The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization marked the biggest victory for the pro-life movement in the past 50 years. The ruling that struck down Roe v. Wade was also a loss for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. But to continue scoring pro-life victories, the movement needs to advocate for life at all stages.
Planned Parenthood’s support for defunding the police should make conservatives expand their vision of a comprehensive “womb-to-tomb” pro-life ethic. The maintenance of law and order should be seen as a pro-life issue because allowing lawlessness and disorder to spread costs lives.
The average American is appalled by open-air drug markets in San Francisco or teenagers causing chaos in downtown Chicago. But the arrests of more than 30 alleged gang members in South Jamaica, Queens, demonstrate how much violent crime affects the lives of people far from a city’s high-end retail corridors.
The gang takedown last month was the result of a lengthy investigation by the New York Police Department into a feud between two rival gangs: the Money World and Local Trap Stars. The conflict started with a slaying in April 2019. Six months later, the feud escalated after a 14-year-old boy named Amir Griffin was shot and killed in Baisley Park Houses, a public housing project in Queens.
Griffin died on a basketball court playing the game he loved. He attended Benjamin Cardozo — my old high school — and played for Ron Naclerio, the winningest basketball coach in NYC public school history. The coach expressed a reality that is familiar to many families in inner-city neighborhoods across the country: “Too many kids are getting obituaries before getting their diplomas.”
Griffin was not the intended target of the shooting, but the circumstances of his death have become all too familiar to many families. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men. At 13 percent of the population and about 50 percent of murder victims, the homicide victimization rate for black Americans is about seven times higher than the rate for white Americans.
Given the intra-racial nature of violent crime, these facts — not racist policing — explain why homicide is also the second leading cause of black male incarceration. Unfortunately, leftist critics of our criminal justice system seem to have more sympathy for perpetrators than victims.
This is why they used the death of George Floyd to argue for shrinking the size of police departments and prisons. They magnified a rare, tragic, and high-profile case to support their claim of “systemic racism” and undermine legitimate efforts to maintain civil order.
It is time for pro-life Americans of all colors to push back against this misleading rhetoric and misguided thinking. Rewarding lawbreakers and punishing law-abiding citizens is itself a form of tyranny. Anyone who claims to care about social justice should also want to protect low-income families from the individuals who make life in their neighborhoods unbearable.
I saw the difficulty of making this vision a reality while working in Washington, D.C.’s gun violence prevention office. The city used an all-of-government approach to treat gun violence as a public health crisis.
More than 90 percent of both homicide victims and perpetrators in D.C. are black. The city’s decision to describe those most likely to commit a violent gun crime as “People of Promise” is a clear example of how race complicates crime prevention strategies in many American cities.
If white supremacist hate groups were terrorizing poor black neighborhoods, there would be bipartisan calls to marshal the power of the federal government and local law enforcement to protect victims. Political pundits would never attribute the perpetrators’ crimes to a lack of economic opportunity or access to social services.
Elected officials can change laws and make policies. But aside from confinement and incarceration, they cannot prevent a person from committing a crime. They can, however, enforce the law and make it clear that criminal behavior will not be tolerated.
They can also encourage the formation of strong families consisting of a married father and mother raising their children in a loving home. Intact families improve the odds of going to college and decrease the likelihood of going to prison for children of every background.
This is why every politician should be discussing the ”success sequence.” Research shows that 97 percent of those born between 1980 and 1984 who finished high school, worked full time, and married before having children avoided poverty by their mid-30s. That message is tangible, achievable, and measurable. Teachers and counselors can teach this to children long before they decide to start a family.
Pro-life and social justice advocates should stress the importance of maintaining law and order. Without it, a small number of people who have no regard for life force hard-working families to live in constant fear of losing a child to senseless street violence.
The gang takedown in Queens should silence every college professor and political pundit pushing to defund or abolish the police. There is enough of a buffer between posh television studios and public housing projects to let them indulge ideas that lead to lawlessness. The families trying to protect their children from bullets and beatdowns do not have that luxury.