Jonathon van Maren


Are pro-lifers the new extremists?

Jonathon van Maren

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” -George Orwell

In today’s political climate, the word “extremist” is one that is often bandied about by individuals and groups who seek to delegitimize their opponents. A brief overview of recent headlines reveals political appointees being labelled “anti-immigration extremist”, Tea Party “extremist”, and a variety of other people with apparently “extreme” views. Indeed, the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform and any other pro-life group that engages the public directly on the issue of abortion (such as Ontario’s “Show the Truth”) are frequently called “anti-choice extremists”.

This, however, begs an important question. Is being an “extremist” necessarily a negative thing? The answer, of course, is dependant upon what you are being extreme about. As Barry Goldwater once said, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

Being an extremist, by definition, is “someone who has beliefs which most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable”, or alternatively someone who is perfectly willing to engage in actions outside the norm to propagate his or her point of view. “Extremists” would then include people like Ghandi, Corrie ten Boom, Oskar Schindler, and Martin Luther King Jr. When Dr. King was faced with the accusation of being an extremist, he replied in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”:

“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like am ever-flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? ... Perhaps the South, the nation, and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”


It is indeed extreme to tell a culture that they are systematically tearing little children apart in the womb every day, all year round. But what is more extreme—showing people the truth about what abortion is, or permitting, ignoring, or endorsing a practice that has become so widespread it is tantamount to genocide? Do these preborn children need more moderate pro-lifers, or do they need pro-lifers who are extreme in their defence of life?

The pro-abortion movement has been winning the battle to define terminology for decades. They have brilliantly categorized abortion as a “choice” (while ignoring what is being chosen), and labelled themselves “progressives.” Pro-lifers, on the other hand, are “extremists”, “anti-choice”, and a variety of other less than complimentary ephithets. Those who defend the value and dignity of human life are “extremist”. The abortion movement, on the other hand, can stand in front of an enormous mass grave of dismembered pre-born corpses and straight-facedly call it “progress.”

C.S. Lewis once said that “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” If defending the idea that every pre-born child has the right to be born is an extreme one, then we, as Dr. King, accept that label. If opposing a procedure so barbaric that it literally suctions a baby apart is considered extremist, then extremist we are. We echo the sentiment of Dr King: the world needs more creative extremists.

If you, too, believe that human life should be protected and that some “choices” are wrong, then you are an extremist. Speak out for the pre-born who are being silenced by death. Call out for an end to the killing. I, for one, would rather be an extremist than an accomplice.

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