Being in jail – isn’t it just a waste of time?

The group Protect Life believes that non-violent direct action is both necessary and right in order to bring about the end to the open practice of abortion in our society: necessary, because we do not believe that simply saying that abortion is the killing of babies will, by itself, stop the killing taking place; and right, because we believe that intervening to help an innocent human being who is about to be killed is always the correct thing to do.

However it is clearly the case that if a person repeatedly engages in such action, then sooner or later they are certain to find themselves locked in prison for their efforts. And based on the American experience, the more times the actions are done and the more effective the actions are in stopping abortions being carried out, the longer the jail terms become.

So anyone considering taking this course of action should do so only after they have come to fully recognise that if they should persist in regular direct intervention to stop abortions, they will spend considerable periods of time in prison as a consequence.

Given that that is the case, it can then be reasonably asked: if as a consequence of carrying out these actions pro-lifers should end up being detained in prison for significant amounts of time, can the actions be considered to be warranted? After all, when a person is sitting in a jail cell isn’t their time just being wasted? The talents they may have that could be utilised in other pro-life pursuits cannot be put into much use from prison.

It is correct that being in jail does severely curtail a person’s normal contributions to society generally and to the protection of the preborn in particular. The assumption can easily be made then that time spent in jail must therefore be wasted time. However, such a conclusion does not necessarily follow: appearances can be deceptive.

It is not easy, perhaps not even possible, to tell just what course of action may make the greatest contribution to the ending of the practice of abortion. While that may be true, it does not seem to be so difficult to determine what is a right response to the killing of the innocent. We at Protect Life believe, as we would assume all other Christians do, that it is always indisputably right to try and directly help someone who is about to be unjustly killed. And if it is right to do so, we do not believe it stops being right just because for some reason the state may penalise you, even jail you, for doing so.

We would hold that virtually by definition, doing that which is right can never be a waste of time: doing what is right is always a good thing. If it so happens that a penalty should be incurred for doing what is right, then having to pay that penalty may be highly undesirable, very onerous, and completely unfair, but nevertheless we would not accept that it would be a waste of time.

Far from it: we believe that even sitting in jail does contribute very positively to the ultimate goal of seeing attitudes to the practise of abortion changed. For one thing, it helps bring into sharp focus for everyone the question, just what value do preborn children really have? Of course, in answering that question many may conclude that those sitting in jail for the preborn are fools and that they are only getting what they deserve. Others though, especially those in the Christian community, may be challenged to think more seriously about what is actually being allowed to go on. (Which are ultimately more important – human lives or personal freedoms?)

But in the end, regardless of whether any apparent improvements occur or not, making a stand for what is right remains the right thing to do. In this instance the stand is for the protection of innocent young human lives – surely one of the most important stands that can be made.

There are many worthwhile things we can do with our lives. Sitting in jail is normally not one of them but when it is done on behalf of the preborn, it is no waste of time.