannot go at least as far as Europe in seeking to limit abortion, then we will have failed those who elected us – and more importantly, we will have failed the unborn Americans whom we claim to defend.

This is not to say that the choices before us are easy – they are anything but. But they present a powerful opportunity to refocus and remember who we are.

Our party believes in the dignity of the human person, the importance of family and the unalienable right to life. There is no cause that unites those beliefs more perfectly and motivates our party’s supporters more earnestly than the pro-life cause. We have a sacred duty to advocate for it effectively.