Matt C. Abbott
Internal sabotage of the pro-life movement?
By Matt C. Abbott
February 26, 2018

A recent article written by pro-life leaders Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue has sparked some controversy among pro-life activists. The article, titled "Pro-Life Storm Clouds: Forewarned Is Forearmed," is somewhat lengthy, but worth reading.

Click here to read it.

I asked Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, to comment on the article and the controversy surrounding it. Father Pavone's response is as follows:
    Mark Crutcher and Troy Newman are two of the national pro-life leaders with whom I have worked most closely over the years, and continue to do so. The three of us have often discussed the need to educate new activists in the history and specific focus of the pro-life movement.

    It is easy for new, enthusiastic activists who are gaining their first insights into the pro-life battle to think that they have discovered things that nobody knew before, or invented things unlike anything that existed before. On the contrary, however, we all stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us, and the sooner we immerse ourselves in the history of the movement, the more effectively we will continue to build it.

    We need to get to know who those giants are, and learn the mistakes they made and the successes they had. And if they are still around, it is no small part of wisdom to consult them extensively, no matter how sure we may be of our own ideas. Because this is true, pro-life writers, speakers, and conference organizers should make a deliberate effort to include more commentary and presentations on the history of the pro-life movement.

    The point about the specific focus of the movement is also crucial. This is a movement to restore protection to the children in the womb. It is a not a movement to defend every human right and solve every social problem. No movement does that. Together as a nation, and together as a church, 'we' have to be fighting on every front for social justice.

    But that overall fight is composed of many different movements, and the pro-life movement is, like every effective movement, very specific and narrowly focused: it is to end abortion. Now we use a lot of rhetoric to describe our noble vision of what the world should be. We want to 'foster respect for all life from conception to natural death' and 'build a culture of life and a civilization of love.' But these are descriptions of a vision, not a movement. These are broad, lofty, long-range goals; they are not a mission statement.

    Mark and Troy are, as am I, deeply concerned that the pro-life movement, and those who claim to represent it in some fashion, recover a commonsense understanding of the difference between an overall vision – which should inspire everyone – and the concrete mission, goals and objectives of a specific movement. The sooner we do that, the sooner we will arrive at victory.

    Mark, Troy and I are deeply convinced, as we have discussed among ourselves many times, that we are closer than ever to victory over abortion. Yet we are also convinced that it is precisely in that home stretch of the battle that there are the most dangers, and the most fierce resistance from the enemy. We can overcome all these dangers – but overcoming them starts with being aware of them, and staying focused and utterly committed to victory.
© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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