Monday, January 7, 2013

Hey Pro-lifers: We are Not Winning [Serge]

I know I'll be showing my age here, and as an alum of the University of Michigan this brings back some tough memories, but I was recently reminded of an old football coach from Notre Dame - Lou Holtz.  Holtz was famous for talking up his opponents no matter how bad they were.  If Notre Dame was playing Little Sisters of the Poor of Southwest Montana, Holtz would spend his time saying how tough they were and how ND would have to play a perfect game in order to squeak out a victory.  They would then proceed to trounce them 55-0 and move on to their next "tough" opponent.  Holtz wanted to make sure that his winning team stayed motivated for the next fight regardless of what they've accomplished so far.

This cover from this weeks Time magazine reminds me of this tactic.  Unfortunately, in this scenario - we are not Notre Dame.

It seems this cover is very much like the "urgent" email alerts I receive from pro abortion choice groups that want more money.  It seems more likely to motivate the other side more than any concession that we are making solid ground

Lets take an quick look at our "winning side":

1.  The most pro-abortion choice president in history who once voted against saving infant who who born alive was reelected not by running from his pro-abortion choice advocacy but by touting it.  Any Supreme Court nominations that occur within the next 4 years will certainly strengthen the pro-RoevWade majority.

2.  We lost 2 senate seats because pro-lifers were unable to adequately articulate their views when asked about abortion in the case of rape.

3.  Our government is now mandating that all employers cover the cost of Ella, a so-called emergency contraceptive that has the same mechanism of action as RU-486.

4.  Although polls show that more people are claiming to be pro-life, their response at the ballet box continues to not support this claim.

What about the positives?  The article touts the fact that abortion providers are down and some areas of the country there is a scarcity of abortion clinics.  This may seem wonderful, but in reality it has very little impact on the numbers.  I'll use myself as an example.  There is no abortion clinic in the city in which I live so women seeking abortion need to drive 30 minutes to procure one.  There is also no abortion clinic in the city where I have another office - and this is the home of a large college.  However, women seeking abortion there have to drive about 40 minutes south to have one.  In other words, while it is true that our opponents goal of having abortion clinics as ubiquitous as Starbucks has not been that effective, abortion is still very easily obtained even in smaller cities.  The fact that an abortion minded woman needs to add an hour to her drive in order to intentionally kill her child does not seem like an awesome victory to me.

So is this simply a written version of "loser talk" that Jay never likes to hear?  Absolutely not.  The worst thing that we can do is to sit back because we believe we are on the verge of winning, when in truth there is very much work to do.  Instead of patting ourselves on the back for the small progress we've made, we need to soberly consider what else we can do.  We need to recommit ourselves to doing the hard work necessary to present the pro-life view in a true, winsome, and effective way.

I recently did the nutty thing of signing up to run my first full marathon in May.  This means that next weekend I plan on getting up at 7am when it is about 15 degrees and do a 2 hr run, followed by a dip of my legs in ice cold water while my wife and kids are eating pancakes.  What would motivate me to do such an insane thing?  Because I know that is what will be necessary to reach my goal months from now.  The worst thing I could do is to believe that I have already trained enough and am adequately prepared.  I am not, and if I'm unwilling to make the sacrifice to be prepared, I won't make it.

Most pro-life posts that I've seen are very self congratulatory and very proud of what we have accomplished so far.  Stop it!  Just get back to doing the hard work needed.


  1. We’re delusional if we think that the pro-abortion side isn’t winning. I agree with everything Rich wrote, and would add a couple more:

    1. We completely forget all the babies that are killed by chemical means instead of surgical. Abortifacent drugs are killing more babies than surgical abortions. You don’t need to go to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion. You can go to a Target or Walmart.

    2. It’s only a matter of time until some scientist in the US or foreign country discovers some medical knowledge using stem cells from aborted babies. The fact that something is evil doesn’t mean it’s not effective. After that happens, we’ll not only be anti-woman for opposing abortion, we’ll be anti-medicine. If you think it's hard being pro-life now, try opposing abortion after Americans believe that embryo-killing is necessarily for medical discovery.

  2. I must respectfully disagree with this post. Recall that the cover of the magazine reads, "[Abortion-rights activists have] been losing ever since [Roe v. Wade]”. It does not say, "Pro-life activists have won the abortion battle". Nobody is trying to claim that all aspects of this issue are lined up exactly how pro-lifers want them to be (the laws are perfectly just, the right politicians are in office, public opinion is fully in line with the pro-life position, and the number of babies being killed by abortion is virtually zero).

    It is undeniable that the results of the 2012 elections were disappointing at the federal level. However, an important thing to note is that they were not a wide scale rejection of the pro-life position. Instead, the GOP banked on the referendum model. The leadership bet the farm on the economy, avoiding social issues like the plague and leaving individual candidates to fend for themselves instead of training them to effectively communicate the pro-life message. Meanwhile, Obama was able to rally his pro-abortion base and win a second term despite record high unemployment. Marjorie Dannenflaser said it well: You cannot win a war that you do not fight.

    As for the Gallup poll numbers, they don’t show that most people actually take the true pro-life position. They also show that we have work to do in convincing pro-lifers to make this their threshold issue when casting a vote. Only 17% of self-described pro-lifers are committed enough to do so – we need that number to be approaching 100%. What they do, however, show is that pro-lifers have successfully reframed the debate in terms of the life of the unborn rather than a woman’s right to choose. This is attributable to the bitter debate over partial-birth abortion and the development of better ultrasounds, making the humanity of the unborn impossible to ignore. Certainly, most people have not yet connected all of the dots. But framing the debate is essential to winning it.

    The HHS mandate, which includes at least one abortifacient drug, is probably the strongest example of a policy change favourable to abortion proponents. However, all we need to neutralize or completely repeal it is a pro-life president in office. On the other hand, almost all of the legislation passed in 2011-12 restricted abortion. You object by suggesting that women will just travel to another city if the local abortion clinic is forced to close. But the same argument could be made about overturning Roe (at the state level) or even ratifying a Human Life Amendment (at the national level). Surely no rational pro-lifer would dismiss these as insignificant. As noted in the Time article, wider hallways doesn’t sound particularly exciting to people on either side. But the prospect of fewer abortion clinics is nothing to scoff at, especially in the states that are down to their last one. Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between abortion access and abortion incidence:

    So fewer abortion clinics means fewer lives lost.

    You also did not address several other important points in the article. Namely, abortion proponents are on the defensive and have failed to normalize the procedure they promote (which becomes harder and harder as the unborn child becomes more visible through new technology). Abortionists and abortion proponents also face a wide generational gap, but there are many young pro-life activists enthusiastic about defending the unborn.

    While you deny that your post is “loser talk”, I’m afraid that’s exactly what it seems like. I see lots of complaining about what’s wrong, but no insight into what pro-lifers need to do to end abortion or what they have/haven’t been doing effectively over the last 40 years. Without any of that, I must say that this post is no more helpful than the purely congratulatory posts that pro-lifers supposedly spend all of their time writing.


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