Af­ter big losses in 2006, pro-lif­ers ready for come­back

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Ch­eryl Wet­zstein

If tra­di­tional-val­ues can­di­dates took a beat­ing in the 2006 elec­tions, pro-life causes were pul­ver­ized.

Al­though last month’s Supreme Court rul­ing to up­hold the ban on par- tial-birth abor­tion was a wel­come boost for pro-life forces, they are still re­cov­er­ing from last year’s de­feats.

For in­stance, South Dakota, Mis­souri and Kansas — all states as red as Dorothy’s ruby slip­pers — voted against pro-life mea­sures or of­fi­cials. Parental-no­ti­fi­ca­tion bills were thrown out in Ore­gon and Cal­i­for­nia, and in state af­ter state, Repub­li­can pro-life stal­warts lost their jobs.

By day’s end, Amer­ica had elected “the most pro-choice Congress in the his­tory of the repub­lic,” Univer­sity of Mary­land po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor Thomas

F. Schaller wrote in a col­umn in Fe­bru­ary in the Bal­ti­more Sun.

More­over, Mr. Schaller said, if Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton of New York —oranyotherDemo­crat­ic­con­tender — wins the White House in 2008, “the most pro-choice Congress in Amer­i­can his­tory” will be­come “the most pro-choice gov­ern­ment in Amer­i­can his­tory.”

Has Amer­ica’s pro-life move­ment lost its clout? Is the 34-year abor­tion war fi­nally end­ing, with the prochoice view in com­mand?

In a three-part se­ries, The Wash­ing­ton Times ex­am­ines the fu­ture of the tra­di­tional-val­ues move­ment, in­clud­ing the sta­tus of the abor­tion is­sue and the role of women.

Abor­tion war­riors on both sides are tak­ing stock of their po­si­tions, and both like what they see.

The pro-choice side is tout­ing its “pre­ven­tion-first”strat­egy.In­tro­duced in 2005 by Nancy Keenan, pres­i­dent of NARAL Pro-Choice Amer­ica, the strat­egy is in­tended to broaden the abor­tion is­sue, cre­ate new al­liances and ap­peal to vot­ers whose re­li­gious views pre­vi­ously had led them to sup­port Repub­li­can can­di­dates.

In Congress, Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid and Demo­cratic Reps. Louise M. Slaugh­ter of New York and Tim Ryan of Ohio have in­tro­duced bills to re­duce un­in­tended preg­nan­cies — and abor­tions — by fund­ing more fam­ily plan­ning and con­tra­cep­tive ser­vices.

Catholics For a Free Choice echoes the theme in its new “Pre­ven­tion Not Pro­hi­bi­tion” cam­paign. In a world of re­li­able birth con­trol, re­spon­si­ble par­ent­ing, child care and af­ford­able health care, “abor­tions aren’t il­le­gal. They’re pre­vented,” one of the group’s ads states.

And like their op­po­nents on the other side of the de­bate, pro-choice ad­vo­cates were gal­va­nized by the Supreme Court’s rul­ing on par­tial­birth abor­tions.

“We must elect a Congress that will re­peal this ban and a pres­i­dent who will sign the re­peal. Novem­ber 2008 can’t come soon enough,” said Kim Gandy, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Women.

The pro-life side, how­ever, has a dif­fer­ent take.

“I think we’ve won the abor­tion war,” said Jan­ice Shaw Crouse, di­rec­tor of the Bev­erly LaHaye In­sti­tute at Con­cerned Women for Amer­ica.

Tech­nol­ogy “is on our side,” she said, cit­ing four-di­men­sional ul­tra­sounds, pho­to­graphs of weeks-old un­born ba­bies and life-sav­ing ad­vances for very pre­ma­ture in­fants. Such ad­vances helped save the life of Amil­lia Tay­lor, who was less than 22 weeks old when she was born in Oc­to­ber. Amil­lia, who weighed 10 ounces at birth, was re­leased from a Florida hospi­tal in Fe­bru­ary, and doc­tors are op­ti­mistic about her fu­ture.

