Ben Watson, a former NFL tight end and Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, discussed his new book “The New Fight for Life: Roe, Race & A Pro-Life Commitment to Justice” and the importance of upholding the dignity of the human person in an event at The Heritage Foundation on Tuesday.

Watson said that when he heard a year ago this week that the Supreme Court had overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, his first reaction was shock. He couldn’t believe the news that had leaked seven weeks earlier, signaling the possible overturning of Roe and causing an outbreak of attacks by the Left against pregnancy resource centers, had been true. 

After his initial excitement for a post-Roe world, he immediately jumped into action and asked himself, “What’s next?” 

Watson, 43, who played 15 seasons in the NFL, ending with the 2019-2020 season, has made it his mission to not only answer that question, but to see his answer carried out in his capacity as vice president of strategic relationships with Human Coalition, a pro-life organization based in Dallas.

Now, just days before the first anniversary of the June 24, 2022, overturning of Roe, Watson shares his mission, hoping to inspire others to join the cause. 

Watson described himself as a “man on a mission” and shared that he and his family live by the motto “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly.”

In a post-Roe world, Watson translated this mission into defending and upholding the dignity of human life in all its phases. For Watson, that means not only defending the unborn, but also the mothers and fathers, the elderly, children being sex-trafficked, and many other groups of people whose dignity is not respected. 

A ‘Womb to Tomb’ Outlook

Watson believes a key way in which the pro-life movement could prosper is in widening the scope of what it considers to be “pro-life” issues in America. That’s an area, he thinks, where conservatives have hindered the progress of the pro-life movement in the past because of their strict adherence to small government. 

The message Watson wants to get out to conservatives who aren’t used to looking at pro-life issues in the context of social “safety net” spending is that “in post-Roe America, we have a tremendous opportunity to ‘cast a wider net’ and challenge ourselves.”

Advocating for responsible social spending for policies that support the flourishing of families, such as paid maternity leave and livable wages, connects back to the idea of being pro-life “from the womb to the tomb.”

Pro-Life and Race

As a black man himself, Watson wanted to approach this contentious topic from a place of authenticity and compassion for his community.

The terms “abortion” and “pro-life” are used differently in black communities than they are in white communities, Watson said. The idea of family has always been important to the black community, and because of that, black men and women are generally pro-life in sentiment.

His approach to conversations on race and abortion is to first debunk the myth that abortion has helped minority communities, citing facts and statistics about the effects that abortion on demand has had on the black community. For example, 39% of all abortions in the United States are performed on black women, despite their representing only about half of the 13.6% of the U.S. population that is black.

Watson added that half of the women who have abortions in New York are black.

Watson said he spoke with many black women when writing his book. He said they want stable housing, livable wages, and pay equal to that of their white peers. Greater economic security would reduce the pressure to abort.

Pro-Life Manhood

Watson recounted how his father taught him that men, especially fathers, are supposed to be “priest, prophet, provider, and protector” of their homes. 

Many men today regrettably do not live by that creed, Watson said. Unless men embrace their call to take charge and defend their family, abortion will not end, he added. 

While women can continue to challenge men to be good fathers and leaders of their family, Watson thinks real change will occur only once strong men call on others to take up their calling of manhood

When men start being men, Watson believes abortion will decrease and eventually be eliminated because husbands will put “marriage before carriage.” That will not only prevent abortions, but also increase marriage and family-formation rates. 

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