Winning the Battle   Part 1:  Educating the Public

"A good argument combined with powerful, truthful images, never fails to change minds.  People abandon their pro-choice views, they become pro-life, and they never go the other way.  It happens again and again."
- Greg Koukl, Making Abortion Unthinkable


Abortion in America is not here to stay.  It can be made unthinkable and illegal once again.  Furthermore, this can be accomplished far faster than most people realize, if only we take the proper steps and attack the problem zealously.

It is extremely important that we realize this!  We must burn it into our consciousnesses!  The assumption that abortion is permanent is the worst mistake we could ever possibly make.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that destroys our hope and shatters our fighting spirit.  It is not only incorrect, but also selfish, for it panders to a desire we all share, the desire to be relinquished from responsibility.  After all, if we do not have the power to end abortion, we do not have the duty to try.

Praise God!  We CAN end abortion, and this is how we think it can be done.     



WHY CURRENT TACTICS ARE INADEQUATE

We do not believe that the American pro-life movement has pursued the end of abortion in the best manner possible.  It has focused too much energy on politics and/or saving individual babies, and far too little on making abortion unthinkable.  It has not demanded that ordinary Christians participate in regular anti-abortion activism, forcing all the work to be done by small teams of professionals.  While these efforts have had some success in reducing the number of abortions and changing public opinion, they are woefully inadequate.   This is because:

  1. Meaningful legislation cannot be enacted until there is a significant shift in the public mindset
  2. The public mindset cannot be adequately altered with the resources currently available to the pro-life movement
Thus we propose a different focus that entails different demands on the average pro-lifer.






THE FIRST STEP
MAKING ABORTION UNTHINKABLE THROUGH WIDESPREAD EDUCATION OF THE PUBLIC


To begin with, we must realize that we are a lot better off than we thought.  Despite 41 years of legalized abortion on demand, despite millions of parents who have decided to kill their children, despite decades of pro-choice propaganda by the abortion industry and their willing accomplices in the press and academia, despite a culture that has deteriorated dramatically since 1973, abortion remains unpopular.  44-56% of the nation already agrees that abortion is immoral1, and the more we learn about it, the less popular it becomes.



  Does this surprise you?  Did you think that most of America was solidly pro-choice?  You’re not alone.  Pro-life Americans have an inferiority complex.  We assume that the majority of our countrymen are pro-abortion.  A Gallup survey completed in August of 2013, 51% of respondents said that the nation was pro-choice, while only 35% thought it was pro-life.  But the same survey reported that 48% of respondents called themselves pro-life and only 45% called themselves pro-choice!2  How is it possible for us to be so out of touch with one another?



The abortion industry and their accomplices in the media have done a good job of convincing everyone that everyone else loves abortion.  They correctly report that Americans have consistently supported the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, and that the number of Americans identifying as “pro-choice” typically polls slightly higher than the number identifying as “pro-life”.   But while true, these figures are very misleading.




 Addressing the Knowledge Problem

They are misleading because Americans know almost nothing about abortion!   Nearly every comprehensive survey reveals that the American public is completely confused as to what abortion does, why it happens and when it is legal.

 We don’t understand what Roe vs. Wade was about.  A January, 2013 survey reported that 85% of Americans support Roe, but that only 62% knew it had anything to do with abortion!3  Another survey released in the same month revealed that while 70% of Americans opposed overturning Roe, only 39% approve of Roe itself and 44% say they don’t know enough to have an opinion!4 


We don’t realize how radical current abortion policy really is.
 
Abortion is legal throughout all 9 months of pregnancy and for any reason whatsoever, due primarily to the combined influence of the Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton Supreme Court decisions which, as cited above, remain very popular.  Yet 77% of Americans would support a ban on sex-selective abortions5, 79% would support a ban on abortions after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy6 and 55% a ban on abortions performed because the mother feels she cannot support another child (about 74% of abortions)7. 

Approximately 44-58% of Americans would ban abortion completely, except when the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.  As less than 5% of abortions take place for those reasons, this means that a majority of Americans are opposed to 95% of all abortions!



