The Manhattan Declaration: Drawing a Line in the Sand

In the New York Times this week appeared a lengthy column subtitled “Just how pro-choice is America, really?” To which one might respond: Not very.

Pro-Aborts See Little Reason for Optimism

The writer of the column, Jennifer Senior, a self-professed “pro-choice” advocate, admits that there is little reason for her side to be optimistic. Noting that public opinion is increasingly shifting pro-life, she also points out the role technology has played in helping the pro-life cause:

As fetal ultrasound technology improved during the nineties, abortion providers, conditioned to reassure patients that the fetus was merely tissue, found it much harder to do so once their patients were staring at images that looked so lifelike.

Later, Senior admits:

[I]f you want to hear honest talk about the realities of abortion, go speak with… abortion counselors and providers. Even the most radically pro-choice will tell you that the political discourse they hear about the subject, with its easy dichotomies and bumper-sticker boilerplate, has little correspondence to the messy, intricate stories of her patients. They hear about peace and guilt, relief and sin. And it is they who will acknowledge, whether we like it or not, that the rhetoric and imagery of the pro-life movement can touch on some basic emotional truths. Peg Johnston, who manages Access for Women in upstate NY, remembers the 1st time her patients unconsciously began to co-opt the language of the protesters outside. “And it wasn’t that these protesters were brainwashing them,” she says. “It’s that they were tapping into things we all have some discomfort about.”

Toward the end of the piece, she candidly admits, “[I]t’s hard for a pro-choice person like myself to see how the ball rolls forward.”

The Manhattan Declaration: Pro-Life Christians Draw a Line in the Sand

It’s not hard to see why the other side is nervous these days, when a document like the Manhattan Declaration has already garnered a quarter of a million signatures after being released just two weeks ago.

The Manhattan Declaration is a 4,700 word manifesto written by Chuck Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George. It reiterates traditional Christian belief about three primary issues: the sanctity of human life, the the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

The declaration is summed up in its concluding paragraph:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

The ecumenical document has been signed by Evangelicals, Orthodox, and Catholics alike, including many Catholic bishops such as Cardinal Justin Rigali, Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, and Archbishop Charles Chaput.

To add your name to the list of signatories, go to

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