New NARAL Abortion PR Campaign Focuses on "Responsibility

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

New NARAL Abortion PR Campaign Focuses on "Responsibility Email this article
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by Maria Vitale Gallagher Staff Writer
June 12, 2005

Washington, DC ( — The pro-abortion lobbying group known as NARAL is being criticized for its latest public relations campaign. The organization’s leaders claim they will be shaking up the debate over abortion by talking about responsibility.

But William Saletan, a writer for the Internet magazine Slate, suggests the new strategy may backfire.

“I’ve hounded Democrats for years to talk about responsibility,” Saletan writes. “But great ideas can be dangerous. The last time NARAL invented a new message, it came back to bite them."

“In 1989, when their backs were against the wall, they repackaged abortion rights as an issue of getting the government out of the family. That message won over millions of pro-family, anti-government people. But the pro-family, anti-government people thought pro-family meant supporting parental notification laws and anti-government meant opposing government funding of abortions. Pro-choicers got beaten with their own words,” Saletan writes.

Saletan indicates NARAL faces an uphill struggle in trying to sell its message.

He cites poll results showing only 22 percent of Americans believe abortion should be “generally available.” Twenty-six percent say “regulation of abortion is necessary, although it should remain legal in many circumstances.” As a result, the pro-abortion total is just 48 percent.

Meanwhile, 50 percent of respondents believe abortion should be legal only in the “most extreme cases” or illegal altogether.

In response, NARAL is trying to soften its message, focusing on pregnancy prevention and “common ground.” But, Saletan suggests, responsibility means different things to different people. As a result, NARAL’s message could get muddled.

At a news conference announcing the new public relations venture, NARAL’s President, Nancy Keenan, denounced pharmacists who decline to fill birth control prescriptions, saying that women who seek contraceptives “are acting responsibility.”

But, as Saletan points out, the statement shows that “it’s better to avert a pregnancy or stop it early than to kill a developing fetus.”

Saletan also notes that NARAL appears to be taking a new course — by linking its success to the abortion rate.

Saletan writes, “(NARAL’s) latest ad proposes a ‘campaign to reduce the number of abortions.’ Its platform, as drafted in the poll, says, ‘The goal is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and therefore reduce the need for abortions.’ That’s the first time I’ve seen NARAL call abortion reduction the goal.”

Pro-life groups, however, argue there is never a "need" for an abortion and they say NARAL has never been in favor of reducing the number of abortions.