The pro-life movement has been part of my life for some time now. Up until I graduated from college, way back in 2017, I was involved in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Apostolate of Divine Mercy, a local pro-life ministry, which was set up right across the street from the abortion clinic. My mother was a sidewalk advocate, who would talk to women who were going to the clinic. My family also helped with some of the more “corporate” parts of the institution, such as drafting newsletters and keeping up with its social media feeds. I also went to the March for Life once. And I have no doubt that the pro-life movement is on the correct side of the issue.
But there are some things that Pro-Life Millennials need to understand in order to have a greater effect on the culture.
Generally speaking, pro-lifers that I have met are unwilling to have an actual conversation with those on the other side of the aisle. And they, for the most part, do not want to hear what the other side thinks or why they think it.
This is a problem if they want to:
- Have the other side listen to their point-of-view, or
- Convince people that our side is right.
Understanding the other side of the argument is essential for refuting it. And I cannot tell you how many times my family and I have heard someone on our side say: “I just don’t understand why anyone would be pro-choice.” And then, once someone (even from our side) tries to explain it to them, they will start arguing immediately. It is as if they are afraid that, if they give the argument a listen, it will change their opinion, or give the impression that they have suddenly become pro-choice.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
If you understand that the other side of the aisle sees abortion as a merciful act (e.g., saving a woman from the burden of bankrupting herself by keeping a child, the difficulty of adoption, or going through the pain of childbirth) then you will be able to refute that, rather than guessing at their reasoning and making an argument that misses their point and therefore fails to give them any reason for changing. Addressing a “straw man” (e.g., pro-choicers hate women because they are against regulations on abortion facilities, or they support murder because abortion is murder) instead of the actual beliefs of the other side is a waste of time and educates no one.
The second issue is about the March for Life in Washington D.C., which takes place January 19, 2018. It began in 1974, so it has been happening every year for over 40 years.
During my time in college, I learned in my journalism class about the factors that make an event newsworthy. They are as follows: impact, timeliness, proximity, interest, conflict, novelty, and celebrity.
The impact is how the event affects the audience. Timeliness is about whether the event happened recently enough. Proximity is about whether the location of the event was close enough to the audience and/or news outlet. Interest is about whether the audience would be interested in the story. Conflict is about whether there is conflict within the event, such as a riot or if a speaker at the event harshly criticized someone else. Novelty is whether something is strange or new. And celebrity is whether the event was caused by someone important who makes it newsworthy.
Other pro-lifers often mourn the fact that the news coverage of the March for Life has been minimal. The March may only get a small mention in the papers in Washington D.C. But, looking down that list, is there honestly something that makes it newsworthy? The only two things that make it newsworthy might be impact and proximity. But it only impacts and is close to the people of Washington D.C. They cannot freely go downtown for one day out of the year.
It is neither timely nor novel because it has been happening for 40+ years. It is not interesting to most audiences of news. Typically it involves no conflict and no celebrities speak at the event.
Now, this does not mean that I would condone someone setting off a bomb at the next March for Life in order to get some more media attention, but, if you want to see more media attention of the March for Life, it needs to be made “newsworthy.” Right now, it is not. So, here are some ideas:
- Invite Trump to give the opening speech and have him verbally abuse the United States Congress and Supreme Court for 45 minutes.
- Hold a rally or start a riot.
- Have Kenny Chesney, Justin Beiber, and Celine Dion collaborate on a few songs for the musical section.
- Arrange for Jack Nicholson, Mel Gibson, Chuck Norris, Jim Caviezel, and Martin Sheen (all pro-life per this link) to hold a panel discussion with Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Joss Whedon, Liam Neeson, and Lena Dunham (all pro-choice per this link.)
Any of that would get the event more media attention. Actually, come to think of it, it is entirely possible that having opposing views, alone, would get more media attention simply for the fact that pro-choicers would be participating as well.
None of that is to say that the pro-life movement is at all inherently flawed. The pro-life movement has science and religion on its side. When my father was younger, he used to believe that the pro-choice movement would be stopped when science discovered that life begins at conception. He did not expect that the arguments would simply become more emotional than scientific.
Since we have science on our side, we should also demonstrate clear thinking and rationality on all fronts, from the arguments we use to the events we support. So we should show that we understand the other side’s arguments and understand how the mainstream news system works.
As pro-life millennials, we are called not only to demonstrate rationality, but virtue as well. Life is filled with many opportunities for personal virtue and we ought to take them. What is required of us is that we not perform the acts that perpetuate the culture of death and, instead, do the things that can perpetuate a culture of life: from the day-to-day—such as simply being kind to other people—to the moral—not having sex outside of marriage—to the just—volunteering at your local pro-life initiative/praying at the local abortion clinic. There are many ways to be a part of the culture of life, and we are its future.