Understanding the abortion “language war” and the unyielding perseverance of pro-lifers

By Dave Andrusko

For the last post of the week, I’d like to comment on two abortion-related stories that appeared this week in the pro-abortion-to-the-hilt New York Times but were, by and large, remarkably balanced. This is not to be confused with the usual hyperbole-strewn NYTimes coverage but to acknowledge some darn good work.

(Time got away from me. Next week I’ll write about a very thoughtful program that aired this week on PBS’s “Frontline.” It’s titled “Supreme Revenge,” which is about the Supreme Court and the legacy of the successful attack on Judge Robert Bork followed by the unsuccessful all-out assault on Judge, now Justice, Clarence Thomas. Contrary to the few reviews I read about it, the viewer is not suffocated with pro-abortion rhetoric, one-sided opinion-mongering, and/or the election of President Trump described as the impending end of Western Civilization.)

Amy Harmon’s piece, that ran May 22, is literally about the battle of words, i.e., “The Language Wars of the Abortion Debate.”

The best way to understand the language wars is exemplified by what opponents and proponents of dismemberment abortion say about a “technique” that rips apart living unborn babies, limb from limb, until the baby bleeds to death. Pro-abortionists, bless their hearts, as always want antiseptic language used, for example “dilation and evacuation,” as if the child is being moved to a safe house rather than the grave.

And, as always, they let us know they are the oh-so-smart-ones:

“Medical procedures are not familiar to a lay audience, people don’t like to think about them, and they are hard to explain on a bumper sticker,” said Carole Joffe, a sociologist who studies abortion politics at the University of California, San Francisco. “That has put the pro-choice movement at a disadvantage.”

Agreed, people aren’t eager to talk about tearing off little arms and tiny legs. However, I would argue it is instinctive revulsion like this that is the “thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness” (to borrow from Werner Herzog).

The other story ran May 18 and was written by Elizabeth Dias, Sabrina Tavernise, and Alan Blinder. “’This Is a Wave’: Inside the Network of Anti-Abortion Activists Winning Across the Country.”

Not being insiders, no matter how many people they interviewed, they couldn’t get all, or even most, of the nuances correct. But here are some insights they did get right.

*Of course different pro-life organizations will promote different pieces of legislation at different times. That is and always will be a prudential judgment, based on experience, connections to state legislative leaders, and timing. That is a strength.

*“Empowered by a president who pushes their priorities, by a Supreme Court now seemingly tipped in their favor and by sheer determination, anti-abortion activists and lawmakers across the country have pushed dozens of bills into law in the past few months.” We were pushing pro-life measures before President Trump assumed office. But as we have written dozens and dozens of times, Mr. Trump has been a catalyst for pro-life legislative activism. He is, without question, the most pro-life President we have ever had.

*“This cultural movement is finding wins beyond the outright abortion bans,” Dias, Tavernise, and Blinder observe. “In Arkansas, where lawmakers recently banned most abortions after 18 weeks, Rose Mimms, who has led Arkansas Right to Life for 26 years, worked to pass additional priorities of the movement that have gotten much less public attention,” such as “amending the state’s safe haven law.” These laws are hugely important and include such initiatives as information about Abortion Pill Reversal, a second chance for women who have second thoughts about taking a second drug after beginning a chemical abortion. Finally

*“Republican control over state legislatures, built since the Tea Party wave in 2010, has made much of the anti-abortion movement’s success possible.” We are overwhelmed by the zealousness with which Democrats are pushing abortion on demand throughout pregnancy, which has slid past birth and into a tacit acceptance of infanticide by neglect.

But what is the barrier that keeps these anti-life fanatics at bay? Pro-life Republicans, at the state and federal levels.

You can’t stop anti-life proposals without pro-life office holders. You can’t enact pro-life proposals without pro-life office holders.