Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

How to Talk to Democrats About Abortion: Five Strategies for Making the Pro-Life Case
IC ^ | October 29, 2009 | Eric Pavlat

Posted on 10/30/2009 10:23:13 AM PDT by NYer

 
In the 1970s, when about 40 percent of Democratic congressmen were pro-life, the party had a seemingly insurmountable hold on the House of Representatives. Now, less than 15 percent are pro-life, and they're in an ever-shrinking House minority. Meanwhile, the big Democratic success stories from 2004 were the new representatives in Iowa, Missouri, and Michigan, as well as new Democratic governors in West Virginia and Louisiana. All of these victories were won by pro-life Democrats.
 
Some in the Democratic Party read the signs correctly; otherwise, they never could have elected a relative social moderate like Harry Reid (D-Nevada) as Senate minority leader. But many Democrats are not just pragmatic, wanting victory at any cost. Most Democrats I've spoken with seem to feel that maintaining legal abortion is actually the most compassionate course for a government to take, given the number of women facing crisis pregnancies. For them, criminalizing abortion is both sexist and heartless.
 
Many pro-lifers feel that arguing with such people is hopeless, especially when dealing with a liberal Democratic audience that has already made up its mind about abortion. And yet we're still called to evangelize. How, then, can we engage pro-choice Democrats in fruitful conversation? (Since Democrats prefer the term "pro-choice," I will use it here.)
 
First -- and most obvious -- is prayer. When Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies, we're to pray for mercy, forgiveness, and conversion. The more authentically we pray, the more love and compassion we feel for those with whom we fight in this culture war.
 
Beyond prayer, the key to any discussion is to locate the common ground you share with your conversation partner and work from there. This common ground need not involve abortion, at least initially. Finding one area where you agree with your interlocutor -- such as the war in Iraq, tax cuts, or the death penalty -- creates an openness to hearing your argument. Additionally, it precludes the possibility of his tuning you out solely on the basis of your membership in a certain political party.
 
Finally, it's important to lower your initial expectations. Due to the high emotions involved with the abortion debate, you may convince a person on an interior level and find that he nevertheless rejects your position outwardly. Your pressing for a concession early on may actually drive him away, making it that much harder to convince him down the road.
 
A far better tack is to make some concession on your side first -- such as rejecting anti-abortion violence, or promoting increased funding for women's health -- making the other person more likely to consider you "reasonable." Your having made a concession also helps him lower his own guard and gives him permission to admit to a change in his own attitude.
 
 
Strategy No. 1: Oppose Violence Against Women
 
Abortion was first aggregated to the Democratic Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s when feminists, following up on the civil rights movement, advocated it as part of women's liberation. Unfortunately, the results have been anything but good for women.
 
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the United States is murder. The most frequent murderer of a pregnant woman is the father of her child. Connected to this startling statistic, we see that in post-abortive interviews, between 30 percent and 60 percent of abortions are described by the abortive mother as "coerced," most often by parents or, again, the child's father.
 
By legalizing abortion, our country has created an instant escape hatch for irresponsible males who aren't willing to accept the consequences of their actions and who pressure women into unwanted abortions. We have formed an expectation among males that if a "mistake" comes along, the woman has an obligation to "fix it." And they're often all too willing to enforce this decision with violence: Five years ago, the Washington Post reported that an estimated 295 pregnant women were murdered per year, with another 4 to 8 percent of pregnant women suffering physical violence at the hands of their husbands, boyfriends, or partners. While exact numbers are hard to obtain, it's probable that several thousand non-surgical abortions per year are performed by male partners who simply beat the abdomens of women until miscarriage occurs. This not only kills the child, it leaves the bereaved mother without the ability to prosecute the murderer (in most states, depending on the gestational age of the child) for any crime beyond simple assault and battery. The connection between abortion and domestic violence is unmistakable.
 
Threats and intimidation from male partners, as well as from parents, often play a role in a woman's choice to abort. In fact, according to a statistic in David C. Reardon's Aborted Women: Silent No More (Acorn Books, 2002), 80 percent of post-abortive women say that if they had received support instead of intimidation from their loved ones, they would have preferred to keep the baby. As it was, they felt that they had no choice but to abort.
 
Clearly, these statistics should be abhorrent to anyone on any side of the debate. Simply sharing the facts above often produces a startling effect. But this cannot be used merely as a bludgeon; it needs to be part of an overall pattern of authentic concern for the mother facing a surprise pregnancy. It might also be helpful to become familiar with the work of the crisis pregnancy centers in your area, especially those that provide shelter for threatened mothers.
 
