By Dave Andrusko
Gauging Our Prospects
"Abortion opponents have long considered the Senate to be a daunting roadblock for new abortion restrictions and conservative judicial nominees, halting many of the initiatives of a sympathetic House and a president committed to 'a culture of life.' But now, both sides in the abortion struggle agree, the Senate is changing."
From "Changing Senate Looks Much Better to Abortion Foes,"
New York Times, December 2
If space were unlimited, I could offer many more examples of this positive analysis and then juxtapose them against even more illustrations of those who have come to the opposite conclusion. Who is right?
The first thing to be said is, be sure to order extra copies of NRL News's special January 22 Commemorative Issue. A preliminary list of the wide-ranging stories is included in the order form found on page 7. Please note that you can dial up (202) 626-8828 to place orders over the phone.
To gauge our prospects, we need to know the strength of our Movement (growing in depth and breadth), the cultural climate (warming to the truth that abortion hurts both unborn babies and their mothers), and the caliber of leadership (top gauge in both the House and Senate, bolstered by the addition of new pro-life members and the re-election of pro-life President Bush).
In other words, all three angles of this particular triangle are promising. Let's briefly look at each.
Winning is rarely all or nothing. Positive change typically takes the form of incremental increases over time. The January issue makes it clear that our Movement is experiencing a steady growth in active support, whether we are talking about young people, African-Americans, or Hispanics.
The sum of the parts, however, often proves greater than the whole because of synergy. This is a very good time to be a member of the greatest movement for social justice of our time.
What's more, the monopoly which pro-abortion forces once held on the terms of the debate (aided and abetted by the "mainstream media") is now history. Their ascendency has been broken into shards by everything from the Internet and talk radio, to 4-Dimensional, real-time color ultrasounds, to the emergence of aborted women who vocally insist they will be "Silent No More." No longer are NARAL and NOW and Planned Parenthood able to pontificate on the joys of tearing unborn babies apart without contrary voices being heard.
Consider: What has been "nearly a taboo in discussions about abortion," according to Jean Bethke Elshtain, is now rapidly moving into the public's consciousness - - abortion's "negative effects on women themselves." Elshtain, writing in the new book, The Cost of Abortion, argues, "legal abortion has had deleterious effects on women - - socially, medically, psychologically, and culturally."
Why is a widespread acknowledgement of this so vitally important? Because the foundation of abortion on demand, the undergirding that makes it so difficult to dislodge, is the tacit approval of people who "consider abortion morally abhorrent," Elshstain writes, "but believe it is somehow good for women."
Once that is removed, progress on a scale we have never seen is possible.
Just one piece of evidence among many that could be offered. Wirthlin Worldwide recently asked 1,001 people this question: "Just generally, do you believe that abortion is almost always a good thing for a woman or almost always a bad thing for a woman?"
Only 23% said "almost always a good thing for a woman," compared to a whopping 69% who responded "almost always a bad thing for a woman." This is important news.
The New York Times article cited above written by veteran reporter Robin Toner, makes a number of important points. For instance, "As a result of November's election, the next Senate will have a bigger, more conservative Republican majority and several new opponents of abortion - - including some of the most intense abortion foes in politics, like Tom Coburn, a doctor and newly elected senator from Oklahoma, who campaigned as 'a committed defender of the sanctity of life in all of its stages.'"
Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Toner, "The Senate is much worse than it was before the election for reproductive health and rights. It was already pretty bad, and it's definitely even worse now." The House, already strong going into the November elections, is stronger still.
Moreover, President Bush made it abundantly clear, beginning with a press conference two days after the election, that he has no intention of timidly approaching the first two years of his second term, the period traditionally in which a re-elected President is best able to work his will on the Congress.
He said unequivocally, "The president must have the will to take on the issue, not only in the campaign but now that I'm elected....I earned capital in the campaign, political capital. And now I intend to spend it. It is my style. That's what happened after the 2000 election, I earned some capital. I've earned capital in this election."
The President is one of us, revealed not only in what he has done for the babies, but also what pro-lifers did for him November 2. As we reported last month, 8% of the voters said that abortion was the most important issue in deciding for whom to vote. Three-quarters of this segment (6%) voted for George W. Bush while only one-quarter (2%) voted for John Kerry.
This was a net increment of 4% for President Bush among voters who based their vote on the single issue of abortion. In a close election, this 4% advantage made the difference between winning and losing.
There is much more related to this look ahead, which you can find in the other editorial that begins on page two. What we can hope for was encapsulated in the final paragraph of Toner's story.
"Still, abortion-rights veterans are uneasy as they head into the new Congress. 'I have a sense of deep foreboding,' said Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, 'unless the choice movement is able to once again come alive, and clearly define what a woman's right to choose means.'"