regularly meet to discuss the intimidating task of developing a sound messaging
program to effectively reach members of their communities. Which key words will
connect with women the most? How do we handle the most difficult questions with
the appropriate amount of care? Often overlooked in all this is that simultaneously,
as a foil to this work, abortion rights advocates are meeting in these very
same communities, discussing these very same issues of messaging. Just as
pro-lifers grapple with how to message about issues such as restricting
reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy, and abortion in the case of rape, conversely, abortion rights activists are laboring to present their views on
parental consent, late-term abortion, and public financing of abortions in the
most palatable terms to the general public.
understand our opponents’ viewpoints and be prepared for the types of messaging
young women at risk for abortion may be hearing, our Students for Life group
decided to secretly infiltrate a NARAL training session in California.
What we encountered there was a pro-choice movement that is both shrewd in its
marketing and emboldened in its goals.
politically savvy. The issue of abortion was highly shrouded in the language of
social justice. The “lived experiences of women” and “meeting women where they
are at” were highly emphasized. It seemed that the objective question of “the
morality of abortion” was countered with the subjective “lived experiences” of
women obtaining abortions—as if obtaining an abortion was a form of identity,
that could not be understood or questioned beyond the person experiencing it.
Euphemisms were also used abundantly. As the trainer noted, while many
Americans do not mind abortion being legal, a clear majority of Americans have
strong ethical qualms with abortion. As such, the word “choice” can lose its
power if many people view the choice as immoral. Therefore, incorporating more
universal terms such as “economic security” can be more effective. As pro-lifer
writer Jill Stanek has noted, “The pro-choice movement has been reduced to
euphemisms about euphemisms.”
parental notification, the trainer noted that many parents do not feel that
their children should have rights to abortion, prioritizing their child’s
safety over their child’s personal privacy. She added that it’s important to
relay to the parents, that of course their
kid will come to them, but what about children who are more unfortunate and
don’t have anyone to trust? Never mind that they’re advocating for the right of
all children to circumvent their
parents; at least the parents they’re talking to feel good about their kids.
For someone willing to be so disingenuous with parents, she was strikingly
honest with us about these tactics.
|Above: Pro-abortion signs with “access” messaging|
conversation has shifted as the pro-choice has become more dissatisfied with
the status quo and more emboldened in their policy goals. Long gone are the
reverence for the trimester regime of Roe, the regulations provided for by
Casey, the consensus of Hyde and the cautious verbiage of the 90’s which sought
to make abortion “safe, legal and rare.” In their absence, “accessibility” has become the catch-all word. The NARAL spokeswoman made it
clear that this prioritization of accessibility is the main driver behind
2018’s SB 320 in California, and the 2016 Democratic party platform, explicitly
including the overturning of the Hyde Amendment. When directly asked about this
by one of our members, the spokeswoman said that assuming a Democratic victory in
2020, the overturning of Hyde will be a top legislative priority in 2021. She
also acknowledged that she never imagined a day when two national candidates
would both advocate overturning Hyde. How far we’ve come. It is clear to us,
that within the next 5 years it is highly likely that the battle over Hyde will
be the front lines in the abortion debate.
question to arise. Ever since Tom Perez’s well-known snafu, Democrats have been
contentiously debating whether their big tent can tolerate the presence of
pro-lifers. It was here that the level of extremism was made evident. The NARAL
spokeswoman said that if they feel confident their candidate can maintain the Democrat
seat in question, then they would primary the only three Democrats that voted for the 20 week abortion ban. She also noted that NARAL endorsed Hillary over
Bernie. This is rather remarkable, given that they did not endorse Hillary in
2008; but Bernie, who has a 100 percent voting rating from NARAL and a 0 rating
from the National Right to Life, made the unpardonable sin of endorsing a
pro-life Democrat from Nebraska. Apparently it is not just pro-life Democrats who will not be tolerated by NARAL, but also stalwart pro-choicers who merely wish to
co-exist with pro-life Democrats.
a strange connection with the people there. I could relate to their passion and
excitement about the issues being discussed. I myself have been in many similar
pro-life talks and have the same types of conversations they have with the
public week in and week out. It was interesting to think that these people have
devoted their lives to defending that which my moral intuition tells me is the
greatest moral wrong. In that moment, I realized perhaps they view me and my
friends as doing the same and being equally misguided.
evening did not end with moral ambiguity. As the training was wrapping up the
spokeswoman did a brief Q&A. Answering one question she tongue-in-cheek replied “We’re very live and let live here” and then belly-laughed saying, “Sorry,
I have a very dark sense of humor.” Dark indeed.