Pro-life feminists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton feared that women would be exploited and abused if abortion were to become legalized, and their predictions were proven correct. No solutions to the problem of intimidation and violence against pregnant women can be achieved without the dual solutions of removing the availability of abortion and taking additional steps to protect threatened women.
 
 
Strategy No. 2: Support Women Facing Crisis Pregnancies
 
Sympathy for the woman facing a crisis pregnancy needs to come in two ways. First, we must be compassionate and express solidarity with those who feel forced into an abortion. Post-abortive women, as well as their family and friends, are often extremely defensive. What they need is sympathy for their crisis, not judgment. Part of this involves avoiding inflammatory language. While it's absolutely true that abortion is no less than the killing of a baby, the post-abortive woman hears only judgment in that line of argument. Her mind will immediately close, and your chance to make a convincing case is gone.
 
Secondly, it's important to acknowledge that simply overturning abortion laws will not end the abortion crisis. Even if Roe v. Wade were reversed, abortion would still be legal in most of the United States (as such a decision would merely leave the question up to individual states). And even if abortion were made illegal on the state level, many abortions would continue on the black market.
 
We need a system in which no woman feels there's a need for abortion. In other words, we need to admit that the U.S. government isn't yet doing what it should to establish justice and promote the general welfare when it comes to pregnant women. While volunteer groups have bravely filled an important void in crisis pregnancy centers, the government should step up to the plate where volunteerism is overwhelmed.
 
What Democrats will recognize as "sympathy" for the pregnant woman is government intervention. Though Republicans are generally suspicious of big government programs, this may be a time to make some exceptions -- for example, support for a government subsidy of pre- and post-natal care for low-income and under-insured women, or a child-care tax credit (or stay-at-home parent tax credit). The question of coerced abortions could be addressed from a legal standpoint, perhaps by requiring clinics to screen for coercion or including coercion-to-abort clauses within domestic violence provisions. In some cases, even such a thing as raising the minimum wage becomes pro-life, in that it might encourage low-income families to feel more secure in their ability to care for a child. Simply by addressing the "demand" side of the equation, it's conceivable that certain pieces of legislation could reduce abortion without directly referring to the practice itself.
 
 
Strategy No. 3: Explain the Harmful Health Effects of Abortion
 
Democrats have always been on the forefront of issues related to women's health, but they've tragically grouped abortion under this umbrella issue, alleging discrimination against women when this "health" concern is not adequately addressed. However, abortion represents a grave threat to women's health.
 
New findings from a study in Finland show that abortion is more physically dangerous than previously believed -- substantially more dangerous than childbirth. (Finland is an excellent choice for such a study because its government provides socialized medical care with centralized records.) A 2004 article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology relates how researchers from Finland's National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health looked at the death certificate records from 1987 to 2000 for all women ages 15 to 49 (i.e., of reproductive age). Their findings show that post-abortive women are 3.5 times more likely to die within twelve months after abortion than women after childbirth within the same period. In addition, abortion is a risk factor for future miscarriages and premature births, as well as for breast cancer.
 
Democrats also recognize that a person's body doesn't give the whole picture of a person's health; the person's mental state must be considered, too. But abortion, which is sometimes promoted as reducing women's stress, actually leads to increased rates of depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, and even psychiatric hospitalization (well-documented in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, the Clinical Psychological Review, and other peer-reviewed journals). In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, women who procured an abortion had an almost 500 percent greater suicide risk than women who had given birth -- as measured within the twelve months following either the abortion or the birth.
 
When all of this information is taken together, the pro-life position can be shown for what it really is: far more pro-woman than the pro-choice position. (For more information about the harmful effects of abortion on women's health, see "How Abortion Hurts Women: The Hard Proof," by Erika Bachiochi.)
 
 
Strategy No. 4: Emphasize the Inherent Discrimination of Abortion
 
Democrats were historically the party of the underdog. What Democrats need to see is that abortion is actually another form of discrimination against the weakest members of our society: unborn children.
 
The right to life is the fundamental human right, without which all others are meaningless. How will we practice the right to free speech, the right to follow any religion (or no religion), the right to assemble, the right to pursue happiness, if we don't first have the right to live? All other rights are secondary to and dependent upon the right to life.
 
