Civil war among pro-lifers?

From Some Abortion Foes Shifting Focus From Ban to Reduction – washingtonpost.com:

Frustrated by the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, a growing number of antiabortion pastors, conservative academics and activists are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions.

Some of the activists are actually working with abortion rights advocates to push for legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education — services that could encourage them to continue their pregnancies.

Their efforts, they said, reflect the political reality that legal challenges to abortion rights will not be successful, especially after Barack Obama’s victory this month in the presidential election and the defeat of several ballot measures that would have restricted access to abortions. Although the activists insist that they are not retreating from their belief that abortion is immoral and should be outlawed, they argue that a more practical alternative is to try to reduce abortions through other means.

Any ideas for how the pro-life movement should conduct itself, given Obama’s election and the failure of every attempt to ban abortion?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Kirk

    Thinking about it, I do like the new approach. I don’t think that it should be done at the exclusion of political action, but rather in conjunction with it. If the last 25 years have shown anything, putting red tape over our mouths and marching in front of the Supreme Court is only so effective. People argue, and rightly so, that pro-lifers show little concern for the pregnant woman (the victim). I think that the more compassionate that the pro-life side looks, the more heartless it makes the pro-choice side seem.

  • Joe

    “People argue, and rightly so, that pro-lifers show little concern for the pregnant woman (the victim).”

    I completely disagree with this statement. I have said before that if you don’t know all the stuff the pro-life cacmp is doing to help women in need you are not paying attention. There is a ton going on. But they do not have to be either/or options.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Joe (@2), it’s easy to blame people like Kirk (@1) — and, on occasion, myself — for “not paying attention”, but at some level pro-lifers have to take responsibility for their/our message. When I turn on the TV and hear about the “pro-life” movement, I typically see some guy in a suit condemning people and urging that Roe v. Wade must be overturned. That guy has gotten (and seemingly will continue to get) more attention than all the very loving pro-life people doing what you’re talking about.

    At some level, this will always be true. The media will always on a man talking conflict than on a thousand men doing charity work. But you can’t just give up and say that everyone should pay attention to the good things you’re doing. Why not take a cue from the secular world and get all your Christian celebrities to explicitly support your cause — wear ribbons, mention it in their awards speeches, write songs about it, do PSAs … all about helping pregnant women in need to reduce abortions.

    Sure, it doesn’t have to be either/or. In fact, it can’t be. How many average people can do diddly-squat to overturn Roe v. Wade besides a vote every now and then? How many average people can volunteer at clinics, adopt, or whatever when they’re not voting? It seems to me that the pro-life movement has expended an enormous amount of energy getting its people worked up over something they have little control over, and neglected to muster them where they could have a real effect.

    And I say this as a pro-life Christian who hasn’t done much himself, in part because I don’t know what I could do in my local area. I’ve never heard about it in my church, though I have been given pamphlets that discuss voting in a pro-life context. See?

  • Booklover

    Whoever says that pro-lifers are now trying something “new” by assisting pregnant women, has been living in a cement basement with a bag on his head. Who has been helping pregnant women all along? Pro-lifers! Not with other people’s money, not with government-funded programs, but with their own individual time and money. It was the Catholics who had the first homes for unwed mothers. It was the Catholics and the Lutherans who opened the adoption agencies. It was the Catholics and the evangelicals who opened Birthright and Crisis Pregnancy Centers. Just because the Christians weren’t hollering for government money to pay for these programs doesn’t mean they weren’t doing it all privately on their own. Please. Remove the bag and crawl out of the basement.

  • Kirk

    @Joe

    I’m definitely aware and extremely thankful for the work that Crisis Pregnancy centers do for women, and I’m certainly not saying that the pro-life movement does nothing for pregnant women. I should have been clearer in what I meant. The thrust of what I’m trying to say relates to what *the* strategy is: protests and legal action. Assisting women is, at this point, merely a facet of the larger plan. Personally, I think that the roles should be reversed. *The* strategy should be at the grass roots, assisting at-risk women so that they won’t get abortions. We should still push for legal change, but it should be what we devote 95% of our attention to.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I agree that this aint a new approach. But one thing that pro-life people really need to be doing is making sure that Christians have a right to serve families and especially women and their babies according to their conscience. The legislation which Obama has promised to pass at the beginning of his presidency could force Christians to either help with the abortion or lose their job. I’m very worried about that recent development.

