On January 22, 1998, it will be 25 years since the Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down. This is a birthday that should be observed. Yes, it will be a bitter-sweet occasion, but it wont be a time to hang a lot of black crepe. In many ways, it should be a celebration.
A Look Back
For those of you who were around 25 years ago, try to go back in time for a moment. Could you then have envisioned where this issue would be in 25 years? Todays situation probably never crossed our minds. It was much too far ahead to predict. True enough, but there was a current of conviction back then that was very clear. Most of us felt that we would have to reverse the Courts decision fairly promptly. We felt that if we didnt reverse it within a very few years, the practice of abortion would become embedded into the very fabric of our society and we would never be able to change it.
On balance, during these years the courts have made the situation worse. Were still killing almost every third baby conceived in America. We now have an entire generation of people in this nation whove never known anything except permissive abortion. Thats the bad news.
The good news is that were still here fighting the good fight. We see no reason to give up, and indicators are that sooner or later were actually going to win. Yes, we have given up any thought of getting that treasured Human Life Amendment in one fell swoop and suddenly protecting little babies again. Almost no one thinks that thats going to happen in the near future. Rather, almost everyone feels that this is going to be a slow, incremental process. Nevertheless, theres great optimism out there that this is beginning to happen that its not merely a dream but that we are beginning to see some light ahead.
Their Old Arguments Invalid
Much has changed in 25 years. Back then the central question that we argued was whether or not this was a human life. This argument has basically been answered. Yes, ultrasound and medical technology have gone a long way toward helping us. Nevertheless, an immense amount of credit goes to each of you reading this and to all of those whom you have helped to train, for we have educated a nation and taught them that this is truly a human life from conception. This question is not really in contention any longer.
The other major argument that this is only a religious issue still surfaces and is still thrown at us, but now with much less force. As medical developments have proven the humanity of the unborn, so parallel developments have shown this to be a human rights, a civil rights issue to more and more people.
Other arguments have fallen by the wayside. “Remember these are unwanted pregnancies who will grow to be unwanted and battered children.” That argument is essentially dead as, after 25 years, we now have, not a decrease in battered children, but an explosion of battered children and child abuse. Abortion clearly has not solved this problem.
“There are too many people in the world. The population explosion mandates abortion to control population.” For those who will listen, this argument no longer is valid, although it remains center stage, however, for Al Gore, the Clinton State Department and at the United Nations. It certainly is not valid for the US or any Western nation. With only one or two exceptions, Western birth rates are well below replacement level. The problem in the West is not too many people but rather not enough babies being born and far too many old people to take care of. Underdeveloped nations are moving rapidly in this same direction, so this argument, at least in the west, is no longer relevant.
We said it would lead to euthanasia, and they laughed at us. And so, 25 years later its leading to euthanasia. Happily, we are in the middle of a heartening move away from assisted suicide, which is euthanasia. We await its long-term outcome, but this is no longer a distant threat, and the relation of abortion to euthanasia is increasingly apparent to many people.
The argument for abortion for an assault rape pregnancy continues and remains approved by two-thirds of our citizens. The answer here is education, pointing out that there are only 200-300 such pregnancies a year in the whole US that only half of these women seek abortion, and that her chief complaint is not being pregnant but how others treat her. Our central answer of course is that we oppose killing an innocent baby for the crime of his father. Sadly, politicians continue to put this exception in law.
Their Remaining Argument Our Answer
Their only remaining argument has sadly been extremely successful. As they put it “The single most important question is, does the woman have a right to choose and keep the government out of this private matter?” For them, no other consideration trumps this argument. Well, yes, something else does, and the rising tide of our answer to pro-choice is the successful use of “Why Cant We Love Them Both”.
A look across the terrain of the pro-life movement shows a vast difference from 25 years ago. Back then, there was one Birthright office in Toronto. Today, in the US alone, there are almost 4,000 such women helping centers, 98% of whose staffing is female. Their total thrust and these make up three-fifths of the pro-life movement is to help the woman. The fact of their existence, and of the publicity we should be giving them, is in fact the cutting edge of our counter-attack to the pro-choice argument.
Research from Life Issues Institute and elsewhere clearly points the way for the next few years. We must soften the negative image given us by the public media. The best way to do this is to publicize our women helping centers. We have a 25th anniversary coming up. It can offer an unparalleled opportunity to do just that.
Cincinnati Right to Life has been in the forefront of many innovations in this movement, and they come to us again offering ideas for this 25th remembrance. Prime among these is the title they have suggested for this event, “25 Years of Loving Them Both”. We think this title can be a real public relations coup. It is positive. It emphasizes both avenues of the pro-life movement the educative, lobby and legislative branch which devotes itself to saving babies, as well as the service branch devoting itself to helping women. It is a constructive, almost joyful theme. Yes, the killing continues, and that is an unparalleled negative. But, yes, the positive aspects of this movement continue to grow and blossom, and that is truly something to celebrate. This theme offers that to the nation.
The charm of this theme is that it gives us an opportunity to explain to journalists and others the fact that three-fifths of the personnel in the pro-life movement are women dedicated to helping the woman. Only two-fifths, again mostly women, are working diligently to save babies. This tends to surprise them because our stereotyped image in the media is one of only being fetus-lovers, with no compassion for women. If January 22, 1998 can turn into a nationwide celebration with a theme such as this, it could go a long way toward changing public opinion about the pro-life movement.
Cincinnati RTL will rent a large auditorium on the evening of January 21st. Fifteen busloads, largely of students from Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, will leave their starting points and come to this auditorium to unload their occupants for a program before beginning their overnight journey to Washington, DC and the March for Life on the 22nd. There will be an entrance parade, testimony from a woman and a man injured by abortion, banners from all twelve of the local crisis pregnancy centers, from the right-to-life chapters, from the local multi-issue groups that are pro-life, from churches, college student groups, etc. However, these are details you can work out in your own area. The heart-shaped logo of “Love Them Both” is already available from Cincinnati Right to Life in posters, bumper strips, buttons, stickers and billboards.
Give it some thought. A public 25th anniversary next January could rally the troops. This can be a time for rejoicing and, most emphatically, an excellent opportunity to improve our public image nationwide.