There's also a strong parallel between abortion and slavery. The Supreme Court declared both slavery and abortion to be constitutional. Slavery denied the personhood of the African American; abortion denies the personhood of the extremely young. The defense of slavery rested on a person's right to do what he wants with his own "property," while the defense of abortion rests on a woman's right to do what she wants with her own body. The unsettling implications of that parallel are hard to ignore.
 
A final piece of evidence comes from the history of the pro-choice movement itself. Abortion in the United States was promoted partially to control the growth of socially undesirable people. PBS's American Experience quotes Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger as saying, "Birth control is nothing more or less than the facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit [and] of preventing the birth of defectives." Even today, Planned Parenthood's clinics are most common in inner cities. Thirty-five percent of all abortions are performed on black women, even though African Americans comprise only 12 percent of the United States' population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more African Americans' lives have been ended by abortion since 1973 than by AIDS, cancer, heart disease, accidents, and murder combined.
 
 
Strategy No. 5: Discuss the Science of Fetal Development
 
When it comes to scientific advances in the field of fetal development over the last 30 years, some pro-choice advocates are simply misinformed. Pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and NOW like to claim that the fetus is simply extra tissue in the woman's body that can be disposed of easily. However, any medical textbook on fetal development shows clearly that the fetus is obviously a distinct person from the mother:
 
· The fetus has unique DNA, different from the mother's, at the moment of conception.
· The fetus has a heartbeat 18 days after conception, which is usually before the woman even knows she's pregnant.
· The fetus often has a different blood type than the mother.
· The fetus has measurable brain activity less than 45 days after conception, well before most abortions in America take place.
 
Published material on fetal development that's neither politically nor religiously affiliated can be very useful educational tools, as are images from the new 3-D sonograms.
 
Democrats usually favor government involvement in scientific advances. Remind them that Democrats proposed our mission to the moon more than four decades ago, advocated for alternative energy sources, realized the importance of mental health to a person's overall well-being, and tried to repair the damage we've done to our environment. Now it's time for the Democratic Party to accept the science behind human development.
 
If a Democrat tries to argue (as I once did) that human personhood begins when brain waves exist, another helpful argument is the existence of anencephalic babies -- that is, children born without a brain who usually live outside of the womb for only a few hours. It's hard to argue that a nine-month-old baby with such a birth defect isn't a person. Point out that humans in a persistent vegetative state are still "persons" deserving of certain civil rights and governmental protection. The existence of brain waves isn't useful as a measuring stick for personhood.
 
 
Democrats for Life
 
It's necessary to drive home the point that being pro-life doesn't mean being Republican. Acknowledging the universal right to life can and should be distinct from any personal political preference. If you feel that your words have had an effect, encourage them to check out www.democratsforlife.org, a national organization for pro-life Democrats.
 
Most of all, stress that the Democratic Party has considered itself the party that speaks for and protects those who cannot protect themselves, the voice for the voiceless. The unborn are the ultimate example of the powerless. It's time for more Democrats to speak up.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: democrats
Eric Pavlat is a convert from pro-choice agnosticism whose conversion story appears in Surprised by Truth 2 (Sophia Institute Press, 2000). He's also a board member of Democrats for Life of Maryland, Inc., and a blogger and columnist for InsideCatholic.com.&
1 posted on 10/30/2009 10:23:14 AM PDT by NYer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
Catholic Ping
Please freepmail me if you want on/off this list


2 posted on 10/30/2009 10:24:45 AM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Beyond prayer, the key to any discussion is to locate the common ground you share with your conversation partner and work from there.

He lost me there. Our country has become so polarized that there is little hope of finding common ground. If I did find common ground I would immediately rethink my position on that topic.

3 posted on 10/30/2009 10:33:33 AM PDT by BubbaBasher ("Liberty will not long survive the total extinction of morals" - Sam Adams)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Mistake #1 is allowing them to control the language. Pro-choice is simply pro-murder. The quicker we take back the language and frame the debate in Conservative terms, the sooner we can expose them for the cruel, inhumane despicable people they really are.

Next time someone drops the pro-choice term, come back with “So you like murdering little babies, eh?”


4 posted on 10/30/2009 10:33:36 AM PDT by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer

I have found that the best strategy is to talk to teenagers. 9th and 10th grade is best.

At this point in their life, they are generally apolitical. Their minds are looking for answers and it’s best to give them the right answer first.

