Skip to comments.Is It Time To Reevaluate Pro-Life Strategy?
Posted on 01/20/2003 6:51:27 PM PST by Remedy
The 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision arrives later this month and it represents a good time to take stock of where the pro-life movement and, by extension, social conservatism, now stand.
We have a President whose commitment to the pro-life issue surpasses that of Richard Nixon; certainly that of Gerald Ford and George Herbert Walker Bush; and most likely even that of Ronald Reagan. Certainly, in their first two years in office, President Bush and his administration have taken strong stands on behalf of pro-life legislation and the Justice Department has challenged Oregon's euthanasia law.
The GOP's taking control of the U.S. Senate in last November's election and its continued control of the U.S. House are developments that have certainly been welcomed by pro-lifers, but it is no guarantee that a pro-life agenda can be achieved in this session.
For one thing, the Democrats have the numbers in the Senate to frustrate the passage of key pro-life legislation and the confirmation of federal judges who are committed to interpreting the law impartially. Nominees who are neither activist-oriented nor in line with the litmus tests demanded by the pro-abortion lobby and those Senators that do its bidding are likely to face a tough road to confirmation.
But as I had emphasized in my February 16, 1999 letter addressed to the conservative movement, I believe that we social conservatives and pro-lifers should still harbor significant concern about placing all our chips in the basket of politics. The pro-life movement and social conservatives did place most of our chips in that basket back in the 1980s and I think it is fair to say that we came away quite disappointed with the results.
This reevaluation of the pro-life strategy is long overdue and has been taking place in fits and starts for some time. But a new collection of essays that will be published later this month should help to give added momentum to the rethinking of strategy.
"Back to the Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement" (St. Augustine's Press) is edited by Teresa Wagner, a dynamic, young pro-family spokeswoman who had worked as a lobbyist for the National Right to Life Committee and as a legal and policy analyst for the Family Research Council. The reassessment examines each of the five crucial spheres that will determine the movement's future: the law, medicine and science, politics, religion and the culture.
Contributors include such respected names as Human Events editor Terence P. Jeffrey, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and my old colleagues in arms Phyllis Schlafly, James Dobson, and Dr. Mildred Jefferson. The range of contributors extends from Howard Phillips, the conservative's conservative, on the right to the thoughtful and principled syndicated columnist Nat Hentoff on the left. I'm pleased to see that former Boston mayor Raymond Flynn, a Democrat who served as Ambassador to the Vatican in the administration of Bill Clinton and who is now President of the Catholic Alliance, is one of the essayists.
My chapter discusses political engagement and in it I reflect upon my 1999 letter, making clear that the rush to interpret the letter as calling upon social conservatives to withdraw from politics was never accurate, but something promoted by the liberals in the news media. My point was that social conservatives had placed too much faith in politics and that we are no longer a 'moral majority' in the way that I had thought we were two decades ago.
There never was a call to have social conservatives stage a Dunkirk-like withdrawal from politics. The grassroots understood what I was saying about the need to develop counter-institutions not infected with the Politically Correct thinking now in vogue throughout much of society that maintains, for instance, it is not right to eat meat because a steer must be slaughtered but it is okay to abort a baby because the young child is only a "choice."
To this very day, many in the news media either miss or willfully turn a blind eye toward the developments taking place at the grassroots level that are in synch with what I had discussed and that provide hope that more and more people are dropping out of our PC society.
Social conservatives must stay politically active but we must also work harder to find new ways to change the culture. One idea in that vein is mentioned in passing in the chapter that I wrote but expounded upon in my recent commentary on "Social Marketing: The Next Frontier for Social Conservatives."
"Back to the Drawing Board" contains thought-provoking reading at exactly the right time that we should be thinking harder about how we can do more to protect life. More should be heard about this book in the coming weeks, and I hope Notable News Now readers and social conservatives will read it and give serious consideration to what the next direction of the pro-life movement should be in this new century.
(Paul M. Weyrich is chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.)
John Cavanaugh O'Keefe -- a 52-year-old Harvard graduate, Vietnam War conscientious objector, and longtime pro-life activist -- fervently believes legalized abortion in the United States will end. But not in his lifetime.
"The pro-life movement is going nowhere," says O'Keefe. "After 30 years of work, the movement is dead."
O'Keefe is not alone. "It would be both untrue and overly dramatic to say that the pro-life movement has lost," according to Teresa R. Wagner, former antiabortion lobbyist and editor of the forthcoming Back to the Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement. "But we are not winning. And the sooner we face it, the sooner we change it."
"The reason [the public is] ... not in favor of eliminating legalized abortion is that they also believe abortion somehow is necessary for the well-being of the mothers of those babies. We must break through this mother-versus-baby framing of the issue by bringing to public consciousness in every conceivable way the fact that abortion hurts women."
The memo continues: "Once the public is disabused of the notion that abortion is good for women, it will no longer face a conflict between two compelling claims. When the well-being of mothers and their babies is balanced only against the well-being of abortionists, then public opinion will be solidly behind our position. Litigation, research and even the legislative battles we choose should all be designed to show how abortion hurts women."
Back to the Drawing Board: The Future of the Pro-Life Movement is an unprecedented collection of thoughtful and sometimes painfully honest essays, evaluating the pro-life cause thirty years after Roe v. Wade. Contributing writers are the movement's most respected leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Nat Hentoff, Dr. Mildred Jefferson, Congressman Chris Smith, Phyllis Schlafly, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Paul Weyrich, and Jean Garton, among others. They are statesmen, scholars, doctors, lawyers, judges, activists and mothers. They are Evangelical Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Jewish, and Catholic. They are men and women, young and old, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican - and third party. Many are veterans, some are new; but all have labored in the effort, and care about its future.
