The power of pro-life persuasion to convert pro-choicers into defenders of life

By Dave Andrusko

rockslidereYou would think by now, after writing a gabillion stories about how opinions on abortion are not etched in stone, I would have learned at least two lessons. One, you never know what will “tip” someone from being abortion neutral (or even an abortion supporter) to a pro-life champion. Two, don’t assume because someone is (say) a “liberal,” they automatically are pro-abortion.

Of the latter, let me just say a word or two. I just learned yesterday by happenstance that someone whose background would seemingly assure that she is not with us reads NRL News Today regularly.

Who’d thunk? I didn’t–and shame on me.

Of the former, let me start by acknowledging that many, many people think they have their minds made up.

But this is an illusion more often than you would think. Why?

Most people have not thought abortion through in any serious way, any more than they have any other contentious issue. What they have is an inclination to which they cling to out of habit.

Approached in the right manner, that reflective support for abortion can readily be turned into a commitment to protect the most vulnerable among us: the unborn child.

Let me explain by quoting a passage from author Philip Yancey in one of his fine books. Although it is about another subject entirely, the basic insight is highly relevant to our discussion.

In the mountains where I live, geologists and miners use the elegant term ‘angle of repose’ to describe the precise angle at which a boulder will rest on the side of a hill, rather than tumble downward. …Every so often one of these boulders breaks loose, releasing the potential energy in a crashing rockslide that permanently alters the landscape. Something similar happens in an avalanche, when an accumulation of tiny, almost weightless snowflakes breaks loose.

That is how I see most people’s posture on abortion. Not dug in and immovable but precariously perched in a way that the slightest push can send it moving in a pro-life direction. Tremendous “potential energy” is then unleashed on behalf of the babies.

Years back, the long debate over partial-birth abortion permanently altered the interior landscape of many Americans. That sent them racing away from self-identifying as “pro-choice” to embrace a self-description as pro-life.

And while most media outlets tried to pretend he didn’t exist, the public was partially exposed to the depravities of convicted murderer abortionist Kermit Gosnell. And, regardless of what abortion apologists insist, Gosnell, now serving three consecutive life sentences, is not one of a kind.

For still others, the shift will be initiated by something so awful it sucks the very air out of their lungs. For example (as NRLC put it), the realization

“that abortions are frequently performed late in pregnancy, on babies who are capable of being born alive, and on babies who will experience great pain while being killed.”

Will everyone react to the same set of facts or in the same way? Of course not.

For example for others–many others–it may be a far gentler persuader. It could be that an ultrasound picture of their baby–or any baby–becomes the final “snowflake” that sets off an avalanche of revulsion against abortion.

There is a reason pro-abortionists react so hysterically to passage of even the most limited, commonsense legislation. They understand (far better than we do, I suspect) that abortion’s “angle of repose” has always been precariously balanced.

But never more so than today.