Methods of teaching the pro-life cause that were effective 10 and 20 years ago, while still valid, nevertheless have lost some of their effectiveness. New approaches may work better. Accordingly, let us briefly explore how we have taught in the past and how we must now teach in the 90s.
When abortion was legalized, few knew much about fetal development or abortion. Most objections to abortion arose from religious beliefs. Understanding this, the most effective methods of education then centered upon two major objectives, both of which were directly related to knowledge of fetal development.
Religious Belief Vs. Civil Rights
Opposition to abortion stemming from ones religious beliefs is a very important and effective motivating factor. It, however, applies directly only to those persons who share similar religious beliefs. Their counter argument is very effective. “If you oppose abortion because you think its against Gods will, I respect that and you should live by that. But I have a different religious belief (or non-belief). I do not think that it is against Gods will and therefore you should respect my approval of abortion. You should not impose your religious belief on me.”
They had a point. The answer was, “Medical and biologic science has proven that this is a living human from conception.” Our founding fathers spoke clearly stating “they are endowed…. with certain unalienable rights — of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The pro-life response was “religious belief is a powerful motivator for the individual. But this is not only a religious issue; it is primarily a human rights, a civil rights issue, and our nation makes laws to protect civil and human rights.”
The second major goal was to teach fetal development. A typical lecturer would spend half of the time giving a scientific presentation proving that human life began at fertilization. Typically this was by slides, 16 mm movie or video. If the audience was convinced, their reasoning was: “Abortion obviously kills a living human. Abortion is bad. Therefore we must stop abortion.”
Accordingly, teaching placed primary emphasis on fetal development. This worked beautifully. For two decades this method convinced millions that abortion was a human rights issue and that it must be stopped.
Changed the Question
Then pro-abortion leaders made a momentous change in their tactics. Unable to win, debating the issue as they saw it on pro-life terms, they cleverly changed the question from “Is abortion right or wrong?” to “Who decides, the woman or the government? The government should stay out of this very private matter. The real question is a womans right to choose.” This is an entirely different question. In the early 90s, and for several years, by paid ads, by all pro-abortion leaders using the same party line, and by the enthusiastic cooperation of the liberal media, they succeeded in changing the terms of the debate.
Many were led to believe that the sleeping “pro-choice giant” had awakened and would now sweep all before it. Judging this to be a turning of the tide, many nominally pro-life politicians became openly pro-abortion. With this there was a loss of pro-life political strength, and by 1992 the earlier pro-life majority in the US House of Representatives had been reversed.
But the field of battle did not remain static. A thorough going re-evaluation of the situation was needed. This was accomplished using, as they had done, market research. It was revealed that there had been a tidal change in public opinion.
Simply stated, the change was as follows. Only a few years ago, when a person was convinced that this was a baby, they then concluded that abortion must be stopped. Now, because of the “pro-choice” argumentation, even though they know its a baby, that person says that abortion should be allowed. This held potentially catastrophic effects. What was to be done?
Further research demonstrated that this conflicted middle has a negative opinion of pro-life people. To take it to its extreme, they believe that we are right-wing religious zealots, that we shoot abortionists and burn down clinics, that we are fetus-lovers and care little for the woman after she delivers. Coloring everything in terms of public opinion, we discovered that a significant percent of the public feels that pro-lifers are not compassionate to women. Because of this, many of them are turning a deaf ear and are no longer listening to us. Therein lay our challenge.
Further research and educational test marketing revealed that therein also lay the solution to countering the pro-choice argumentation. Pro-lifers, more than others in our culture, and certainly far beyond abortion proponents, are compassionate to women. What is needed, therefore, is to shout from the housetops the details of the pro-life movements obvious compassion for women. When done, the “conflicted” again listen to us. Herein lies the educational strategy needed for the coming years. This has led to this new book.
Love Them Both?
We now also have a one-liner that has proven its effectiveness in countering and reversing their “pro-choice” argumentation. “Why not love them both?” has proven to be the key in the lock that is needed to counter their changing of the question. Just as their one-liner has been “a woman has the right to choose”, the pro-life one-liner should be “why not love them both?”
Excerpted from Chapter 3 of Why Not Love Them Both?