Friday, November 26, 2010

Why should pro-lifers get involved in politics and legislation?

There are several good reasons for engaging in politics and legislation. First, basic justice requires that the law protect the rights of every member of the human family, including the unborn, elderly and disabled. A political regime that sanctions the killing of our innocent offspring, even if no one engaged in that practice, would still be deeply unjust, for it relegates one class of innocent human beings to the status of nonpersons who may be killed for the convenience of others. We must work to make our laws more just and more protective of human rights.

Second, government policies clearly affect behavior, including the practices of abortion, euthanasia and embryo-destructive research. For example, legalizing abortion in the United States dramatically increased the number of abortions, and modest pro-life limitations enacted in recent years have been shown to reduce the number of abortions. In a society in which abortion on demand is permitted and widely accepted, the law is perhaps the single most important instrument for reducing abortions and saving lives.

Third, government policies can influence public opinion. Researcher David C. Reardon explains, "Studies in the psychology of morality reveal that the law is truly the teacher. One of the most significant conclusions of these studies shows that existing laws and customs are the most important criteria for deciding what is right or wrong for most adults in a given culture."

Consider that laws against slavery and racial discrimination actually preceded widespread opposition to those practices. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once put it, "Laws can't change men's hearts, but they can change men's behaviors. When the behavior changes, the hearts may follow."

Fourth, the mere controversy over public policy proposals, whether or not they are enacted into law, can help change public sentiment. The decade-long debate over the partial-birth abortion ban exposed a particularly-gruesome abortion procedure to the public and shifted public opinion in the pro-life direction. Pro-life political and legislative involvement helps keep right-to-life issues a subject of public concern.