Last week, Dr. Gerard Nadal wrote a piece on “force concentration,” which a number of pro-life bloggers found to be worth sharing. It basically posits that pro-life efforts are more effective when various groups cooperate and share resources. He’s undoubtedly correct.
But there’s agreeing with someone, and then there’s listening. If anything, pro-life infighting has only gotten worse since Nadal posted his comments. The object of everyone’s wrath? Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), which recently formed a PAC to support Democratic legislators who were initially part of the Stupak coalition but backed down after Obama promised an executive order on abortion funding. They are essentially pitting themselves against the Susan B. Anthony List, which is trying to get those same legislators voted out in the upcoming elections:
After Rep. Bart Stupak and some of his colleagues yielded to President Barack Obama and his pro-abortion allies in Congress, pro-life groups like National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List began targeting them for defeat.
They have already been successful in West Virginia, where Rep. Allan Mollohan, who enjoyed solid relationships with Right to Life officials who told him he could lose his seat if he voted for the pro-abortion health care bill, has been defeated in the Democratic primary by a candidate who made opposition to the bill a centerpiece of his pro-life campaign.
They have also endorsed pro-life candidates to take on lawmakers like Steve Driehaus in Ohio, Kathy Dahlkemper in Pennsylvania and Brad Ellsworth in Indiana.
Now, DFLA is fighting back to support some of the members and has started a political action committee to support 15 Democratic members, including Driehaus.
I have mixed feelings about this. As I’ve said, I am incredibly sick of pro-life infighting. And make no mistake, I am with the majority of legal experts, who say that the executive order is crap. A battle between DFLA and the SBA List is going to cause a considerable waste of resources that would be better spent on just about anything else, and will probably bring some bad P.R. to the pro-life movement.
But I also think the pro-life media are coming down too hard on Democrats for Life. We have to remember that DFLA, unlike other nationwide pro-life organizations, is not single-issue. Their aim is a bit different: to increase acceptance of the pro-life position within the Democratic party. With that in mind, what they’re doing makes sense. The “Stupak sellouts” aren’t what pro-life voters hoped they would be, but they’re still better than the usual NARAL-backed, PBA-ban-opposing Democratic candidates. The ultimate goal of attaining a pro-life Democratic Party is certainly a noble one; as Jason Jones (a Republican) said at January’s SFLA conference, it’s a tragedy that the pro-life flag was not firmly planted in both parties. (Update: Jones has since written his own commentary on the DFLA PAC.) The question is whether or not pursuing this goal is worth the cost: highly public pro-life infighting during a crucial election year.
I’m inclined to answer that question in the negative. But I’m not certain. I’m currently working as a research assistant for my constitutional law professor. She recently wrote a book, Courage to Dissent, which discusses infighting in the civil rights movement. Although conflict between established civil rights leaders and the student sit-in movement was undesirable in the short term, in the end the diversity of opinions may have worked to the movement’s advantage. Perhaps the same will be true for us.
What do you all think?