Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Pro-Choice Activist Spent Two Days as a Pro-Life Activist, Part I [Clinton Wilcox]

Pro-Choice journalist Robin Marty was invited to the Walk for Life in Washington, D.C. by Jill Stanek to see what it is pro-life people do at these events. She wasn't infiltrating; she wasn't pretending to be pro-life to deceive people and "collect dirt" on pro-life people. She was openly pro-choice at this event using this as a way to gather information about pro-life people in their element. I personally think she was very brave for doing this. If pro-life people would do the same, they might realize pro-choice people are people, too, not demons.

I've never been to the Walk for Life in DC. It may not be feasible until such time as I find a rich pro-life benefactor (or get hired to speak there). However, I did attend the Walk in San Francisco. Follow this link if you'd like to read my brief thoughts on that event. Now I'd like to offer my thoughts on some of the things Marty mentioned in her article.

Day 1

Almost right away, I noticed her (near) repetition with the term "safe, legal abortion access" (as in, pro-lifers oppose safe, legal abortion access). This is merely a rhetorical jab, as it indicates that pro-life people don't want women safe. We do, of course, want women safe. However, no woman is being forced to undergo an abortion (even a dangerous one). Since abortion is an immoral act which kills an innocent human being, this phrases confuses what is essential in the abortion issue. Thankfully she only used the phrase twice (I was afraid she'd continue to use it throughout the article to poison the well against pro-life people).

She first mentioned attending a protest outside of an abortion clinic with Father Frank Pavone and a group of pro-life activists. At the event, one Rev. Patrick Mahoney was trying to get himself arrested by violating a pro-life buffer zone law they have in the city. He actually seemed to look forward to getting arrested. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue indicated he'd love to get arrested, but he had a prior commitment.

Now, as a pro-life activist I am willing to get arrested if need be as a way to protest these laws and raise awareness of the bias against pro-life activism. However, I do not want it to happen, nor would I wish it to happen. I'm too soft to survive in jail, and I would probably let my kidneys burst before using the toilet in front of guys named Biff and Anaconda. These guys are a lot braver than I am.

There are parts of her article we can point to in order to show what not to do when you talk to pro-choice people. For example, when Marty was introduced to Newman, he asked her how she felt about having the blood of Tonya Reeves on her hands and the hands of her entire movement. However, I don't believe this to be a good statement to start off a conversation with a pro-choice person with. For one thing, she doesn't have Tonya Reeves' blood on her hands, nor does the movement. If abortion was illegal, Reeves may have still pursued an abortion anyway. Additionally, even though it is now legal, Robin Marty did not force Reeves to have an abortion. So while this may be a nice rhetorical trick, it doesn't hold up under scrutiny. It's just mean-spirited. While we want to convince people the pro-life position is true, we should aim to win the person above winning the argument (because even if you win the person without winning the argument, you've allowed her to see that pro-life people can be reasonable, which may lead her to taking pro-life people more seriously in the future and being more open to their arguments).

At any rate, Mahoney ended up not getting arrested, and Marty came to realize that pro-life people do care (at least "a little") for children after they are born.

Next she attended a die-in (something I've never been a participant in), and then to the hotel. She was struck by how many young people were in attendance at the event (she says the young people outnumbered adults 10 to 1). As I have been involved in the pro-life movement for about five years now, training high school and college students (and some older folks), I don't think I've had just an idea of how numerous the young people in the movement really are. But then again, the attendance at the DC Walk for Life always dwarfs the attendance at the San Francisco one, even with the San Francisco Walk bringing in a few tens of thousands of people. Marty really got a feel for just how young the majority of the pro-life movement is now.

Marty talked a bit about the "pro-life counterculture" that is developing, with everything from pro-life shirts to movies being made as an alternative to the mainstream. As a musician, myself, who is a Christian, I've become heavily disillusioned by the "Christian Contemporary Music" industry. For one thing, they can be just as secular as the secular counterparts, but you can't just slap Jesus on something and expect it to be good. By having this idea that we need to set ourselves apart, we've allowed the secular mainstream to put Christian artists in a box where non-Christians can be sure to steer away from. I prefer the idea that C.S. Lewis shared, that "what we want are not more little books about Christianity, but more little books by Christians on other subjects -- with their Christianity latent" (from "Christian Apologetics"). We should be writing art, literature, etc., to the best of our abilities. As Christians who recognize we are made in the image of a creative God, we should be producing the best products out there. Not specifically Christian products, but products that are a natural outpouring of our faith. Our music is not inherently better just because we say Jesus in every chorus. We don't need more art that is stuck in a box, appealing to a small subset of the population.

Jill Stanek and John Jakubczyk (don't even think about asking me how to pronounce that), a lawyer from Arizona, told her that they wanted to get into the mainstream, rather than creating a counterculture, using Frank Capra's movies as examples (It's a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington).

It's amazing what interacting with people on a personal level can do toward your hostility toward them (as we often have difficulty separating a worldview from the adherent). But on the car ride to Irish pub The Dubliner, she exchanged baby photos with Matt Yonke. She mentioned that the rest of the car tried to process the fact that the 20-week fetal-pain abortion bill was rejected (while making a dubious claim about fetal pain being rejected by many mainstream groups, though it is based on solid scientific evidence), due to some GOP members having a problem with the reporting requirements for rape victims. So the pro-life leaders who were gathered put together a sit-in inside Rep. Renee Ellmers' office (though she skipped town to avoid just such an event).

Marty finished off the first day with discussions with pro-life leaders (the "conversion portion," as she was jokingly referring it to). One person in particular is very sincere, and his work in the movement is important. But we pro-life advocates need to have a discussion regarding the best way to ask questions. Is it best to ask "why were you not instilled with values growing up" or are there other ways of approaching this? Atheists can have values. The argument is not that atheists can't be good people or lead (relatively) good lives. The argument is that atheism as a worldview can't ground morality. When we say you can't be good without God, we don't mean that a lack of belief in God will necessarily lead to immoral lives (though it can), the argument is that without God there is no way to distinguish a good life from a bad life, or a good act from a bad act. You must have an objective standard of morality for that. Accusing atheists of having no values is ridiculous and makes it more difficult to have any hope of convincing people of the truth of Christianity.

I'll conclude with my thoughts on her second day at the Walk next time.

(Edit: Changed two paragraphs slightly.)


  1. My beefs with the prochoicer were the presumption that we only opposed SAFE abortions, as if we were somehow okay with killing fetuses as long as you used a coathanger, and the presumption that we only BELIEVED Tonya Reaves et. al. to have died from safe-n-legal abortions.

  2. And yeah, the "You have Tonya Reaves' blood on your hands" was uncalled-for. We need to SHOW them that they can't trust the abortion lobby, not blame them for things the abortion lobby does behind their backs.


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