By Dave Andrusko
We’ve written twice before about the new PBS series on Prohibition simply because we knew that there would be all sorts of insidious comparisons between the campaign that culminated in enactment of the 18th Amendment and our effort to protect unborn babies. And it didn’t require a lot of foresight to know that in light of the upcoming presidential election, that various and sundry pundits would predict that the Pro-Life Movement would vanish just as did those who “crusaded” for Prohibition.
Enter “What if abortion became a non-issue,” by CNN contributor David Frum. He is all over the map, so let’s address the major mileposts.
There is this persistent, amazingly stubborn myth that there is some simple (and not nice) explanation why you and I oppose the slaughter of unborn babies. Usually it takes the form of either (a) some nonsense about resistance to “modernity” in general, or (b) “status anxiety”—people are upset about women’s increasing equality. (This serves the handy purpose of negating the undeniable fact that most of the leadership positions in our Movement are held by women!)
Frum’s contributions begin with maintaining that just as Americans drink less than they did before Prohibition, fewer women are having abortions today. Ergo, no need to go further to protect the unborn because the numbers are diminishing on their own and, besides, if we did succeed we’d experience the same failure as the Movement behind the 18th Amendment.
But the number of abortions have not gone down in the absence of legislative action but precisely because of it. Informed consent, in all its educational iterations, preventing public funding of abortion, and parental involvement laws are the primary explanations.
And we will succeed as states are given the authority to re-regulate abortion. Unlike our opponents, we are quite willing to make our case to the people in the 50 state legislatures.
Frum tiresomely argues that abortion is a subset of a larger debate over sexuality in general—and “differences over abortion will come to matter less” as there comes a “new dispensation more comfortable with both women’s equality to men and their differences from men.”
I’m not entirely sure what that means, but if the gist is that abortion will go away –or at least won’t “matter as furiously”–as “we come to a new consensus about the status of women,” this misses the point.
The public’s growing pro-life views have come about precisely during the time that our culture has been marked by greater and greater levels of equality. (Our Movement—led by women—has long been a shining example of cooperative equality between the sexes.) Indeed, equality is a core value for our Movement—equality for the born and the unborn, which includes unborn females.
Every four years we are told that the abortion issue will (to borrow from the Marxists) “wither away.” It won’t because it addresses an issue far more fundamental than alcohol consumption. In the words of the late Richard John Neuhaus, it is the question
Who belongs to the community for which we as a community accept responsibility, including the responsibility to protect their right to life?
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