Tech­nol­ogy is help­ing peo­ple rec­og­nize “that that is a baby” in there, Mrs. Crouse said, “and when you make that point, you’ve won.” Be­yond abor­tion

Al­though decades of ed­u­ca­tion have made Amer­i­cans more aware and con­cerned about the sanc­tity of hu­man life, pro-life ad­vo­cates are fac­ing two new chal­lenges in the abor­tion bat­tle, said Daniel McConchie, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Amer­i­cans United For Life.

One chal­lenge is the ethics of stem-cell re­search and other tech­nol­ogy, he said. Pro-life ad­vo­cates and bioethi­cists are pit­ted against a well-funded biotech in­dus­try, sci­en­tists and univer­si­ties.

“Wall Street doesn’t roll over qui­etly,” Mr. McConchie said, re­fer­ring to the many spe­cial in­ter­ests that will fight to keep the biotech field “wide open” for re­search, even if it in­volves ex­per­i­ment­ing with hu­man life. Pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic opin­ion on cloning and other com­plex mat­ters are very im­por­tant, but un­for­tu­nately, there’s a steep learn­ing curve on th­ese is­sues and a lot of mis­in­for­ma­tion has gone out al­ready, he said.

A sec­ond chal­lenge is the prochoice groups’ re­newed fo­cus on con­tra­cep­tion as abor­tion pre­ven­tion.

Many pro-life groups don’t take a stand on con­tra­cep­tion — “We’re happy for any way to avoid abor­tion,” Mr. McConchie said — and most Amer­i­cans are likely to sup­port a more-birth-con­trol approach be­cause so many of them use it them­selves.

But the pro-choice side also will un­doubt­edly use the strat­egy “to try to split the pro-life move­ment,” he said. Many pro-life ad­vo­cates — es­pe­cially Ro­man Catholics — see birth con­trol as a griev­ous vi­o­la­tion of God’s nat­u­ral law.

In short, Mr. McConchie and oth­ers said in in­ter­views with The Wash­ing­ton Times, while the over­all tra­di­tional-val­ues move­ment re­groups in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the 2008 elec­tions, pro-life groups are gear­ing up for fights in new and old ter­ri­to­ries. How the pub­lic — es­pe­cially the younger gen­er­a­tions — will re­act to emerg­ing is­sues in the abor­tion wars is any­body’s guess. In the bal­lot box

Therew­ere­sev­er­al­close­ly­watched abor­tion con­tests in 2006.

In South Dakota, law­mak­ers and Repub­li­can Gov. Michael Rounds en­acted a vir­tual ban on abor­tions in di­rect chal­lenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade rul­ing, which le­gal­ized abor­tion.

Pro-life groups cheered the new law, but na­tional pro-choice forces swiftly ral­lied to place it on the bal­lot, as al­lowed by state law. Vot­ers were bom­barded with po­lit­i­cal ads, ac­cu­sa­tions about fund­ing and mis­in­for­ma­tion, and images of coat hang­ers spray-painted on pro-life yard signs. When they fi­nally had the chance to speak, vot­ers crushed the new law, 56 per­cent to 44 per­cent.

In­Mis­souri,an­even­more­vig­or­ous cam­paign­waswage­dover­ana­mend­ment to al­low state fund­ing of em­bry­onic stem-cell re­search that out­lawed“hu­man­cloning”but­per­mit­ted akind­of­cloning­ex­per­i­ment­that­takes place only in lab­o­ra­to­ries. The mea­sure passed by a nar­row mar­gin. In ad­di­tion, Claire McCaskill, a Demo­crat, was suc­cess­ful in her bid to un­seat Sen. Jim Tal­ent, a tra­di­tional-val­ues leader and op­po­nent of the stem-cell mea­sure.

