By Daniel Darling
Pastor, Gages Lake Bible Church
I suppose most conservatives will engage in the sort of doom-and-gloom that typifies the movement when it suffers a significant defeat. And make no mistake, the Democrats’ Pyrrhic victory in securing the passage of health care reform is a big-time defeat for conservatives.
But there’s a silver lining in the health care fight, one most Republicans will miss, but one most social conservatives should celebrate.
This fight proved that the pro-life movement has become the most effective, enduring movement of a generation. Like the civil rights movement of a previous era, the pro-life cause has the moral gravitas that endures financial booms and busts. By taking a measured, steady, incremental approach, by working across party lines, by campaigns of information, millions of acts of compassion, and steady political patience, pro-lifers have not only won many victories, they have won the hearts of mainstream America.
Has any other pillar of the conservative movement won as many victories in the last decade? America just retired eight years of the most pro-life presidency in its history, with the firm resolve of George W. Bush, who even defied members of is own party in pushing a partial-birth abortion ban, holding the line on embryonic stem cells, and appointing two solidly pro-life stalwarts to the Supreme Court. Not to mention his continuation of the Mexico City policy.
One would think that electing a Democratic President with solid majorities in both houses would be a boon for the other side. Especially considering the unapologetic pro-life position of the President, the speaker, and the majority of the Democratic caucus in the Senate.
And yet, in passing its signature legislation, health care reform, Democrats were forced to acquiesce to the wishes of a significant and growing pro-choice caucus in its own party. Who would have thought that some of the toughest pro-life warriors would be Democratic House members? They showed more backbone than many of their Republican counterparts might have in similar situations.
What’s more, even the conservative opposition to Obamacare didn’t really have the pro-life issue in their talking point until the eleventh hour. It was all about spending, government control, and rationing. That’s revealing insight on where their priorities really lie. They bypassed the moral argument in favor of the economic one.
No, it was pro-life Democrats, willing to pay a hefty political price and defy their own President, who ensured that America continues to move toward a culture of life.
It reveals a surprising political calculus. To be pro-life is not out of the mainstream anymore. Conservatives running for office no longer have to hide their pro-life position. Even a recent Gallup poll shows a majority of Americans are now pro-life. That’s what a decade of patience, education, and technology will do.
We may not be thrilled with this health care bill, but we should rejoice that the greatest moral issue of our time is no longer a partisan issue.
Daniel Darling is senior pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of “Teen People of the Bible” by New Hope Publishers.