no weapon, gun free

Four reasons why violence will never advance the pro-life cause

“The ends justify the means.”

To many, this pithy statement serves as an infallible guideline for ethics. As long as one achieves noble ends, he may use whatever means necessary to accomplish such ends.

Contrary to what some might think, the vast majority of Americans connected with the pro-life movement are peace-loving, nonviolent, and honorable citizens. They would never raise a weapon or a fist on even the most barbaric practitioners of abortion.

Photo credit:  ProgressOhio on Flickr
Photo credit: ProgressOhio on Flickr

The secular-progressives accuse us of waging a “war on women,” but our warfare is not a warfare of flesh and blood (and it’s not against women). It’s a war of ideas, and even when we bend over backwards to obey the laws of our land and to demonstrate peace, the pro-abortion forces continue to label us as insensitive, intolerant, and even violent.

Even if you’re one of the millions of peaceful Americans connected with the pro-life movement, it’s quite possible that, in the quietness of your soul, you’ve asked the question, “Are we really doing enough for the unborn?”

In the midst of your inquiry, perhaps you’ve even been tempted to think that violence against pro-abortion forces might yield desirable results. Perhaps you’ve reasoned that, because of the worthiness of our cause, we should be willing to exercise any and all means necessary to liberate the unborn. You may have reasoned that the ends justify the means.

If you’ve been tempted to wonder about such things, let me provide some reasons why we cannot fight violence against the unborn with violence against the born. Simply put, violence is never the answer. (While it’s clear that the vast majority of pro-lifers agree with me and would never resort to violence, it’s important for each of us to be able to explain exactly why violence is wrong.)

1. Violence always has the potential of harming innocent bystanders.

Whenever a movement stoops to using bombs and guns to advance a cause, there’s a significant risk that innocent lives unconnected to the horrors will be caught in the crossfire. Abortion is heinous because there is no human being more innocent than an unborn child. Yet a very tiny – and wrong – minority of pro-life activists is willing to risk harming or even killing innocent people in order to protect other innocent people.

Furthermore, when people resort to violence, they risk the most horrendous scenario of all: killing those they are trying to save. If a pro-life advocate bombs an abortion clinic and even if he warns the staff that there’s an explosion coming, how can he be positive that there aren’t any pregnant ladies left on the premises? How can he be positive that he himself is not demonstrating the highest form of hypocrisy in killing an unborn child himself?

2. Violence will have only limited effectiveness, if it can be said to have any effectiveness at all.

If one abortion doctor is shot, the pro-abortion cause is not threatened. There are thousands of other abortion doctors in other places who will continue to perform the same procedure. Even if one Planned Parenthood clinic is bombed, the pro-abortion cause is still not threatened. There are hundreds of other clinics around the country that will continue to provide abortion on demand.

If anything, violence only furthers the pro-abortion cause. Pro-choice forces are emboldened by the hypocrisy of a very minuscule portion of pro-life zealots who choose to advance their cause through violence. When abortion advocates see violence from our movement, they are motivated to stand even stronger for “reproductive rights.”

Basically, not only is violence hypocritical and wrong; it also accomplishes nothing.

...or how large. Every life is precious and ought to be protected.
…or how large. Every life is precious and ought to be protected.

3. Violence sends the wrong message.

There is a reason that we are part of the pro-life movement. We’re not just anti-abortion or anti-reproductive rights; we’re for life, regardless of at what stage of development that life happens to be. When a pro-life advocate commits violence, his actions speak louder than his words. The pro-abortion forces quickly recognize that this pro-life activist does not really stand for life at all, but instead stands for death and bloodshed.

As a pro-lifer, I am committed to the belief that all life is precious, even the life of an abortion doctor. It is true that, in many cases, our justice system orders the execution of those who commit murder, but we are not the executioners. In our abortion-saturated culture, we ought never be the vigilantes, but instead the ambassadors of life and peace.

4. Violence removes all hope of change.

As the defenders of the unborn, we ought to commit ourselves to justice. By the same token, we ought to commit ourselves equally to mercy. Some of the staunchest defenders of abortion – even some of those who are personally responsible for the most horrific abortions – have changed their minds about the unborn.

Consider, for instance, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who claimed that he personally presided over approximately 75,000 abortions. After becoming one of the most influential voices in the pro-abortion movement, he later recognized the error of his ways and became a champion of the cause of life.

If we don’t believe that people can change, all of our work on behalf of the unborn is in vain. If we don’t believe that people can change, why do we lend a helping hand to women who are considering abortion in crisis pregnancies? Or why do we use our spheres of influence to warn others of the dangers of having an abortion? Or why do we support candidates and legislation in order to prevent more deaths of unborn children?

We do all that we do because we are confident that politicians, abortion doctors, and pro-choice zealots can be persuaded to change.


So, are we doing enough for the unborn? Most likely not. There is still much work to be done. But violence is never the answer. The work that we must do cannot be achieved through knives, guns, and bombs, but through deep and abiding core principles.

These core principles dictate to us that every single human life is precious and worth protecting – whether that life is the victim of abortion or the practitioner of abortion.

  • ” “The ends justify the means.” To many, this pithy statement serves as an infallible guideline for ethics. ”

    You sure decided to launch this piece with some leaky logic. I’d love to be introduced to the person who thinks this Machiavellian concept is “infallible”. He/she is likely borderline sociopathic. Using that pretext has lead to some of the real horrors in human history. Most people know that when using the phrase. Even Ph.D students.


