Most of you probably heard of the Gallup Poll released yesterday that showed that 61% of Americans want all, or most abortions, to be declared illegal. There remains for further study, the oddity that some Americans who take this position still say they are “pro-choice,” but in the end they still want most abortion to be illegal. If you are unaware of this report you can read it here: Gallup Poll

The upshot of the report is: that, despite their labeling of their own abortion views, a majority of Americans clearly not only oppose abortion and believe it to be a morally improper “choice,” but they believe the legal status of abortions should change and all or virtually all abortions should be prohibited [1].

The lesson here,  is that we ought to take heart. Our prophetic stance in the Church and in the wider pro-life community is having good effects. At times the battle seems long and the results seem distant, but little by little, the tide is turning. There will be set backs and troubles, but we have to keep working. Gently the tide is turning.

An old African American Spiritual says, Keep-a-inching along, Jesus will come by and by, Keep-a-inching along, like a poor inch worm, Jesus will come by and by. So the song says, keep working for justice, it implies, don’t give up. And those slaves of old saw slavery end. Many of the same arguments for slavery have been redeployed by abortion supporters, but keep inching along, Jesus will come, by and by, and the truth will out.

When we look back at slavery, most Americans are embarrassed that we ever thought such an abomination was fine and legal. But it took time to turn the tide in that great struggle. And even after slavery, the struggle continued, through years of Jim Crow and many indignities.

We look back on such things with shame now, how could we have been so foolish and have betrayed American principles so badly, as to enslave, and later segregate and exclude, a whole race. Slowly conversion has come upon this land. But it only came because some were willing to be prophets, and to keep insisting on what was just and right.

It will be the same with abortion. One day we will look back with shame on this era, and wonder how we could ever have been so sinfully wrong as to think abortion should be legal, and even funded it with state money. But it will take time and continued work. The poll shows we are on the way. Keep inching along, Jesus will come by an by.

Another example of how the tide can turn on an issue is smoking. The videos at the bottom of this post are hilarious ads from the 1950s entitled: More Doctors Smoke Camels. The ads, at the time they were produced, did not intend to be a comedy, but now they are. The ads show a doctor puffing up a storm and it assures us of the “benefits” of smoking Camel Cigarettes.

Looking back at ads like this we think, How could we have ever been so stupid? But of course it has taken us time and effort for us to come to our senses. The anti-smoking campaign was long, and at times, loud. I remember more than a few times being annoyed at the “anti-smoking Nazis.” Though I never smoked myself, I became especially alarmed when the government started telling restaurant and bar owners what to do. But in the end, and all discussions about Government intrusion aside, smoking has really been kicked to the curb in our culture. Some still smoke, but everyone today sees it for what it is, poisonous and, frankly, stupid. Those, who are sadly addicted, puff away, but most of the rest of us look to them with a kind of sadness.

This sea change came as the result of a sustained effort, often on an unwilling public. It was multi-pronged as well, using the media effectively, and even the legislative process.

For those of us in pro-life work there are important precedents to be seen in the fight against slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and even in the anti-smoking campaign. Consistent, persistent and organized action brings eventual results. This is often a battle for inches, but inches become yards, and yards, miles. Keep a inching alone like a poor old inch worm, Jesus will come by and by.

Photo from Warning Sign Generator

Enjoy these silly ads.

12 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    From the site:

    “Americans are closely divided between those calling themselves “pro-choice” and those who are “pro-life,” now 49% and 45%, respectively, in Gallup’s 2011 update on U.S. abortion attitudes. This is similar to a year ago, when 45% were “pro-choice” and 47% “pro-life.” However, it is the first time since 2008 that the “pro-choice” position has had the numerical advantage on this Gallup trend.

    Americans’ views on abortion held fairly steady over the past year, with the public still sharply divided over the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels. Nevertheless, majorities of Americans indicate some reluctance about abortion on both moral and legal grounds. This is seen most strongly among Republicans and older Americans.”

  2. Vijaya says:

    AMEN! It’s so good to see slowly turning the other way. Inch by inch … Jesus is with us all the way!

  3. Sam says:

    This is good news, and it shows how we can turn around even a very bad cultural situation within a few decades if only we mobilize. By contrast, our performance on marriage and sexuality has been dismal. And that is arguably a bigger issue, because the numbers are moving sharply in the direction of same-sex marriage while our side of the debate is in free fall among the under 30 crowd. We really have got to mobilize on this issue to get people to understand the role and benefits of enshrining traditional marriage, and I don’t think we can do that with any honesty until we first take a hard look at heterosexual behaviors like contraception and easy-divorce. Until we mobilize against the shabby state of heterosexual marriage, we will not be able to present principled opposition against the push for gay “marriage”; it will seem to the world as if we just want to discriminate against an unpopular minority group. And arguably this is a more important issue. If gay “marriage” becomes the law of the land, then traditional Christians are at risk for all kinds of legal harassment and “anti-discrimination” suits.

  4. Cornelius says:

    Msgr. Pope,

    I would highly recommend this 2002 article from First Things. It makes a very similar point.

    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/MathewesGreenAbortionCulture.php

  5. Nishant Jeyaraj says:

    The slavery analogy is good, but there is, in my opinion, a better one. Infanticide. Most people don’t know that almost universally, by even the noblest of pagan thinkers like Plato, Seneca, Cicero and Aristotle it was defended. Killing of children to appease gods or simple abandonment was common. Only in Judaism locally, it was condemned, and then in Christianity universally was it eventually outlawed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide#Christianity

    Like you say, in the course of time, the heinous evil it is will again become clear. But just think, when men return to their senses once more, they will realize too, that it was only Christianity that had stood for the truth all along. And then, we can hope, there will be a revival and a return to Faith as well. God bless.

  6. Linda says:

    I find the anti-smoking thing to be ridiculous in the face of the killing of innocent babies. I also think that if one is going to be anti-smoking, they need also be anti-alcohol, anti-drugs, anti-overeating, etc. Many things cause death. Jumping out of airplanes with no good reason other than the thrill of it seems pretty stupid to me. It seems that people who should be protesting against the culture of death are too busy protesting over people’s bad habits which are nothing compared to the grave sins that are abundant in our world. We need to use some logic here.

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