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Photo: President Trump speaks at the Susan B. Anthony List 11th Annual Campaign for Life Gala in Washington, D.C., May 22, 2018. (Al Drago/Reuters)
By Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, June 18, 2018
Winning hearts and minds, saving families, preserving precious innocent ones from further traumas ‘President Trump has diligently and successfully gone about fulfilling his promises to the pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him, and it has been a privilege to stand with him to defend the innocent unborn.”
It was just about a month ago now that those words were said in the presence of Donald Trump as he was honored at the Susan B. Anthony List’s annual dinner. The Susan B. Anthony List helps elect pro-life politicians to office. They recently fought to help Dan Lipinski, a rare pro-life Democrat, keep his congressional seat this fall; he won the primary. I am grateful for much of the work the SBA List does.
When President Trump spoke before their assembled dinner, he said, “When I ran for office, I pledged to stand for life. And as president, that’s exactly what I’ve done. And I have kept my promise, and I think everybody here understands that fully.”
The suffragettes, including Susan B. Anthony, were opposed to abortion and believed things about men and women and nature that are becoming harder to say and live.
He subsequently went through a list of pro-life priorities he has helped advance — involving taxpayer money and abortion and judges. He talked about the gravity of our liberal abortion laws and described Susan B. Anthony as “one of the greatest champions of freedom in American history.” He added, “She fought for decades to end slavery, to secure women’s right to vote, and to respect the dignity of every single person.”
I’m grateful that President Trump is using the office of the White House to elevate these things — including the often unrecognized truth about feminism’s early history. The suffragettes, including Susan B. Anthony, were opposed to abortion and believed things about men and women and nature that are becoming harder to say and live. Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had to go to the Supreme Court to protect their religious liberty.
But I also worry. There’s long been what friends of mine have fairly called a “lazy slander” against pro-lifers, that we cease to care about a mother and her child after the baby is born. But that ceases to be a slander and becomes a challenge to meet when headlines talk about mothers being separated from their children at the border. Even when it’s a slander, some people believe it, and that’s in no small part what keeps them from being persuaded to join the fight against abortion. And can you blame them when a president who describes himself as pro-life, and who is heralded as such, is also overseeing an administration that has doubled down on “zero tolerance” and family separation at the border? And so we have headlines about an infant who is taken away from a breastfeeding mother. This isn’t exactly the image of a country once known for “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
The political air in America today is, of course, not helped by “FAKE NEWS.” There are many who don’t know what they can believe, even as we have access to more news at our fingertips than ever before — constantly before our eyes, it seems. And the fact that other aspects of the administration’s more long-term immigration policy have been misrepresented in dramatic ways adds to the difficulty of having a sane and civil conversation about any of this.
The best aspect of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency is the aspirational sense it seemed to recapture — people dreaming and maybe seeing a little of the Creator’s light in their lives. The “Make America Great Again” business isn’t necessarily the ugliness that is well covered. It’s also struggling human beings and families who want to believe that tomorrow they might feel less chained and have a little more breathing room to build — their family, their homes, and more.
At the same time, we who call ourselves “pro-life” simply must consider what “pro-life” means in more complete and enduring ways than the midterm elections. It means telling the truth about abortion’s inhumanity — to all involved. But it also means inundating people with love. It’s out of love of life — a mother and child — and wanting to help families flourish that we are pro-life. And so, among other things, what more are we doing to help orphans? And are we doing everything we can to prevent more?
In his address to the SBA List, President Trump, to his credit, beautifully paid tribute to a couple who welcomed into their home a child born addicted to opioids. This is the kind of story that captures the best of America. It reveals the best of who we are and who we want to be (or so I certainly hope). That is pro-life. Let’s double down on that. Let’s double down on love — at the beginning of life and at the border. It’s what gives us credibility and truly makes us great in the most enduring of ways.