Time to change pro-life tactics?

posted at 6:46 pm on May 2, 2012 by Dustin Siggins

Over the last 40 years, the pro-life movement has had its ups and downs. On the one hand, the Supreme Court made abortion a so-called “right” in 1973, and the number of legal abortions skyrocketed from around 700,000 at that time to 1.6 million in 1990. On the other hand, recent numbers show young people are more pro-life than ever, and across the country states (in addition to Members of Congress) are pushing strong pro-life legislation.

One such state is Mississippi. On April 16, the state’s new governor signed legislation that, in the words of Politico, “requires all physicians at abortion clinics in Mississippi to be board-certified OB-GYN and to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.”This is both a victory and a “teachable moment” for the pro-life movement.

What is this teachable moment? Most importantly, that pro-life legislation should emulate the principles around that which passed in Mississippi, and a similar law in Virginia before it, that is as foolproof as possible from the demonizing tactics of the left. In other words, ultrasound legislation can be deemed as guilting mothers into not aborting their children or invading personal privacy. However, it is more difficult to argue against raising the standards of medical clinics so that women have a more sterile, more professional environment in which to be treated. Yes, the left will still attack these standards, as the owner of the abortion clinic in Mississippi has, but the inherent controversy will be far less.

There are four other things I believe pro-lifers should keep in mind that are tangentially related to the lesson Mississippi has provided, and which are directly related to convincing a culture that is largely indifferent about abortion to become pro-life:

  • First, stop using Biblical arguments to debate abortion. As I noted after attending the 2010 March for Life, I do not think using religious arguments will persuade either self-described Christians who agree with abortion or non-Christians who agree with abortion. The science of life is in our favor, and we should emphasize this. This is not meant as a denigration or repudiation of religious work or prayer done to protect life – I am a strong Catholic who has participated in prayer protests at two abortion clinics – but a practical recognition of living in a society with both a guaranteed freedom of religion and many people who do not possess a Christian-based belief in the sanctity of unborn life.
  • Do a better job of educating people about responsible sexual activity prior to becoming pregnant and having an abortion. Related, explain better to both the public and individuals the help and care that can be provided so women will not feel as though abortion is their best – or only – way out of an irresponsible pregnancy. I believe the best way to prevent an abortion is to take away the alleged “need” for it, which is why I wanted Indiana governor Mitch Daniels to run for President – reforming and shrinking the federal welfare state is critical to taking away incentives to act in certain irresponsible ways, and if people act more responsibly when it comes to sex, the number of abortions will drop.
  • Get people like Randall Terry out of the movement. Shock and awe have their place, as does presenting difficult truths, but indiscriminately throwing up images of dead babies will cause most people to simply turn and look in the other direction. Again, the majority of Americans are pro-choice, pro-abortion, or indifferent to the debate and just want it to go away. Used correctly, the shock and awe strategy can be effective… but often less so than engaging in a strong, purposeful, respectful discussion.
  • Stop making abortion about women vs. children. Both are victims when it comes to abortion. First, every time a pro-life activist blames a woman for having an abortion, that activist should in the same breath blame the men who get women pregnant and then either abandon them or encourage them to abort the child. Second, we should make the battle about protecting women and unborn children from the abortion centers whose livelihood depends on the murder of their fellow man. The unfortunate fact is that we live in a nation where abortion is legal, and much of the public either favors it or is neutral on the debate. Focusing solely on the women involved makes it even easier for supporters of abortion to successfully claim a false “war on women,” which makes creating a culture of life that much harder.

The pro-life movement is gaining ground, and the desperation of the pro-abortion left after the temporary decision by Komen to defund Planned Parenthood is indicative of this. However, if we continue to make the kinds of tactical errors I describe above, millions of babies will die before America becomes a culture of life instead of a culture of death. The pro-life movement must adapt its strategies appropriately, and soon, in order to protect as many mothers and unborn children as possible.

[This post was published in its original form by Crisis Magazine.]

 

Dustin Siggins is an associate producer with The Laura Ingraham Show and co-author with William Beach of The Heritage Foundation on a forthcoming book about the national debt. The opinions expressed are his own.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Comment pages: 1 2

BradTank on May 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM

So no lives at all would be saved by sending the issue back to the states? Ultimately I would like to see abortion made unconstitutional (through an amendment), but I’ll take any saved lives I can get.

NotCoach on May 2, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Get people like Randall Terry out of the movement.

How do you do that?

Jack Squat Bupkis on May 2, 2012 at 9:22 PM

They dismiss the Bible as irrelevant. How can you have a convincing argument if the other side won’t listen to you. The whole goal is to convince (or at least start a discussion) that your position is the correct one, not to spout your religious viewpoint.

mak1 on May 2, 2012 at 8:57 PM

Obviously, if you start quoting chapter and verse, you’re going to lose some people. But the moral argument is likely to be virtually identical in content, even if it is completely secularized.

