Pro-Life Movement’s Pro-Woman Approach Got Boost From Abortion Ruling

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Movement’s Pro-Woman Approach Got Boost From Abortion Ruling Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — Key leaders in the pro-life movement see the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding the partial-birth abortion ban as the latest step in proving that pro-life doesn’t mean anti-woman. Some see the decision as validating the assertions pro-life advocates have made in the last several years that abortion hurts women.

For the pro-life community, opposing partial-birth abortions makes common sense.

A plain medical description sounds something akin to a horror film — birthing a baby most of the way from her mother’s womb, puncturing her skull, and suctioning out the contents of her skull.

The abortion procedure itself is revolting to all but the most hard-core pro-abortion advocates but it also makes no sense from the standpoint of women’s health.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, a Las Cruces, New Mexico OBGYN who formerly did abortions in New York, says a partial-birth abortion is a three day long process and would never be a medical procedure a doctor would need to use to protect a woman’s health.

"The way you end a pregnancy to save a woman’s life is to deliver the (baby)," Levatino said. "If you wait three days to do a partial birth abortion, she’s going to end up in the morgue."

That’s a point that pro-life advocates across the board say not only refutes the arguments of abortion advocates that partial-birth abortions ought to remain legal but shows that they are more in tune with the concerns of women than groups like Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

“We think of ourselves as very pro-woman,” said Wanda Franz, president of the National Right to Life Committee, told the Associated Press. “We believe that when you help the woman, you help the baby.”

While NRLC highlights the pro-woman arguments associated with the pro-life position, other groups like Feminists for Life take the point even further. The group has championed the argument since its founding in the early 1970s and its "Women Deserve Better" signs are now a staple of any pro-life event.

The group has made a point of not only showing abortion hurts women by causing a variety of medical and mental health problems but works to reduce the so-called socioeconomic need most women say they have for an abortion by helping them find other options.

On college campuses, pro-life groups sing the praises of Feminists for Life for their ability to help them organize pregnancy resource forums or giving them a means of communicating with a culture that normally knee-jerks away from the standard "pro-baby" arguments the pro-life movement has relied on since Roe.

The pro-woman, pro-life perspective has made its way throughout the pro-life movement and even state legislators are embracing the concept that the pro-life position embraces both mother and child.

When the state of South Dakota passed an abortion ban that would have been a direct attack on the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion ruling, it released a several-dozen page report on the state of abortion.

The report could have been filled with polemic remarks condemning abortions, the women who have them or the practitioners who do them. Instead, page after page of the report highlighted the various ways abortion has hurt women and cited the commentary of thousands of women who know firsthand how abortion destroyed their lives.

Allan Parker, the head of the Justice Foundation, a Texas-based pro-life law firm that helped organize the testimonies for the South Dakota legislature, talked with the Associated Press about the direction the pro-life movement is headed based on the pro-woman and post-abortion perspective.

He compared the newer direction to the approach taken by the anti-smoking community.

“We’re kind of in the early stages of tobacco litigation,” Parker said.

Parker also pointed out how Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in the partial-birth abortion case, cited a Justice Foundation brief in his decision.

"It seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained,” Kennedy wrote. As a result, “The state has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed.”

He pointed out that women who have abortions suffer “regret,” “severe depression,” “loss of esteem” and other ills. "Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow."

“Thirty-three years of real life experiences,” the foundation had said in the amicus brief, “attests that abortion hurts women and endangers their physical, emotional and psychological health.”

But while the pro-woman tone of the pro-life movement resonates with the millions of women who passionately regret their abortions and would do anything to talk their sisters out of having one, it falls on deaf ears in the pro-abortion ranks.

“It’s motivated by politics, not by science, not by medical care, and not for the purposes of compassion," NARAL president Nancy Keenan told AP about the pro-woman direction.

However, the words of the women themselves appear to prove otherwise.

Georgette Forney, the director of Anglicans for Life and head of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign that helps post-abrotion women speak out, could have easily been an abortion advocate.

She fits the profile of many of the leading pro-abortion spokeswomen — articulate, well-educated, socially astute, an Episcopalian, and hailing from an East Coast state.

But her abortion eventually led her to the pro-life movement and, once there, Forney became one of the leaders in changing the tone to promote the concerns of women.

"This is not … about abortion politics as usual, it’s about reaching out to people who are struggling after an abortion and don’t know help is available," Forney says.

She then sums up the argument and makes the cases that could eventually topple abortion: "It’s also about helping the public understand that reproductive rights aren’t really right for women."