Life in the Marketplace of Ideas
Turning the Tide in the Abortion Struggle
What characterizes the imaging, video, and communications technologies that are turning the tide in the abortion debate is that they merely capture and disseminate the truth. Pro-abortion rhetoric is crashing against the shoals of reality. The womb is no longer a black box. The only way to countenance abortion is to shut our eyes to the very real miracle of life inside the womb. The more that open minds are exposed to the truth, the more they are prepared to defend life.
Two videos nicely capture the abortion battle amongst young people today. In the first, which shows demonstrations in support of Planned Parenthood, a young woman explains that abortion does not concern a baby, since "a baby is a fetus that has been born." (The magical transformation theory again.) Another young woman is perfectly willing to speak of aborting a baby, but "a baby's going to get in the way of the job I need to get." The schizophrenia of the pro-choice position, its callousness, its willful disregard for the interest of the child, is becoming more obvious everyday.
The second video shows the growing pro-life movement amongst college students. Of course, both videos come from pro-life sources, and the editing is strategic—yet the difference in atmospherics is true to my experience. Pro-choice demonstrations are fueled in large measure by hatred for pro-lifers, especially conservative Christians. "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries," the young people chant. Much of the rhetoric has the militant superficiality and recycled rebelliousness of an angry 1970s feminism. The pro-life demonstrations are more hopeful and idealistic, focused not on condemning a caricatured image of the opponent, but on saving innocent human life. As David French, a Patheos columnist, tells the college students, "You are a defender of the defenseless. You want the unwanted. This is who you are. This is what you do." This is much more appealing than "Abortion on demand and without apology."
The young pro-lifers today believe they can change the culture, to change the law, to change the world. When Roe was passed in 1973, it did not follow a clear constitutional imperative so much as it expressed the moral and spiritual culture emerging from the 1960s. Now a new culture is emerging as more pro-life generations rise up to claim a greater share of influence. As Alveda King, whose uncle Martin knew a bit about popular movements, observes in the second video, "When you see the young people come on board, then you know that victory is on the way."
In the next part of this series, I will discuss the way forward. But there is a way forward. The culture of life in America is in renaissance, and the children of that renaissance are turning the tide.
Dr. Timothy Dalrymple is the Associate Director of Content at Patheos, and writes weekly on faith, politics, and culture for Patheos' Evangelical Portal. Follow him at his blog, Philosophical Fragments, on Facebook or on Twitter.