  • Booklover

    For those who don’t choose to remain ignorant on the beginnings of organizations that aid pregnant women, read this:

    http://www.georgiabulletin.org/local/1990/04/26/b/

    This is the story of Louise Summerhill, founder of Birthright, which began in *1968.* ! She was a religious Presbyterian who converted to Catholicism, who was given free rental space for her care center by a Baptist! Christians have been caring for pregnant women all along without clamoring for media attention. This has been done with their own private money, time, resources, and prayer. Shame on those who have swallowed the media line that Christians only take the conflict approach.

    I used to be the media representative of Right to Life for our city. The media would interview me for half an hour and would be very disappointed when I had nothing radical or argumentative to say. They would leave in disgust, quoting me in only one tiny sound bite that was of little consequence. I finally quit the (volunteer) job and decided that raising my four boys to love God and respect women would be a more fruitful endeavor.

    The media only wanted stories of conflict and wanted to further the image of pro-lifers being mainly rabidly anti-abortion men who don’t care about pregnant women. The media was not interested in listening to a calm, loving, and rational pregnant mother of three.

    As a side note, when I was the media representative for Right to Life, I used to get regular hate mail from a man in our state. Evil does exist, and it was all in that mail. It was frightening.

  • Manxman

    Where American women need “help” is in building their character so that the babies who get aborted aren’t created in the first place. The easier we make it for women to have children out of wedlock and the less social stigma is attached to single motherhood, the more children who are candidates for abortion and abuse are going to be created. The single mother and the men who create that situation need to be seen for what they really are – a force for destruction that is literally destroying our country.

  • Kirk

    @8

    Well, you be sure to tell them. I’m certain they’d be very responsive if you let them know that they are bringing our country down.

  • Don S

    Ditto to those above who are standing up for the fact that those in the pro-life movement have been helping, on a wide-scale basis, women who are pregnant to have their little babies in a warm, loving environment, and to know that they have options other than abortion. We get a lot more than pro-life voting flyers in our church. We support three local maternity homes, both financially and with needed labor. We also go to the local abortion clinic every Saturday morning, not for the purpose of protesting abortion, but for the purpose of handing our flyers to the women approaching the clinic, just to let them know that they do have options for keeping their baby, and there are people who love them and want to help them. These maternity homes are incredible and loving ministries — they turn lives around and save countless little lives.

    The worst thing these “pro-lifers” can do is throw in with so-called “abortion rights advocates” to support legislation for social programs to support pregnant mothers. First, government programs, as opposed to private charitable programs, are the least efficient way, by far, to use resources to help people. Second, the dirty little secret is that pro-abortion advocates don’t want to promote alternatives to abortion. They fight us every step of the way, just for peacefully and quietly giving women flyers offering them alternatives to abortion. They will not take those flyers for distribution in their clinics. Planned Parenthood makes hundreds of millions of dollars per year, both in fees and government grants, for providing abortion services. It is big business, and they don’t want to lose that business. Many also are population planners — they think there are too many people and they like abortion because it reduces the population. I suspect that at least a few are also closet racists, and they like the fact that an inordinately large percentage of abortions are performed on minority women. They also typically oppose Christianity, and will not refer anyone to an openly Christian life center.

    If the approach is to concentrate on government programs, rather than private Christian approaches to helping these women, there is no hope that these women will receive the life-changing message that their true hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ and his saving grace. This would be the greatest tragedy of all.

