“We are in a real war, with real blood being shed, real lives being lost, a true genocide in our midst.”

“This is a war, a bloody war, for the soul of our country.”

“We fight not only in the temporal world, but the Powers, Thrones, Dominions and Principalities of an evil, supernatural realm. We must arm ourselves with prayer, penance, and sacrifice.”

“Any nation that kills its children in such massive numbers, that country won’t last long.”

So went the rhetoric in the late 70s and early 80s when I joined the prolife movement. I even heard it from politicians, but who only spoke that way in front of selected audiences. I heard it from evangelical preachers and from prolife leaders at banquets and coffee klatches.

But as a Catholic, I was puzzled why I never heard it during Mass and decided that when my pastor said, “Our church’s stance on this issue is well known,” I figured it was not necessary. I noted, however, that there was an underlying dissent within the overall church and within my own parish as well. I decided that the pastor was merely being prudent, and that I had better make up for him. In Alaska, evangelicals were leading the prolife movement.

The Dobbs decision was a battle victory, not the surrender of evil. Evil is now cornered and ticked off. We have gone through stages One, Two and Three, and are now entering Stage Four.

And they were eagerly trying to get Ronald Reagan elected president. For that reason and many others, I was, too. I also wanted to get rid of Mike Gravel, a liberal Democrat, and got behind the effort to oust him in the Alaska Open Primary of 1980 by voting for his Democratic challenger, Clark Gruening. It worked, and the prolife Republican Frank Murkowski breezed into the U.S. Senate. With a Reagan landslide victory, we were on our way.

Or so we thought.

Somehow, the gravity of this issue was impossible to communicate. The media just would not give it respect. This was puzzling, for civil rights were the “in” thing for decades, and what more obvious a cause could they ask for? There were prolife liberals, but they were dwindling in number, or becoming Reagan Democrats or outright Republicans.

The media treated the prolife activists as somehow “emotional,” which was another way of saying, “irrational.” They wrote sympathetically of elected mainstream conservatives, like Sen. Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, being forced to endure boring and long lectures on fetal development and abortion techniques. Or worse, shocked and offended by viewing bloody slide shows.

Loud chanting at picketing events and approaches by sidewalk counselors was characterized as “intimidating women seeking a constitutionally protected right,” dangerous to the efficiency of the medical staff, etc. Crisis pregnancy centers were demonized and called “fake clinics.” They still are.

President Ronald Regan delivers a speech.

This deliberate ignoring and ridiculing of the issue was so frustrating that many of our conferences and talks centered on “How to keep the issue alive,” or “How to counteract the media lies” and even “How to get media attention,” a thing that is now impossible to imagine. Although Reagan even authored a brief book while president, “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation,” it was intentionally ignored or given short shrift, except as we often noted, “within prolife circles.”

Ah, yes, “prolife circles,” as if we had our own little universe in which to operate, at least for the time being. There were many scientifically accurate, outstanding, low budget/high-quality movies and documentaries made, such as Assignment Life, Eclipse of Reason, The Silent Scream, A Better Way, Walk America for Life and many more. Celebrities such as Pat Boone, Charlton Heston, Jack Nicholson and Patty Duke lent their reputations.

The titanic, and unmatched in history, “March for Life” every January 22nd, organized by ex-Marine Nellie Gray, was usually ignored by the media, the number of participants reported as low, constantly dwindling, or mostly Catholic. Pro-abortion counterdemonstrators, always fewer and merely token in number, usually received more media coverage.

This frustration brought about, almost inevitably, a prolife response in non-violent civil disobedience, generally called “The Rescue Movement.” Using the examples of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and many others, prolifers were convinced, in massive numbers and from coast to coast, to blockade abortion clinics, and suffer arrest and punishment. This dovetailed nicely with regular picketing, sidewalk counseling and with the burgeoning crisis pregnancy centers which existed across the U.S. and Canada.

Pro-life advocates pray in Fairbanks.

Civil disobedience would not be easy. Participants had to be trusted to follow a discipline that would remain peaceful, prayerful and submissive. They had to accept the basic differences that existed between Evangelicals and Catholics, to be set aside for a common cause. They had to accept the reality of a criminal record and the real possibility of police brutality and prison terms of both short and long duration.

But this would deliver the goods, it was hoped, as to demonstrating the determination and nerve of prolifers.

But above all, the seriousness of the abortion issue.

Again, no. The frustrations due to the disdain of the mainstream media, attempting their best to call us “extremists,” “anti-choice,” “illegal” and “violent,” were certainly disappointing but not unexpected. But the institutional prolife movement ignored us like we were radioactive, something that evangelist Franky Schaeffer warned about in a speech before a general session of the National Right to Life Committee. This was hardest for us to accept.

Imagine if the NAACP, in the 1960s, had joined the chorus of “white moderates” criticizing Dr. King in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” That is what was happening. Schaeffer galvanized the true zeal that underlay the movement, upset the moderates, and smoked out the tepid NRLC. Before too long, many of us viewed the NRLC and its state affiliates as either too timid to accept the next phase of the struggle, or worse, were part of the “controlled opposition.”

And what are the phases of this struggle?

First, being ignored. Secondly, ridiculed. Third, hostility. Fourth, persecution. And fifth, respect, and with it … victory.

The Dobbs decision was a battle victory, not the surrender of evil. Evil is now cornered and ticked off. We have gone through stages One, Two and Three, and are now entering Stage Four.

And as sure as day follows night, we will endure until Stage Five.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

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The morphing of the pro-life movement

Bob Bird
Bob Bird ran for U.S. Senate in 1990 and 2008. He is a past president of Alaska Right to Life, a 47-year Alaska resident and a retired public school teacher. He has a passion for studying and teaching Alaska and U.S. constitutional history. He lives on the Kenai Peninsula and is currently a daily radio talk-show host for The Talk of the Kenai, on KSRM 920 AM from 3-5 pm and heard online


  • Proud Alaskan says:

    They will know we are Christian’s by our Love.
    Amen for the courts

  • Nina K Gorman says:

    I was naive and scared at 17 years of age when an older adult helped to convince me to get an abortion, which plain simple is: me co-laboring with the doctor to murder my unborn baby. I was psychologically unwell for years and tormented by that decision. I became suicidal and addicted to alcohol and drugs to attempt to numb the pain of the guilt. If it wasn’t for the intervention of Jesus Christ in my life during that time, I’d still be a mess or dead. The years of damage that it does to the person who allows their baby; which carries half of their identity to be murdered, is not worth “so-called” inconvenience as an excuse to have one. There are many people waiting to adopt children and God has a plan for that unborn human being.

    • Brandi says:

      God bless you and thank you for sharing your story. The experiences of women who have had abortions need to be heard. Especially by the younger generation, by those who are now young and scared and pregnant or who may become so.

  • Dabigmoose says:

    They went from ok to abort with in first 4 weeks to full term even outside the womb the baby can be euthanized. The Outside the womb is just plan Murder these people are Dangerous to everyone as they have no value for Life at any stage. Maybe ones so eager to kill have Mental health issues and are Dangerous to society as a whole. This is not about religion it about mental state of people willing to kill another Human without any Remorse.