2015 was an eventful year for advocates for the sanctity of human life. The year began with the Supreme Court unanimously striking down a Massachusetts law that prevented pro-lifers from offering free help and hope to women entering abortion clinics. McCullen was a landmark decision that will help to ensure that abortion-vulnerable women will have the opportunity to hear that, despite what the abortion industry is telling them, they really do have a choice to give life to their unborn child. And as the stories of Eleanor McCullen and other heroes like her show, when a true choice is offered, lives are saved.
But that was just the beginning. The latter half of 2015 has seen the abortion industry exposed as never before. The videos from the Center for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood senior level executives haggling over the price of baby body parts and marketing materials showing how baby part harvesting companies work with abortion clinics to give them a “fiscal reward” and “financial benefits” for their baby body parts have allowed many Americans to see Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry for what it truly is.
Yet, for all of the progress we have seen this year it would be easy to feel discouraged. Roe v. Wade remains and abortion is still a curse on America (and the world) with about a million lives lost to abortion in America every year – 40% of them paid for at Planned Parenthood. And our tax dollars continue to subsidize this industry. But despite all of this, there is plenty of reason for those of us who seek to defend the lives of innocent preborn children to be encouraged for the year ahead. Here are just a few:
- Americans are learning the truth about Planned Parenthood. Before the CMP videos, polls showed that less than half of Americans even knew Planned Parenthood performed abortions (!) – a testament to its deceptive but well constructed public image. As Americans learn the truth, that Planned Parenthood is an abortion business, that there are numerous (better) alternatives to Planned Parenthood, and that it has in fact sold baby body parts, it loses public support.
- Congress is finally showing resolve on Planned Parenthood. Yes, the Omnibus appropriations bill just funded Planned Parenthood. With President Obama threatening to shut down the government over any defunding of Planned Parenthood, the House and Senate chose not to call his bluff after pushing through a Senate filibuster. But none of this changes the fact that for the first time in history the United States Senate has found a way and a will to pass a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. That Reconciliation vote, just a few weeks ago, means that Planned Parenthood is one vote short of losing its taxpayer funding - the one in the White House. This does not mean we should cease to demand action from Congress, but the developments of the last several months – if incremental – have been significant and cause for optimism. And that is before the Select Investigative Panel begins revealing more of the truth about the abortion industry.
- State governments are not waiting on Congress. Even as Congress has begun slowly moving toward defunding Planned Parenthood, at least seven states have taken steps toward defunding the abortion business – Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. And that’s with most state legislatures out of session. As state legislatures return in January we can expect a wave of new efforts to end or curtail taxpayer subsidies to the abortion industry.
- The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole could be a game changer. The Court will hear oral argument on the Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet basic health and safety requirements. If the Court upholds the Texas law, it could end the “abortion distortion,” allowing states to regulate abortion like any other outpatient surgery. This would be a victory both for women’s health and safety and for the sanctity of life. It would be a loss for the abortion industry which profits substantially off of abortion, but fights against basic health standards.
- Abortion clinics are closing and abortions are declining. Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, abortions are declining and abortion clinics are closing. Eighty-one abortion clinics closed or dramatically reduced their business in 2015. As Operation Rescue notes, abortion facilities are now at their “lowest number in decades.” And the Center for Disease Control recently announced that the abortion rate is at an all time low (since Roe v. Wade).
No one ever said ending the evil of abortion or even Planned Parenthood’s profiteering on that evil would be easy or fast. Many have worked for decades, and it may take many years more to see abortion take its rightful place as a shameful part of our history, but not our present. Pro-lifers have no license to grow weary in well-doing.
It is not my goal, nor should it be anyone’s, to spend my life fighting abortion. My goal is to see abortion end in my lifetime so that I can then turn my energies onto other great evils of our age. 2016 may not be the year that abortion ends, but it is as good a year as any. Get some rest over Christmas. We have work to do in 2016.
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