Meanwhile, on the left, the phrase “my brother’s keeper” keeps cropping up. If Biblical language is poisonous, why is the secular left using it?

RightKlik on May 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Of course it would. I’m burdening your most important possession and literally your only recourse is to kill me. How or why I got there doesn’t matter. An unintentional infringement is still an infringement. Why should a person’s recourse to that be subject to an irrelevent condition like the intent of the infringing person?

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Not counting rape, do people get pregnant against their will? Your argument is ridiculous because it assumes a woman has no control over whether or not she gets pregnant.

NotCoach on May 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Only in the last decades of the 1800′s did an organized push against abortion legality actually take place.

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 8:04 PM

Abortion was illegal under common law before there was specific state legislation. Try again.

NotCoach on May 2, 2012 at 9:30 PM

There is no such thing as a “prerequisite” right because rights are not defined in relationship to each other.

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 8:13 PM

Except for the fact that when one right comes in conflict with another one of them will win out. And in just about all legal matters (except for abortion) life trumps all other liberties. And rightly so since no other liberty is possible without life.

NotCoach on May 2, 2012 at 9:33 PM

Guess what, champ: I don’t give a sh*t. A person’s own body is their most important possession.

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 7:19 PM

I call BS. You don’t believe that at all…

Because the mother isn’t killing herself, she’s killing another person! The fetus is NOT part of her body!

dominigan on May 2, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Of course it would. I’m burdening your most important possession and literally your only recourse is to kill me. How or why I got there doesn’t matter.

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Absolutely WRONG.

If someone maliciously invades my home, I am within my rights to shoot them dead.

If I invite someone into my home and shoot them dead without malicious actions on their part, I am guilty of murder.

Now for the kicker…

If someone maliciously invades my home, and bring along their infant, drops them on the floor and advances toward me with malicious intent, I am within my rights to shoot the invader dead. I am a murderer if I shoot their infant on the floor.

dominigan on May 2, 2012 at 9:55 PM

I agree with this, but science alone cannot explain the moral value of human life, whether the argument comes from a secular or religious perspective.

RightKlik on May 2, 2012 at 8:27 PM

The article the other day that Allahpundit hoping would convince us that religious people are heartless actually said that non-religious people need an emotional connection in order to extend help. Knowing more about the life of the fetus will establish that connection, much better than making a moral argument.

pedestrian on May 2, 2012 at 10:03 PM

You know what I get tired of? People on the sidelines telling the pro-life movement what to do and how they ought to proceed. The next generation coming up is far more pro-life than the previous one.

As for Biblical language, the only reason that we will ultimately honor human life is if we understand that our rights come from Almighty God, our Creator. Because, if not, people are more than happy to ignore science to comfort their own lives.

Tell you what, Dustin, you want to do a pro-life movement the way you say it should be done, start your own group, build it, establish pregnancy centers. I have little interest in advice from the peanut gallery. If you want to be taken seriously: Get in the game.

adamsweb on May 2, 2012 at 10:11 PM

Guess what, champ: I don’t give a sh*t. A person’s own body is their most important possession.

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Then, you are not a Conservative. Period.

kingsjester on May 2, 2012 at 10:20 PM

If I choose to quote from the faith of 78% of the American people to cement my argument as to the sanctity of life, that ais my inalienable right, endowed by my Creator.

kingsjester on May 2, 2012 at 6:58 PM

It is, but it also hampers the cause. If you emphasize a religious argument, it is as if you are arguing, “This should be illegal, if only because it goes against my religious beliefs.” We know from science that a new human being’s life begins at fertilization. Those who oppose abortion should center everything around that.

bmmg39 on May 2, 2012 at 11:11 PM

It is, but it also hampers the cause. If you emphasize a religious argument, it is as if you are arguing, “This should be illegal, if only because it goes against my religious beliefs.” We know from science that a new human being’s life begins at fertilization. Those who oppose abortion should center everything around that.

bmmg39 on May 2, 2012 at 11:11 PM

It is actually an easy argument to win in terms of liberty as well.

NotCoach on May 2, 2012 at 11:22 PM

For those pro-lifers who utterly oppose the use of graphic images of dead babies, I offer this argument.

OhioCoastie on May 2, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Graphic images have their place in the overall case for life.

OhioCoastie on May 3, 2012 at 12:03 AM

I already explained this to you: the ownership and defense of property is a fundamental right. A fundamental right is not and cannot be contingent on some external factor; it is apparent by virtue of itself. It is self-justifying. The intent of a “person” (allowing for the subjective belief that the fetus can even be considered that) committing an infringement against that right is such an external factor.

Armin Tamzarian on May 2, 2012 at 7:51 PM

So, if you find a hobo sleeping in your car, you’re allowed to murder him in whatever way you find most enjoyable. Right?

joe_doufu on May 3, 2012 at 12:07 AM

But if zygotes and blastocysts are really babies, then abortion is premeditated murder. And while not all cases of premeditated murder end up with the death penalty, its not inconceivable that a few pro life judges would hand out the death penalty. If not for the mother, then definitely for the doctor.