I explain to them that they will probably encounter a friend that is pregnant some time in their near future. I explain to them that their friend will be very scared. I explain that their friend will be desperately looking for guidance in this difficult situation. I explain that their friend will probably come to them before they go to their parents, because they trust them. I explain that THAT makes them a VERY important person in their life and that they had better be prepared to provide the right answer...one that their friend won’t regret later. Then I explain the evils and long-lasting scars of abortion and that they need to pass that information along to their friend.


5 posted on 10/30/2009 10:39:27 AM PDT by kidd (Obama: The triumph of hope over evidence)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Remind them it was a good thing their mother was pro-life once; or they wouldn't be here to have this debate.
6 posted on 10/30/2009 10:42:39 AM PDT by skully (Sorry I didn't know Marxism was a race!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NTHockey

Good.

and
“Does the baby get a choice? How about the father? The grandparents? Does society get a choice if they want to support the increased probability of depression or breast cancer?”


7 posted on 10/30/2009 10:44:37 AM PDT by kidd (Obama: The triumph of hope over evidence)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: NTHockey

Absolutely right. Pretzel semantics and weasel words are part of the problem. Call it what it is - the murder of innocent unborn children.


8 posted on 10/30/2009 10:45:13 AM PDT by Apercu ("A man's character is his fate" - Heraclitus)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Apercu

Well said.


9 posted on 10/30/2009 10:54:05 AM PDT by joeystoy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: NTHockey
Mistake #1 is allowing them to control the language. Pro-choice is simply pro-murder.

Absolutely. Whenever this issue comes up during conversation/debate with libtard family and friends. I never use the word abortion, and always purposely refer to it as “baby killing”. When they say they prefer the term “abortion”; I tell them I understand why. I mean if I supported baby killing, I guess I'd invent a term to make my view more palatable to myself too.

10 posted on 10/30/2009 10:56:56 AM PDT by skully (Sorry I didn't know Marxism was a race!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: NYer
Pro-aborts always try to marginalize any argument against abortion by saying it's a religious issue, and only between a woman and her God.

The reality is, it is a scientific fact that a human being is created at conception. After that, one can only choose to philosophically argue when it is morally right to kill a human. The pro-aborts are terrified of that truth.

11 posted on 10/30/2009 11:04:18 AM PDT by MEGoody (Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
With respect to common ground, if the other person isn't religious, don't rely on religious anti-abortion arguments. If that's the angle you want to take, then you've got to work on converting them to establish the foundation that your argument rests on and trying to build an argument on religious grounds without a religious foundation is like building on sand. It's entirely possible to argue against abortion without bringing up religion at all. In fact, people who support aboriton are often taken by surprise by non-religious arguments because on of their stock responses to to frame abortion as a religious difference of opinion.

I'm not suggesting people hide from their faith, but if that's your approach, focus on the faith, first, and don't jump right in to abortion.

12 posted on 10/30/2009 11:44:27 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: BubbaBasher
He lost me there.

Did you even bother to read the article?!!

13 posted on 10/30/2009 12:17:52 PM PDT by NYer ( "One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: NYer

Great article, NYer. Many thanks.


14 posted on 10/30/2009 12:49:08 PM PDT by Faith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
How to Talk to Democrats About Abortion: Five Strategies for Making the Pro-Life Case

Practice helps. Start by trying to sell timeshares in Harlem. Once you've mastered that, move on to talking raindrops into falling up.

15 posted on 10/30/2009 1:52:50 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (Fight for it or lose it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NYer
I can speak from experience when I say that Strategy #2 is extremely effective, but there's a hitch.
We need a system in which no woman feels there's a need for abortion. In other words, we need to admit that the U.S. government isn't yet doing what it should to establish justice and promote the general welfare when it comes to pregnant women. While volunteer groups have bravely filled an important void in crisis pregnancy centers, the government should step up to the plate where volunteerism is overwhelmed.
The reason that Democrats respond to this is that this is socialism. What system would make a woman feel there is no need for an abortion? A system where she doesn't have to worry about housing and feeding her child. Also a system where she doesn't have to worry about affording pre-natal care or the cost of the actual birth. What kind of country guarantees those things? A socialist country.

So, which is worse? Having half the country be pro-abortion or having more socialism in our nation?

16 posted on 10/30/2009 2:17:42 PM PDT by Mr. Know It All
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Know It All
So, which is worse? Having half the country be pro-abortion or having more socialism in our nation?

