By Dave Andrusko
The headline not only cut to the chase–“I Don’t Know If I’m Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos: I’ve supported abortion rights. This year may be different“‘–it affirmed what Planned Parenthood most fears about the fallout from the five Center for Medical Progress videos. And that is that men such as Ruben Navarrette, Jr. are rethinking their support for abortion–not in a flighty, off-handed manner, but in a way that is compelling them to consider first principles.
I’m going to begin by jumpping ahead to the end because it’s very important to the bigger picture. There we learn that Navarrette’s wife is pro-life and she been “tearing into me every time a new video is released.”
She’s not buying my argument that, as a man, I have to defer to women and trust them to make their own choices about what to do with their bodies. To her, that’s ridiculous—and cowardly.
“You can’t stand on the sidelines, especially now that you’ve seen these videos,” she told me recently. “That’s B.S.! These are babies that are being killed. Millions of them. And you need to use your voice to protect them. That’s what a man does. He protects children—his own children, and other children. That’s what it means to be a man.”
Ouch! But a needed verbal volley to stiffen his spine.
I could start by quoting many of the statements Navarrette makes that help us understand why the videos are tearing down the walls of resistance he first erected 30 years ago in college. But let me cite just one before getting to the key part of the essay.
Responding to the argument that “Anyone who watches these videos knows that Planned Parenthood is engaged in barbaric practices and human rights abuses that must end,” Navarrette writes
I agree with that assessment, and I’m pro-choice. At least I thought I was until recently. These days, each time, I express concern, outrage, disgust, or horror over another video—which should come with warnings that they may produce nightmares—some supporter of the organization responds by attacking me and insisting that I was never really pro-choice to begin with.
Think of it this way. Supporters of Planned Parenthood find themselves in an unenviable position. Who can possibly defend artfully “crunching” unborn babies so as to preserve baby organs intact?
Nobody, which is why they falsely insist the videos were “heavily edited” and dream up the assertion that “Research using fetal tissue saves hundreds of thousands of lives worldwide every year,” to quote PPFA’s Clergy Advocacy Board.
But Navarrette’s complaint cuts deeper and is far more dangerous to Planned Parenthood and its ilk: he is angry that unless he defends this barbarism he must turn in his “pro-choice” credentials.
In effect, “I must defend this or else?” Yes.
With those alternatives, he is choosing “or else.”
Note that his conscience has been pricked for some time. His journey began with what he calls “refinements” to his “pro-choice” position, such as
going along with waiting periods and parental notification laws at the state level, and coming out against the barbaric practice known as partial birth abortion.
Let’s end by going back where we started. His wife refuses to allow him to cop out, to meekly submit to the “you can’t get pregnant so you have no voice” hammer.
As I’ve only realized lately, to be a man, and to declare yourself pro-choice, is to proclaim your neutrality. And, as I’ve only recently been willing to admit, even to myself, that’s another name for “wimping out.”
I understand this is only one pro-choice man, but it’s why he is now in the homestretch to becoming fully pro-life that is so significant.
Like too many men, Navarrette accepts that he has no right to speak. Some men do this because they are browbeaten, but many others fall back on this excuse because it gives them freedom to stand on the sidelines and accept no responsibility for what happens to over 1 million unborn children each and every year.
When that unwillingness to stand up for unborn children begins to dissipate on a wide scale–and it will–we will look back and see that the shift for many began with the atrocities unveiled in the Center for Medical Progress’s videos.