Ric on May 2, 2012 at 8:36 PM

I think you guys are worried too much about this issue. The day abortion becomes illegal, the abortion mills are not going to operate as usual. The “doctors” who continue to perform abortions will know they are doing something wrong. The mothers who seek out illegal abortions will know they are doing something wrong. The situation does not compare to today, where you have teenage girls being told by practically everybody that it’s not a baby, you’re not killing it, it’s just a medical procedure, etc. The punishments we’re talking about seem very harsh if you assume the perpetrator is like one of these girls today, who don’t know what they’re doing, aren’t being told it’s wrong. In a nation that declares abortion to be murder, only the truly wicked will seek abortions. And to the extent that young girls are “tricked” into thinking it’s not a murder, they should be able to get reduced punishments.

joe_doufu on May 3, 2012 at 12:23 AM

Please tell me you’re not stupid enough to think that it matters.

The law means what the law says. If you establish personhood, you’ve established a Constitutional prohibition against abortion, period. If you don’t like it, amend the Constitution. I’m sure the Founding Fathers weren’t thinking of protecting the lives of foreign tourists either, but they still get the same protection nonetheless.

Being a conservative that believes judges should take an originalist interpretation, yes, I do think it “matters” what the original meaning of the Amendment was.

Your arguments that the Founders were making some sort of backdoor prohibition for abortion in the 5th amendment of the US Constitution are incredibly stupid.

You can’t pretend the US Constitution specifically bans abortion any more than you can pretend the Constitution gives Americans an absolute right to abortion. Talk about a slipper slope.

Guess what? The Founders didn’t address the issue of abortion in our founding document. They meant for the states to decide issues such as this.

BradTank on May 3, 2012 at 12:35 AM

It is truly pathetic that in the year 2012 there are still some people in this country that want the government to be in charge of pregnancy.

It is never going to happen because you are a minority. A far minority. Even being pro-life doesn’t automatically mean one wants the government to be in charge of pregnancy.

First, stop using Biblical arguments to debate abortion.

HA. Good luck with that one. The only people that support this nonsense are overchurched nuts. The American Taliban punching us all in the face with their Bibles.

Moesart on May 3, 2012 at 12:43 AM

…non-religious people need an emotional connection in order to extend help. Knowing more about the life of the fetus will establish that connection, much better than making a moral argument.

pedestrian on May 2, 2012 at 10:03 PM

Scientific facts can be used to buttress either position — pro-abortion or antibortion. That’s one of the reasons this debate continues to rage. Relying primarily on science isn’t going to work.

But I agree that emotional considerations are of primary importance. For the vast majority of people, emotional/intuitive thinking is directly and inseparably connected with moral thinking.

RightKlik on May 3, 2012 at 12:57 AM

But I agree that emotional considerations are of primary importance. For the vast majority of people, emotional/intuitive thinking is directly and inseparably connected with moral thinking.

RightKlik on May 3, 2012 at 12:57 AM

What our society needs a lot more of is SHAME.

joe_doufu on May 3, 2012 at 1:04 AM

Using graphic images in public is quite common. Unless they show abortion.

OhioCoastie on May 3, 2012 at 1:21 AM

Using true images to identify, condemn, and prevent genocide is very, very, very common.

OhioCoastie on May 3, 2012 at 1:24 AM

This Siggins fellow sure thinks highly of himself to lecture pro-life people on how they should behave. If I gave a rat’s a$$ I might even investigate who the hell he is and why he thinks his opinion is just so damned important to the world. Nah, I’ll just ignore him and do what I know to be right. He can go pontificate elsewhere.

swinia sutki on May 3, 2012 at 5:46 AM

Save the Storks!

Blacksoda on May 3, 2012 at 7:41 AM

I believe that as a true conservative, this is matter of privacy, between a women and her doctor. I do not believe we can ever stop abortion from being legal.

What we can do is work on reducing the number of abortions. We need to educate our children, and offer viable alternatives to pregnant women. These babies are wanted by someone, just not their biological parents. If we could match adoptive parents with unwanted pregnancies, maybe we could accomplish some good out of this.

arondeuce on May 3, 2012 at 11:49 AM

I believe that as a true conservative, this is matter of privacy, between a women and her doctor. I do not believe we can ever stop abortion from being legal.

arondeuce on May 3, 2012 at 11:49 AM

There’s a word for this kind of “true conservative”, and the word is “Whig”. Your kind used to say that you didn’t believe we could ever stop slavery from being legal.

joe_doufu on May 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM

joe_doufu on May 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM

It’s a shame that your comment came so late in this thread. Your comment really needs to be highlighted on the next abortion thread. VERY good response!

dominigan on May 3, 2012 at 4:40 PM

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