**************************************************

Any crisis pregnancy assistance must be privately run ... we cannot allow ourselves to go 100% socialist like Cuba ... if you think socialist means the end of abortion because the womans and childs needs will be met think again .. in Russia women having double digit abortion counts was ROUTINE ,, in Cuba 90% of all pregnancies end in abortion ,, the mothers don't want their children to live in a system like that and the system would rather abort for the price of a few minutes of a doctors time than take on the burden of another mouth.

17 posted on 10/30/2009 2:35:02 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Neidermeyer
Any crisis pregnancy assistance must be privately run...
The point made in Strategy #2 is that "the government should step in" when those private efforts fall short. Naturally, that appeals to Democrats. So are you saying that given the choice between converting a Democrat to pro-life and opposing socialism, you'd oppose socialism?
in Cuba 90% of all pregnancies end in abortion

Wow. That's not even CLOSE to true. It was 34% in 2005. You'll notice that "use fabricated statistics" was not in the list of suggested strategies. There's a reason for that: a lot of Democrats know how to use Google and if you don't check your facts, you look either foolish or dishonest.

Also, while Cuba is socialist, it is also extremely poor. Abortion rates in a wealthy socialist country, like Sweden, are lower (25%). They aren't significantly higher than the US (23%). Canada, with it's single-payer system is slightly lower (22%), and the UK with its government-run National Health Service also comes in at 22%. That would suggest we could save some children by adopting either of their systems, right? Obviously, it's not that simple.

Really, if you look at the data, what lowers the abortion rate is freedom and economic opportunity (which are related). Socialism itself does not appear to play a huge role either way.

18 posted on 10/30/2009 5:09:58 PM PDT by Mr. Know It All
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Know It All
Your cherry picking sources ,, your UN source shows a rate less than half what the Guttmacher Inst. has listed for 1996 ,, 77.7% in Cuba ,, I have seen the 90% rate listed for them in other places but won't bother to search for it now, I don't want to continue a pointless pissing contest. I believe the 90% numbers were actually a 75-80% abortion rate plus early infant deaths which were listed as abortion so their infant mortality numbers would look better ,, just like East Germany used to do. I see you're not contesting the percentages in eastern european countries.

Don't you understand that Cuba reports WHAT IT WANTS TO REPORT and that it's numbers (the numbers you quote) are just as made up as Obama's "jobs created or saved" ... The 90% actual numbers were an embarrasment so they changed what they report ... The point I was making is that if we go socialist/communist like Cuba then all your good intentions don't matter...

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/25s3099.html

And yes I have contributed to crisis pregnancy centers in the past.

19 posted on 10/30/2009 7:39:46 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Know It All
Really, if you look at the data, what lowers the abortion rate is freedom and economic opportunity (which are related). Socialism itself does not appear to play a huge role either way.

***********************************************

Please re-read the last line in your post and explain to those of us that obviously aren't as sophisticated and nuanced as you how you can say "... what lowers the abortion rate is freedom and economic opportunity (which are related)." and then you throw the engines in reverse at full power and say "Socialism itself does not appear to play a huge role either way." I just can't seem to square those two statements up with each other. Help me understand...

20 posted on 10/30/2009 8:10:36 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: Neidermeyer

You’re going to have to help me understand: why are those two statements hard to “square”?


21 posted on 10/31/2009 4:36:46 AM PDT by Mr. Know It All
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Know It All

Socialism=poverty/lack of opportunity ... then you go onto say it’s irrelevant?? That’s wacked out thinking.. you’re ready to star on “the View”.


22 posted on 10/31/2009 12:31:12 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Neidermeyer
Socialism=poverty/lack of opportunity ...
Do you have any actual idea what socialism is? Sweden is a very socialist country and it is not a poor country by any stretch of the imagination. The subject of this thread was changing the hearts and minds of people who see things differently that we do. We're not going to do that with invented statistics and simple-minded and easily-debunked slogans.
23 posted on 10/31/2009 7:50:40 PM PDT by Mr. Know It All
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Mr. Know It All
Your idea to fund crisis pregnancy centers with government money is a non starter ... Don't you understand that if you take any amount of money you will be obligated to do things their way. In the governments eyes abortion is a VERY VALID option ,, and a quick fix ,, and the government just happens to be in the abortion business ... Do you want your local crisis pregnancy center to be required by law to offer pro abortion counseling and hand out abortion vouchers from medicaid? You're in the wrong part of the internet to sing the praises of reliance on government.
24 posted on 11/01/2009 2:08:35 PM PST by Neidermeyer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson