I just came across an article that caught my attention: “Hidden Persuaders,” dated Nov. 7. It was by Fred Barnes, of The Weekly Standard. For almost 40 years, people in the pro-life movement in the United States have battled to overturn Roe v. Wade. The attempts have been unsuccessful, and that has disappointed and discouraged many in the movement. But Barnes in his article carefully recounts the successes of the movement and the vigor of contemporary pro-life adherents. It is an encouraging article to read.
The pro-life movement today is bigger, younger, more strategic and better organized than ever, states Barnes. And it has captured the high moral ground. Sonograms are clear and show a high resolution of the unborn child. Two of the nation’s top pro-choice leaders, Kate Michelman and Frances Kissling, wrote in the Los Angeles Times not long ago that they were having a “hard time dealing with the increased visibility of the fetus.” And well they might. As Barnes declares, through the new technologies “fetuses have become babies.”
The new awareness of the humanity of the unborn child has resulted in increased restrictions on abortion, which in turn means fewer abortions. Perhaps Roe v. Wade may not be overturned yet, but the total numbers of abortions are being significantly reduced. In the current year alone, Barnes writes, 24 states enacted 52 restrictions on abortion, including mandatory ultrasounds, banning abortion after the baby can feel pain (at about 20 weeks), opting out of ObamaCare, banning abortions by webcam (i.e. by videoconferencing with the mother) and eliminating funds for Planned Parenthood (PP). The State of Texas even managed to cut $64 million from PP funding.
The article details three significant pro-life trends. The first is the increased opposition to abortion among younger people. In the 1970s the under-30 crowd was the most pro-choice in the country. Now they are the least pro-choice. Barnes calls attention to pro-life rallies, especially the March on Washington, D.C. each January 22nd (the 2012 March for Life is set for January 23rd). Teenagers and people in their 20’s seem to predominate. And there are young mothers with their babies. Pro-abortion activist Nancy Keenan, president of “NARAL Pro-Choice America,” worriedly commented last year about people at the March: “There are so many of them, and they are so young.”
The second trend today is the dramatic growth of refuges for unmarried, pregnant women. They go by names like “Crisis Pregnancy Center,” “Pregnancy Health Center,” “Pregnancy Resource Center,” and so on. These pro-women safe havens advise against abortion and help to take care of the mother and child before and after birth. It is a fact that 80 to 90 percent of women who have sonograms at pregnancy centers choose to have their baby. Today there are almost three times as many such centers as there are abortion clinics! And because of this success, the pro-choice crowd is trying to stop them. They are seeking legislation that would compel the centers to post large signs disclosing that they do not offer abortions or make referrals to abortion clinics, hoping this would stop pregnant women from coming to the centers.
The third trend, according to Barnes, is the rejuvenation of old pro-life groups and the springing up of new ones. “Students for Life” now has 637 chapters. In 2004, David Bereit organized a protest against a proposal to build a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Bryant, Texas. This blossomed into the 40 Days for Life initiative. The number of abortions in his county in Texas decreased that year by 28 percent. 40 Days for Life now has 400,000 people involved in it, in 400 cities across the country. Bereit declared: “I see enthusiasm and hope (that) I have not seen in years.”
Representative Cliff Steams of Florida has begun a congressional probe — for the first time ever — of Planned Parenthood, because of allegations of misuse of federal funds, aiding people in prostitution and sexual trafficking and compliance with restrictions concerning funding of abortion. The work of pro-life activist Lila Rose and her group Live Action is probably largely responsible for this action. Fred Barnes concludes his article with: “Real gains have been achieved by the pro-life movement and many, many lives have been saved — in 2011 alone. Bigger gains are bound to come.” This is cause to celebrate.
LifeNews Note: Father John A. Leies, SM, STD, is a Contributing Writer of HLI America. He is president emeritus of St. Mary’s University and formerly served as head of the Theology Department there. His recent writings may be found at HLI America’s Truth and Charity Forum.