The book is intended for the next generation of pro-life leaders, who will learn from its pages of the movement's history and current predicament. The collection's many and varied views, about the future as well as the past, invite readers to go back to the drawing board and contemplate: What now?
Foreword: Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Editor-in-Chief, First Things
Introduction: Dr. Mildred Fay Jefferson, a Founder and Past President, National Right to Life Committee
Part I: The Legal Arena
1. The Legal Profession and the Law Schools: Should We Blame the Lawyers? by Charles E. Rice, Professor Emeritus, Notre Dame Law School, Visiting Professor, Ave Maria School of Law
2. The Judiciary: Only Liars Need Apply by Terence P. Jeffrey, Senior Editor, Human Events
3. Litigation Strategies and Democratic Deliberation: Let the People Decide by Clarke Forsythe, President, Americans United for Life
4. An Appreciation of Justice Byron White (1917-2002): Seeing the Dragon Cloud by John Manning Regan, Sr., retired Judge and Past President, St. Thomas More Lawyers' Guild (Rochester, New York)
Part II: Medicine and Science
5. The Medical Profession: Reflections of the Abortion King by Dr. Bernard Nathanson
6. A View from Clinical Psychiatry: Abortion Wounds by Dr. Philip Ney, The International Institute of Pregnancy Loss
7. Long-Term Physical Complications of Induced Abortion: Breaking the Silence by Dr. Elizabeth Shadigian, Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
8. Pregnancy Help Centers, Abstinence, STDs, and Healing: Putting It All Together by Margaret Hartshorn, Ph.D.,President, Heartbeat International
Part III: Politics and the Movement
9. A History of Pro-Life Leadership: For Better or Worse by Dr. Jack Willke, President, Life Issues Institute
10. Political Engagement: An Honest Evaluation by Paul Weyrich, President, Free Congress Foundation
11. A Defense of the Republican Party: The GOP Must Do More by The Honorable Chris Smith, United States Representative in Congress (4th District, New Jersey)
12. A Critique of the Republican Party: The Republican "Lesser Evil" by Joe Sobran, Author & Columnist
13. The Party or the Movement?: Principle or Pragmatism? Phyllis Schlafly & Colleen Parro, Founders, Republican National Coalition for Life
14. The Democrat Party: Casey's Heirs and the Fall of Pro-Life Democrats by Mark Stricherz, Writer, and Raymond L. Flynn, President, Catholic Alliance
15. Another Party? Time for Constitutional Fidelity: The Constitution Party by Howard Phillips, Chairman, The Conservative Caucus
16. The Base: Letter to the Troops: The Grassroots of the Pro-Life Movement by James Dobson, Ph.D., President, Focus on the Family
17. The Liberal Voice beyond the Base: There's More to Abortion than Abortion by Nat Hentoff, Writer
Part IV: Religion
18. Religious Leadership: Where Are the Shepherds? by Jean Garton, Litt.D., Founder, Lutherans for Life
19. The Pro-Life Movement and the Jewish Community: LeChayim - To Life! Judaism Is for Life, How about Jews? by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, President, Toward Tradition
20. A Muslim Perspective: An Islamic View of Life Issues and the West by Dr. A. Majid Katme, Spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association, and Muslim Liaison for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (London)
Part V: The Culture
21. Hollywood: The Problem with Selling Half the Story by Barbara Nicolosi, Director, Act One: Writing for Hollywood
22. The Kinsey Culture: Sex-on-Demand, Abortion-on-Demand by Judith Reisman, Ph.D., President, The Institute for Media Education
23. Motherhood and the Movement: Crisis of Life? Crisis of Love! by Mary Hasson and Miki Hill, Mothers, Writers
Part VI: The Future
24. Bioethics and the Status of the Human Embryo: Two Traditions in Tension by John M. Haas, Ph.D., President, National Catholic Bioethics Center
25. A New Federation for Life: Learning from Our Adversaries by Chuck Donovan, Executive Director, Family Action Alliance
26. The International Scene: Dangerous Mischief at the United Nations: Abortion as the Law of the World by Austin Ruse, President, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute Teresa R. Wagner is a former Lobbyist with the National Right to Life Committee, and a former Legal and Policy
Analyst for Family Research Council, both in Washington, D.C.
For bulk orders, call St. Augustine's Press at (888) 997-4994. For all other purchases, call either University of Chicago Press
distributor (800) 621-2736 or St. Augustine's at (574) 291-3500; or visit www.staugustine.net or email email@example.com
Media inquiries, contact Teresa R. Wagner, Project Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (703) 393-6804
Around 1990, I would have gladly supported someone who said that he wanted to make abortion "safe, rare, and legal." I didn't begin to change my mind until a proponent of abortion told of her own pregnancy. The long version of that story is at Abortion -The Moment of Truth. The short version is that she accidently made me an opponent of legalized abortion because she made me realize that the unborn child is a person.
Many pro-lifers don't seem to understand that some of us will never really want to be parents. If I ever find myself in that role, I will do everything I can to be a good father to my children, but the notion that children are a blessing to every person is nonsense. I oppose abortion because a child's not being a blessing to me is not an excuse to kill it. Until pro-lifers can separate the fact that killing an unborn child is wrong from their own positive feelings for children, their message will remain muddled. Until the message is clear, people will see the pro-life movement as nothing more than an attempt to force a particular lifestyle on others, and they will reject that effort.
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