Post, May 15, 2007
ready for a comeback
candidates took a beating in the 2006 elections, pro-life causes
month's Supreme Court ruling to uphold the ban on partial-birth
abortion was a welcome boost for pro-life forces, they are still
recovering from last year's defeats.
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
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.
Mr. Schaller said, if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
-- or any other Democratic contender -- wins the White House in
2008, "the most pro-choice Congress in American history"
will become "the most pro-choice government in American history."
pro-life movement lost its clout? Is the 34-year abortion war
finally ending, with the pro-choice 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
on both sides are taking stock of their positions, and both like
what they see.
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.
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.
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 partial-birth
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.
side, however, has a different take.
we've won the abortion war," said Janice Shaw Crouse, director
of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America.
"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.
is helping people recognize "that that is a baby" in
there, Mrs. Crouse said, "and when you make that point, you've
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.
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.
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 pro-choice groups' renewed focus on contraception as abortion
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.
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
several closely watched 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.
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.
an even more vigorous campaign was waged over an amendment to
allow state funding of embryonic stem-cell research that outlawed
"human cloning" but permitted a kind of cloning experiment
that takes 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.
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 late-term abortions. But voters overwhelmingly backed
Paul Morrison, a Republican-turned-Democrat who all but promised
not pursue Mr. Kline's strategy.
leaders quickly cited the voters' wisdom.
pro-choice majority will not allow any assault on Roe v. Wade
to go unanswered," Ms. Keenan told reporters after the election.
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
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.
faulted a lack of leadership from their Republican allies.
South Dakotans fought valiantly to defend their babies, we once
again witnessed an almost total lack of support from the national
leadership," the Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human
Life International, told the Associated Press.
however, the number of abortions being performed is decreasing.
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
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.
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.
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.
see young Americans as their long-awaited cavalry.
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.
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.
has been sponsoring a "second look" media campaign that
asks Americans -- especially young women -- to ask themselves,
"Have we gone too far?" on abortion.
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
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
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
bottom line is clear: Elections matter," Ms. Keenan of NARAL
Pro-Choice America said after the Carhart decision.
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
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,
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 Republican-led
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, a House
panel voted it down in late April.
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.
spokeswoman for the Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, insists
that her group will stand its ground.
no mistake," Ms. Farrow told the Associated Press. "We
are not going to let this group undo what we fought so hard to
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