Election Results Don’t Mean Pro-Life Movement to Stop, Limit Abortions is Dead
by Steven Ertelt
November 20, 2008
Chicago, IL (LifeNews.com) — One of the most respected attorneys involved in the battle to pass pro-life legislation at the state level says the presidential election results are a setback for the pro-life movement. But Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for Americans United for Life, says those who say the pro-life movement is dead are exaggerating.
Forsythe talked with the Zenit news service about the results and said Americans aren’t less pro-life because Barack Obama was elected.
Instead, he believes the election was about the economy and, in no way, a repudiation of pro-life principles.
"It is very difficult to keep pro-life and other issues of justice at the center of public life in the midst of war and economic crisis," he told Zenit.
"William Wilberforce’s campaign against the slave trade in Great Britain during the 1790s — which was derailed by the French Revolution, war with France, economic crises and terrible harvests — is a good example. But Wilberforce (and his allies) persevered and things turned around over considerable time," Forsythe explained.
"I haven’t seen any data which would indicate that Americans voted ‘against pro-life’ nationally," he said.
The AUL attorney also talked with Zenit about the progress that has been made and said the pro-life movement can point to tangible successes.
"Roe is threatened in 2008 because of the make-up of the Supreme Court and because of momentum created over the past 35 years. There has been a 25% drop in abortions since 1992. Abortion is understood to be the taking of human life. Legislative fences have been erected that significantly reduce abortions," he said.
"The public is skeptical about most abortions. Legal, social, and economic pressure on abortion providers has grown. A much stronger national network of pregnancy care centers exists in 2008 than existed in 1973. A growing body of medical studies shows the medical risks of abortion for women," he added.
Forsythe talked about the ballot initiatives in places like Washington, South Dakota, Colorado and elsewhere where pro-life advocates came in on the losing side.
He said the defeats had more to do with the amount of money involved in the campaigns rather than last minute advertising.
In Washington and California, for example, abortion and assisted suicide proponents spent several times more than their pro-life counterparts and were able to sway the vote from initial polling that revealed close races.
On bioethics issues, Forsythe told Zenit that it will take time to educate the public against the onslaught of media attention for embryonic stem cell research.
"In the drive to prevent embryonic research, it will be essential to effectively educate on the success of adult stem-cell research — and research with induced pluripotent cells (IPCs) — and the relative failure of embryonic research. That will take time," he said.
Looking ahead to the future, Forsythe told the news service that the biggest battle for the pro-life movement is the fight to stop the so-called Freedom of Choice Act.
He said the Congressional bill, which Obama strongly supports, "would declare abortion to be a ‘fundamental right’ at every stage of pregnancy and would, thereby, specifically invalidate any [pro-life law approved by] any federal, state, or local government…"
"The language of FOCA is clear and absolute. FOCA would compel state and federal public funding of abortion on demand and invalidate every state, federal and local regulation on abortion and abortion practice enacted over the past 35 years, including all limits on partial birth abortion, all parental involvement laws, and all laws protecting rights of conscience relating to abortion," he said.
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