On the anniversary of Roe, Frances Kissling, founder of Catholics [sic] for Free Choice, and Kate Michelman of NARAL published a letter in the Los Angeles Times: Abortion's battle of messages.
It's refreshing that Kissling and Michelman at least recognize their own movement's shortcomings. The problem is that they view them as strategic shortcomings, as failures to properly frame their support of abortion. They never look at the fact that maybe the reason they're losing ground is that there are inherent flaws in the stand they take.
I'd like to address just a couple of points where Kissling's and Michelman's analysis falls short:
In recent years, the antiabortion movement successfully put the nitty-gritty details of abortion procedures on public display, increasing the belief that abortion is serious business and that some societal involvement is appropriate.
Note that to Kissling and Michelman, it's not a matter of people recognizing that abortion is "serious business". It's the development of "the belief" that it is.
Those who are pro-choice have not convinced America that we support a public discussion of the moral dimensions of abortion.
That's because the moment you move to the "moral dimensions of abortion", the prochoice argument crashes and burns. Any child on the playgrounds can grasp "Pick on somebody your own size." And with ultrasounds now a routine part of prenatal care, it gets harder and harder for abortion advocates to cling to their claim that abortion doesn't involve attacking and killing a very small, defenseless somebody. The idea that mothers should protect their children, not kill them, is also a no-brainer. Staying away from abortion's moral aspects and sticking to slogans is a wise stategic move.
Likewise, we haven't convinced people that we are the ones actually doing things to make it possible for women to avoid needing abortions.
The "need" for abortion exists in women's heads, not their wombs. Going around promoting abortion as a cure all for anything that ails you isn't going to accomplish squat to reduce reliance on abortion.
Let's face it: Disapproval of women's sexuality is a historical constant.
Where the heck did that come from? How do you look at people pleading for a baby's life, and get, "They just are upset that his mother had sex in the first place"? This makes as much sense as looking at a program to stop domestic violence and saying, "These people just disapprove of marriage!"
So our claim that women can be trusted still falls on deaf ears.
The reason your "Trust Women" slogan "falls on deaf ears" is that you're presenting women as untrustworthy. You hold up an inherently abhorrent behavior -- a mother killing her own child -- as some sort of proof that women can be trusted. Why not hold up Ted Bundy and Ed Kemper as proof that we should "trust men"?
I hope Michelman and Kissling continue to slog it out with other abortion advocates. They're the best friends women and children can have within the prochoice movement: people saying, "Let's really look at what abortion is, does, and means." You can't do that for long and still have a movement embracing the practice.
HT: Threshing Grain
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