    Dear NIck,

    I cannot believe that you even raised this issue so that we can be pilloried again. Violence is not the pro-life way, though it has been portrayed as such by the media – the same media that failed to mention half million (mostly young) prolifers marching along the National Mall this Jan 25th. is a site where you can read histories of abortionists who have murdered family members and sexually assaulted clients. You do know that murder is the #1 cause of death of pregnant women – usually women who would not submit to having an abortion? 64% of women who have had abortions, say that they were coerced into it. It is laughable to consider that anyone who has murdered could have been pro-life. Anti-abortion might be a better term. Psychotic would be even more fitting.

    This fear of being associated with violent extremists is probably why Christians have largely kept their distance from pro-life activism. Please NIck, do not perpetuate this myth

    • Nick Claxton


      Thank you for your concerns. I realize that there probably is a great deal of pro-choice violence that is largely ignored by the mainstream media. But the fact is, there are people who claim to be pro-life who demonstrate violence to advance the cause. As I am careful to point out in this article, it is an extremely small minority of people. It must also be admitted that such people cannot really claim to be pro-life if they are advancing their agenda with death.

      As a pro-life person, I find that the violent actions of extremists do far more to harm our cause than to advance it. When it comes to hypocritical, so-called “pro-life” violence, we need to be the loudest ones speaking against it.

      I’m definitely not discouraging pro-life activism. If I were against that, I certainly wouldn’t be contributing to a pro-life web site. But our activism will only succeed if it opposes violence in all forms, even vigilante violence against abortionists. This article is not a call to abandon activism, but to strengthen it by living lives that are consistent with the convictions that we so vehemently declare.


        I still say Nick, that you are perpetuating a myth. Here is some information about created myths, by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founding member of NARAL and abortionist turned pro-lifer (its long):

        to Dr. Peter Saunders’ blog: ‘How Many Women Really Died From Abortions
        Prior to the Abortion Act?” published on 17th June 2012
        Dr. Saunders can be reached at [email protected]

        Rosengarten17 June 2012 12:23

        Very interesting – what you write has been confirmed by Dr Nathanson in the US.
        Gynaecologist Nathanson was a key person involved in legalising
        abortion in the US. He supervised the largest abortion clinic in the
        world in the early 1970s in New York City. In the first year, this
        Center performed more than 60,000 abortions. Dr Nathanson became
        deeply troubled by the insight that he had presided over 60,000 deaths
        and changed his position to being anti-abortion.
        Dr Bernard Nathanson was very open on how the abortion movement
        started with lies: “We fed the public a line of deceit, dishonesty, a
        fabrication of statistics and figures. We succeeded [in breaking down
        the laws limiting abortions] because the time was right and the news
        media co-operated. We sensationalized the effects of illegal abortions
        and fabricated polls, which indicated that 85% of the public favoured
        unrestricted abortion, when we knew it was only 5%. We unashamedly
        lied, and yet our statements were quoted [by the media] as though they
        had been written in law.
        There was only silence from the opposition. We fed a line of deceit,
        of dishonesty, of fabrication of statistics and figures; we coddled,
        caressed, and stroked the press. (…) We were calling ourselves
        pro-abortionists and pro-choice. In fact what we were was abortifiers:
        those who like abortion.’
        The discussion … has been muddied by a resort to a particularly
        vicious brand of anti-Catholicism, as many of you know, in the press.
        There have been ongoing attempts to paint this movement [the pro-life
        movement] as a Catholic movement, and there have been almost
        heartbreaking lies and libel in the press on this score. If you ever
        substituted for the word Catholic, in many of these publications, the
        word Jewish of black, you would be immediately castigated. The press
        would destroy you. However, because the word Catholic is used, it
        appears to be allowable.
        Why did I change my mind? Well, to begin with, it was not from a
        religious conviction … I am an atheist … In any case, the change of
        mind began with the realization, the inescapable reality, that the
        foetus, that embryo, is a person, is a protectable human life. The
        change also began on the basis of my own secular belief in the golden
        rule: if you would not have your own life taken away from you, you
        must not take someone else’s life.” (Dr Nathanson is quoted in John
        Powell, Abortion: The Silent Holocaust, 1981.)

        and, regarding maternal mortality – The statistics of maternal
        mortality due to self-induced abortion were grossly exaggerated. Dr
        Nathanson writes, ‘How many deaths were we talking about when abortion
        was illegal? In NARAL (National Association for Repeal of Abortion
        Laws) we generally emphasized the drama of the individual case, not
        the mass statistics, but when we spoke of the latter it was always
        5,000 to 10,000 a year. I confess that I knew the figures were totally
        false, but in the “morality” of our revolution, it was a useful
        figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with
        honest statistics?’ The official figure of maternal death due to
        illegal abortion before abortion was legalised was 160. Dr Nathanson
        estimates the actual figure to be around 500 maternal deaths per year,
        similar to the figures Dr Saunders has unearthed.
        (quotes from Bernard Nathanson, Richard Ostling, Aborting America,
        Pinnacle Books, New York, 1979)

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  • Violence is never the answer to a problem regardless what side you are on