In Kansas, vot­ers had the chance to re-elect state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Phill Kline, a cru­sad­ing pro-lifer who had filed a case against abor­tion providers whom he sus­pected had cov­ered up child rapes and per­formed il­le­gal lateterm abor­tions. But vot­ers over­whelm­ingly backed Paul Mor­ri­son, a Repub­li­can-turned-Democratwhoall but promised not pur­sue Mr. Kline’s strat­egy.

Pro-choice lead­ers quickly cited the vot­ers’ wis­dom.

The “Amer­i­can pro-choice ma­jor­ity will not al­low any as­sault on Roe v. Wadeto­gounan­swered,”Ms.Keenan told re­porters af­ter the elec­tion.

Emily’s List, a pow­er­ful po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee ded­i­cated to elect­ing pro-choice Demo­cratic women, said that with 12 win­ners in the Se­nate and 50 in the House, it was reap­ing the ben­e­fits of 20 years of fundrais­ing and out­reach.

“We won at ev­ery level and will see a liv­ing sym­bol of our suc­cess when Nancy Pelosi picks up the speaker’s gavel,” Emily’s List Pres­i­dent Ellen R. Mal­colm said in De­cem­ber. Mrs. Pelosi, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, be­came the first fe­male speaker of the House.

Pro-life­forces­fault­edalack­oflead­er­ship from their Repub­li­can al­lies.

“While South Dakotans fought valiantly to de­fend their ba­bies, we once again wit­nessed an al­most to­tal lack of sup­port from the na­tional lead­er­ship,”theRev.ThomasJ.Euteneuer, pres­i­dent of Hu­man Life In­ter­na­tional, told the As­so­ci­ated Press. Fall­ing num­bers

In prac­tice, how­ever, the num­ber of abor­tions be­ing per­formed is de­creas­ing.

The na­tional rate of in­duced abor­tion per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 peaked in 1981 and has since fallen. The es­ti­mated 1.28 mil­lion abor­tions per­formed in 2003 was down 20 per­cent since 1990, ac­cord­ing to the Guttmacher In­sti­tute, a re­pro­duc­tive re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion named for a for­mer pres­i­dent of Planned Par­ent­hood Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ica.

The Guttmacher In­sti­tute also re­ports that the num­ber of abor­tion providers has fallen 11 per­cent, from 2,042 in 1996 to 1,819 in 2000. This in­cludes 833 clin­ics, which per­form 93 per­cent of abor­tions; 603 hos­pi­tals; and 383 physi­cian’s of­fices.

Dozens of re­cent polls show that roughly one-fifth of Amer­i­can adults take ex­treme po­si­tions — 20 per­cent say they sup­port abor­tion un­der “any” cir­cum­stance and 20 per­cent sup­port it un­der “no” cir­cum­stance. The re­main­ing 50-plus per­cent sup­ports abor­tion un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

How­ever, there are two ar­eas in which sur­vey data heart­ens pro-life ad­vo­cates: Most Amer­i­cans think abor­tion is “morally wrong,” and younger Amer­i­cans of­ten seem to side with pro-life po­si­tions.

Pro-life sup­port­ers see young Amer­i­cans as their long-awaited cavalry.

“Th­ese are the gen­er­a­tions be­hind us who will then take the torch on th­ese is­sues and carry it,” said Joseph Cella, pres­i­dent of Fi­delis, a Catholic tra­di­tional val­ues group in Chelsea, Mich.

“I think this is a gen­er­a­tion that can’t ig­nore the af­ter­math of abor­tion in a way that their par­ents and even their grand­par­ents could,” said Deirdre McQuade, spokes­woman for the Pro-Life Sec­re­tariat at the United States Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bishops.

The con­fer­ence has been spon­sor­ing a “sec­ond look” me­dia cam­paign that asks Amer­i­cans — es­pe­cially young women — to ask them­selves, “Have we gone too far?” on abor­tion.

But pro-choice groups are not idle in youth re­cruit­ment. Many have out­reach groups, such as the Na­tional Coun­cil of Women’s Or­ga­ni­za­tions’ Younger Women’s Task Force, which re­cently spon­sored a women’s equal­ity sum­mit in Wash­ing­ton.

