[Today’s guest post by Conor Beck is part of our paid blogging program. Conor is a student at Rice University.]
|For an issue characterized by such passion and urgency,
there has still been no seismic shift in public opinion over the last 20 years.
What is the pro-life movement? The best definition I found is “the political, cultural, and human rights movement to end abortion and protect the sanctity of every human life.” I like this definition because it portrays the truth: laws must be enacted to protect innocent life so cruelly left unprotected, but hearts and minds must be won over too to reach a critical tipping point.
Though there is a unified Republican and therefore “pro-life” government and an increasingly pro-life American youth, we are very far from reaching a pro-life stronghold in this country, as shown above in a Gallup tracking poll. And with increasingly polarized politics, the term “pro-life” is read by some outside the movement as an attempt to force values down others’ throats. Given the gravity of abortion and how important it is to sway public opinion on this, pro-lifers everywhere need to be committed to swiftly changing tactics and appeal to people that don’t fit the traditional pro-life mold.
Pro-lifers by and large are failing at this crucial test. Though it’s become a cliché to point out that pro-lifers can do a poor job of moving the uninitiated, many are more than just unideal activists. Some make it seem they forget the cause they’re fighting for, and are frankly doing an impressive job of making saving more babies difficult.
Twitter, where many pro-life activists congregate, provides a microcosm of the pro-life movement, and proof that many self-identified pro-lifers are fighting a different battle. I saw one interesting thread where an anti-abortion conservative said he thought that white supremacy is more evil than abortion. Though he wasn’t an extremely well-known user, many pro-lifers on Twitter pounced and gawked at how wretched his opinion on abortion was: someone, may I remind you, who happened to think abortion should be illegal.
I wonder how this exchange would read to someone on-the-fence about abortion. Regardless of what actually is worse between those two, “there are things worse than white supremacy” is a horrible hill to die on. No good ever comes from this weird little “what is worse” game, and the episode paints the pro-life movement as callous and out-of-touch to the people it needs to reach the most.
I urge pro-lifers to consider this lesson when talking about pregnancies resulting from rape; I applaud pro-lifers for sticking up for babies who don’t always get support even within the pro-life movement. However, while language like “You can’t be pro-life if you support abortions after rape!” might impress pro-lifers, it will almost certainly sit poorly with people who haven’t heard a steady, sincere case against abortion. And it does not imply moral relativism to prefer that someone support saving 99% of babies from abortion rather than 0%.
It should upset no one to suggest that the mission of the pro-life movement should be to save as many babies as possible. And every iota of pro-life activism you do should reflect that; it’s not to demonstrate that pro-choicers are dumb, that feminism is gross, or that liberals are evil, or to impress other pro-lifers. It’s to save more babies. Don’t forget that.