Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Bob Morrison.
President Obama has invoked Dr. King’s powerful phrase—the fierce urgency of now—as a spur to get his troops in line for the takeover of health care. They achieved their purposes to the extent that they rammed through Congress a monster of a bill—around the corner, over the walls, and parachuting down the chimney, if necessary, as an entranced Speaker Nancy Pelosi gushingly told us. They knew they had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make it happen. And they did.
What Dr. King’s “fierce urgency of now” referred to was the centuries-long deferred promise of American life, that all of God’s children could live together in peace and justice, that freedom would ring from the red hills of Georgia to the California redwoods. Dr. King cried out in the voice of the prophet. And the nation heeded. It was then that the great Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed. This was the greatest advance for equal justice under law since the victorious Union ratified the Civil War era amendments to the Constitution.
We can embrace a fierce urgency of now, too. We have a cause every bit as compelling as that of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Where they want to shackle every American to the government, we want our people to be free. Where they want to force every American to participate in the slaughter of innocents, we believe every one deserves a birth day.
We, especially those of us who are pro-life, have disciplined ourselves to run the marathon. We have embraced incremental measures for the protection of innocent lives.
All of these incremental steps have helped. All were worthy of our full support.
There is a difference, however, between incremental and incrementalism. We need to realize that there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come. We can gird ourselves for the long haul, but we should never dismiss the possibility of a sudden breakthrough moment.
Ronald Reagan was the most famous pro-lifer ever to sit in the White House. He spoke of the tragedy of abortion in his State of the Union Addresses. He spoke of the unborn in his Inaugural Addresses. He published a pro-life book and promoted the Silent Scream video. He issued regulations that have been approved by the Supreme Court to force Planned Barrenhood to physically separate its abortion facilities from its family banning activities.
President Reagan’s Title X regulation would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. But Bill Clinton rejected them and his Republican predecessor and successor neglected them.