Sometimes a person’s greatest strength can lead to a blind spot. Case in point, former President Donald Trump, whose “Art of the Deal” persona, seen in living color on his TV show “The Apprentice,” illustrated that one of his powerful skill sets is strategic compromise. That’s all well and good when it comes to taxes or inflation-fighting policy, where a percentage point here or there is the difference between a spending measure’s passage and a government shutdown. But when it comes to abortion — the human rights issue of our day — forcing a compromise is a square peg in a round hole, and it just won’t work.
If a person’s worth is negotiable, we are all at risk. For every one of us, there will come a day when it’s just not worth it to someone else to keep any of us alive. Human rights for human beings need to begin at conception and end at natural death. In between, our policies have to empower those unique lives, rather than evaluate them for their money-making potential or convenience.
To that end, the pro-life movement as a whole has worked to protect life in service and in law. We’ve learned the lessons of American history and world history, which are littered with mistakes as one group marginalized another.
In fact, it was “art of the deal” thinking that lead to a compromise in which slaves, Black Americans, were counted as 3/5 of a human being for the purpose of the census, allowing slave states to get more seats in Congress. While many of the founding fathers opposed slavery, allowing just so much became the failure that led to the Civil War.
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Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” is credited with changing the hearts and minds of many in the nation, leading to the end of slavery. She said, “So long as the law considers all these human beings, with beating hearts and living affections, only as so many things belonging to the master — so long as the failure, or misfortune, or imprudence, or death of the kindest owner, may cause them any day to exchange a life of kind protection and indulgence for one of hopeless misery and toil — so long it is impossible to make anything beautiful or desirable in the best regulated administration of slavery.” (Emphasis added.)
Human rights are non-negotiable.
My organization, Students for Life Action, is challenging each of the GOP presidential candidates to pledge that they will sign any Heartbeat Protection legislation that comes to their desk.
Usually, on a battlefield or in an emergency room, compassionate medical teams rush to save the lives of those with a heartbeat — the universal sign of life. In acts of courage around the nation, many states have risen to the challenge of providing real protection for human beings in the womb with a heartbeat.
These laws that take effect before a child can live outside the womb are possible because of promises kept by President Trump to appoint justices who actually read the Constitution. But our commitment to the preborn did not end with the injustice of Roe v. Wade. It begins anew as we look for partners to protect life at the local, state and federal level.
It’s time for a new deal. At SFLAction — and among the more than 1,400 groups in all 50 states and our army of door-knocking activists — the pro-life generation rejects prejudice against people based on age, sex, race, stage of development, parental income, perception of abilities or events of conception. We reject shaming people for things out of their control. And we will fight laws and leaders when others are disenfranchised as a matter of political calculation or personal convenience.
There is a reason that historical voter intensity has benefited pro-life candidates, despite short-term shifts in the last cycle or two. On the one hand, there are radical Democratic politicians who support, as a matter of policy, abortion through all nine months and who see no evil as more than 64 million lives have been lost to abortion; on the other are those in the Republican Party who must make the case for life.
The lives of women and preborn children are at stake, but so is voter turnout. When you’re looking for a champion and can only find a politician, it’s easy to stay home.
No one is forced to run for president. If you don’t want the entire job, there are other options for community service. And no one is forced to vote. With the electorate already so polarized, the GOP and every candidate needs to give pro-life Americans a reason to vote for hope and a future.
Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America & Students for Life Action with more than 1,400 groups on educational campuses in all 50 states. Follow her @KristanHawkins or subscribe to her podcast, Explicitly Pro-Life.