With Roe overturned and a right to abortion at the federal level eliminated, some pro-lifers are saying it’s time for a new phase of the movement: “Pro-Life 3.0.”
That’s the name given to an approach to pro-life advocacy that focuses on decreasing the demand for abortion through government programs and policies, instead of focusing more exclusively on limiting legal access to abortion.
Charles Camosy, a moral theologian who teaches at Creighton University Medical School and St. John Seminary in Yonkers, New York, is a chief proponent of the “Pro-Life 3.0” approach. He argues that this form of pro-life advocacy is more consistent with the breadth of Catholic social teaching and also includes possibilities for bipartisan collaboration.
While Pro-Life 3.0 represents a shift in approach, it builds on previous phases of the pro-life movement, as Camosy explained in a recent Religion News Service column. Pro-Life 1.0, he wrote, came before Roe v. Wade and was a “politically complex movement” that did not fit within the left-right political divide. Following Roe, Pro-Life 2.0 was defined largely by its fusionism, channeling political activism largely through a coalition of the religious right, small-government libertarians, and anti-communist hawks.
Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, said that the Pro-Life 3.0 approach reflects the “consistent ethic of life” that the Church and state Catholic conferences have always brought to questions of public policy.
“It recognizes that the decision to procure an abortion is multifaceted and that we must love and care for both the mother and the preborn child,” he told the Register.
By advocating in this way, Adkins said Catholics in the public square “are reintegrating what the world pulls apart,” noting that people often “cannot get their head around this concept [of public policy developed from principles of Catholic social teaching] because it doesn’t fit into traditional left-right binaries.”
Since at least one in five abortions are procured for economic reasons, Adkins said that the Minnesota Catholic Conference has focused its advocacy on policies that remove barriers to family formation and stability, such as a child tax credit. But he also emphasized that the shift of emphasis in the Pro-Life 3.0 approach can’t leave out working to restrict access to abortion.
“Creative policies that offer economic support for women in need and limit demand for abortion are necessary, but not sufficient,” Adkins said. “Advocating for childcare assistance, paid family leave and better health care does not absolve one of the responsibility to work for an end to legal abortion.”