And the Democrats’ broad approach to is­sues will be more at­trac­tive to youth than the nar­row spec­trum of is­sues of­fered by tra­di­tional-val­ues groups, said Eric Sapp of Com­mon Good Strate­gies, a Demo­cratic con­sult­ing group.

“If there’s one can­di­date that’s al­ways speak­ing about abor­tion and gays, and you’ve got other can­di­dates talk­ing about abor­tion re­duc­tion and im­prov­ing the fam­ily in a lot of ways, im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, get­ting in­volved in one cam­paign to do in­ter­na­tional debt re­lief, those [young, faith­ful] peo­ple are go­ing to flock, as they did in the last elec­tion, to the Democrats,” Mr. Sapp pre­dicted. Back in court

The Supreme Court’s rul­ing in April in Gon­za­les v. Planned Par­ent­hood and Gon­za­les v. Carhart, the par­tial-birth-abor­tion cases, likely will af­fect a num­ber of law­suits chal­leng­ing state bans, such as those in Mis­souri, Vir­ginia and Utah.

It also will ratchet up the bat­tle over ju­di­cial ap­point­ments.

The high court’s 5-4 de­ci­sion, in which Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr. and Jus­tice Samuel A. Al­ito Jr. voted in the ma­jor­ity, “clearly shows the im­por­tance of hav­ing strong ju­di­cial con­ser­va­tives on the bench,” said An­drea Shel­don Lafferty, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Tra­di­tional Val­ues Coali­tion. Both jus­tices are new to the bench.

“The bot­tom line is clear: Elec­tions mat­ter,” Ms. Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice Amer­ica said af­ter the Carhart de­ci­sion.

Mean­while, pro-choice forces are urg­ing pas­sage of the “Free­dom of Choice Act,” which would en­shrine the Roe v. Wade de­ci­sion in fed­eral law. They also want to see the in­tro­duc­tion of a fed­eral pri­vacy pro­tec­tion law to stave off court-or­dered “fish­ing ex­pe­di­tions” in abor­tion records, as well as the re­peal of the 1976 “Hyde amend­ment,” which for­bids fed­eral fund­ing for abor­tion.

On the other side, pro-life ad­vo­cates are con­tin­u­ing to “fence in” abor­tion, as Amer­i­cans United for Life pres­i­dent Peter A. Sa­muel­son writes in the group’s state-by-state leg­isla­tive hand­book, “De­fend­ing Life 2007.”

Pro-life forces also are back­ing bills in North Dakota, Texas and Vir­ginia that would ban nearly all abor­tions in those states in the event Roe v. Wade is over­turned. A sim­i­lar “trig­ger” bill was signed into law in March in Mis­sis­sippi by Gov. Ha­ley Bar­bour, a Repub­li­can.

In South Carolina, the House re­cently passed a bill to re­quire a wo­man seek­ing an abor­tion to first look at the ul­tra­sound im­age of her un­born baby. How­ever, a state Se­nate panel re­moved that lan­guage on April 12, set­ting up a pos­si­ble show­down be­tween the two Repub­li­can­led cham­bers.

In Mis­souri, pro-life lead­ers are re­vis­it­ing the em­bry­onic stem-cell re­search is­sue. Law­mak­ers in­tro­duced a bill to put an amend­ment be­fore vot­ers in 2008 that would give the leg­is­la­ture the power to con­trol re­search fund­ing and ban any kind of cloning. How­ever,aHousep­a­n­elvote­d­it­down in late April.

Jaci Win­ship, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mis­souri­ans Against Hu­man Cloning, has said her group will lead a pe­ti­tion drive to put the amend­ment on the 2008 bal­lot if it didn’t pass in the leg­is­la­ture.

Con­nie Far­row, spokes­woman for the Mis­souri Coali­tion for Life­sav­ing Cures, in­sists that her group will stand its ground.

“Make no mis­take,” Ms. Far­row told the As­so­ci­ated Press. “We are not go­ing to let this group undo what we fought so hard to ac­com­plish.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.