  • Jonathan

    I disagree with Manxman @8 in part because I think it’s plain that the stigmatization of single motherhood would result in more, not less, abortions. Where abortion is legal, you can’t make having children more culturally onerous than aborting them.
    But Manxman is consistent in one interesting way. Why doesn’t the religious right strengthen traditional marriage by fighting for the repeal of no-fault divorce? It’s interesting that the religious right views same-sex marriage as a great threat to traditional marriage, when it does nothing to hamper traditional marriage. What cripples traditional marriage, it seems to me, is the easy way such marriages are entered into and dissolved.

  • Joe

    Kirk and tODD, it really is not that hard to find out what is going on in your community. I did a single Google search and found a listing of life affirming pregnancy counseling centers in the state of Oregon. It took about 10 seconds.

    googlehttp://www.lifecall.org/cpc/or.html

    I do agree that we do a poor job of publicizing the good works that are going on but that does not mean that the work is not going on as Kirk’s post suggested. Also, Kirk’s second post that 95% of the effort is expended on legal change is and that assisting women is just a ‘facet” of the plan, I think, are absurd statements. My personal experience with those committed to the pro-life cause is that they spend the vast majority of their time counseling women or providing them meals, medicine and prenatal care, etc.

    I don’t expect reporters to get it right, they have no incentive to. A story about a local church funding a home for women who have no support network and want to keep their baby should be a great news story but it never gets reported on. I am not going to yell bias, but it is either that or the assumption that that kind of a story is not going to sell ad time/space. Either way it is not going to be in the paper. I do, however, expect intelligent people to give unsupported general media assertions that pro-lifers only care about Roe some independent thought. If each one of us, disputed these kinds of claims when we heard them, we could start to change the conventional wisdom.

  • Manxman

    One of the things that bothers me greatly is how the single mother has become something of an American cultural heroine, rather than being seen as someone who has failed in a critical area of life and who is a symptom of something gone seriously wrong in our culture. A society where single motherhood is prevalent & increasing is a society on its way down the tubes. In addition to helping these mothers to attempt to raise their kids, what should be analyzed and addressed is the values, actions, ideas and attitudes they exhibited that brought them to that place. Too often the father of the kids automatically becomes the “bad guy” , but that is way too simplistic and in reality, overlooks the guilt and shortcomings of the woman involved.

    Since it is the woman who ultimately determines whether the sex act is rape or proceeds as something consensual, then SHE is the one who most directly bears the responsibility for creating children in non-rape situations. If she says “No!!” the sex doesn’t happen. It is SHE who decides whether sexual things are a romantic game or amusement in her life and decides who SHE hooks up with or bothers to marry. It is SHE who decides whether to have sex and children within the context of marriage or to treat that sex and marriage as something trivial. In the marriage, it is HER actions and attitudes as much as the man’s, that determines the quality and longevity of the marriage. At one time, in much of America, women set something of a higher standard for values and behavior. Obviously, those days are behind us, and women now are busy lowering the bar on moral standards as fast as they are able, with disastrous results. It is well past time that single mothers were held accountable for ALL the factors that they are responsible for in creating the single-mother situation and in the damage they are doing to our society.

  • http://www.HempelStudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I think that we need to show more love and mercy to single mothers. Some women who are single mothers made a mistake in their youth. Should they be stigmatized their whole lives because of it? What about a single mother whose husband was abusive or abandoned her? There are so many circumstances that we cannot make blanket statements about the poor character of single moms.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    We do need love and mercy to single moms, and if you want a great place to find it, take a look at your local crisis pregnancy center. I’ve been supporting then and serving in them for 17 years now, and quite frankly, when people tell me that pro-lifers are not active in this area, I know they’re not terribly observant.

    That said, Manxman also has a great point. The statistics on single parenting are unambiguous and bleak. Why not a bit of shame at doing that to a child–exposing them to factors like abortion, child abuse, poverty, crime, and so on? Why not a bit more shame at doing that to a lover and her child?

    Doug Wilson commented once that if a boy be raised well, the thought of becoming a father outside of wedlock, and exposing a young lady to the horrors of single parenting, ought to make him physically ill. He’s got a great point, I think.


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