A famous quip, attributed to Otto von Bismarck, has it that “politics is the art of the possible.” One often hears it on the lips of pragmatic politicians and savvy strategists, and, as a practical principle, this dictum is a sound and sober counsel for those actively engaged in the messy affairs of politics.

In his opening remarks at the Building a Global Culture of Life international pro-life conference in Ottawa, John Smeaton, the director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children brought out a new dimension implicit in this familiar phrase: he said the pro-life movement’s greatest achievement is that it exists. Mere existence might seem like a strange accomplishment to cite, but Smeaton’s observation is quite insightful.

The pro-life movement has stood against a tsunami of cultural change, as an unmoving reminder to our world of the sacredness of marriage and the family, and the innocence of unborn offspring. Politics, then, is not the accomplishment of what the culture permits as possible; rather politics is the art of defining the possible itself, the art of achieving what seems impossible.

The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but the good is in no way an impediment of the perfect. Instead, every pro-life victory brings justice for the unborn closer to the realm of pragmatic possibilities. And, until our hunger and thirst for justice is satisfied, our movement remains, as Smeaton observers, a witness to the world of the absolute inviolability of human dignity.