As late as 2005, support for a Constitutional Amendment that would ban abortion in all cases but to save the life of the mother polled as high as 37% of the population8, while more recently only a small minority of Americans, perhaps as few as 9%, support abortion-on-demand as defined by Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton9.

General discomfort with most aspects of abortion has held steady in the forty years since it became legal, even while Americans become more socially liberal in general10.  Even some leaders in the abortion industry now admit this to be true11.



What do you think would happen if Americans suddenly learned the truth about abortion?  What if they realized that most abortions are performed on perfectly healthy women carrying perfectly healthy babies, and used basically as a means of birth control?  Furthermore, what if they were to learn how fast the Unborn child develops within the womb, and how many other options were available to unexpectedly pregnant women?  Can you even begin to imagine the dramatic shift in public opinion that were to take place were the public simply better informed?




Addressing the Moral Problem




As important as it is to get the facts straight, it is even more important to explain why these facts demonstrate that abortion is immoral.  Fortunately, this is easy.  The logic of the pro-life position is impossible to refute:
  1. It is wrong to kill an innocent human being
  2. Abortion kills an innocent human being

  3. Therefore, abortion is wrong


Since as many as 56% of Americans already agree that life begins at conception8, the case against abortion is not hard to make.  Yet how many millions of our countrymen have never bothered to think through this simple formula!



What do you think would happen if every American were obliged to pause and consider the implications of the pro-life position?  Can we seriously imagine that any great number of them would walk away from the experience in support of abortion-on-demand?  As dead as the American conscience has become, it is not yet that dead.



Those of us who engage in pro-life educational activism are witnesses to a strange phenomenon.  When a pro-choice person actually listens to the clear logic of the pro-life position, that person starts to think rationally about the subject for the first time in his or her life.  He or she is often surprised that there even was a pro-life argument, and fumble around for a reason, any reason, to continue justifying abortion.  Many times these encounters are the first step of a journey that eventually results in he or she becoming pro-life.  Observe how Jack Wilke of National Right to Life Committee was able to change the mind of George H.W. Bush, who in 1984 was the Republican vice presidential candidate and a pro-choice advocate:

"It was a very pleasant day, which I have never forgotten.  I set my projector on a small coffee table.  Mr. Bush was on one side and I on the other.  The aide provided a screen and the briefing began. For about three hours, I would speak, then flip on a slide, then speak some more.  Mr. Bush would question.  I would answer.  When it was time to go, I said,  ‘Well, Mr. Bush, back in Detroit you offered to tell me where you stand.  Now I am going to ask you, would you be so kind as to answer?’  He smiled, looking at me with an Okay you did it sort of look.  He said, ‘I wasn’t here before, but I am now.  I will support an amendment to the Constitution to forbid abortion and to overturn Roe v. Wade.’ "12
Bush’s conversion is not an anomaly.  Whenever pro-life advocates take the time to explain the pro-life position and expose the truth about abortion, hearts melt and minds change.  Please click on the videos below to see this plays out:




It should go without saying that when we seek to demonstrate the humanity of the Unborn and the inhumanity of abortion, it is essential that we take advantage of the greatest tool we have: images of abortion’s victims.  For a detailed argument on why the use of victim images is both justified and effective, click here.




How do we address the knowledge problem and the moral problem?




How can we use what we’ve just learned to end abortion?  It’s quite simple, really. The first step to ending abortion must be massive education of the populace.  The pro-lifers must give people the truth about abortion.   We must refute the lies they have been fed by our opponents and walk people through the simple moral logic of our position.  If we do this, and do it as fast and as zealously as possible, the seemingly impenetrable fortress of the pro-choice worldview will collapse like the house of cards it really is.

But this is where it gets uncomfortable . . . for you and me.   When we mentioned “pro-lifers” in the paragraph above, we were not referring to a pro-life political party, a pro-life news agency or any sort of professional pro-life organization.  We were referring to YOU, the ordinary pro-life person who works an ordinary job and has, more likely than not, never taken part in anything resembling activism before.  It is you that must become an expert in anti-abortion apologetics, you that must hit the street in your spare time, you that must force conversations to take place, and you that must change hearts and minds.  You either must engage in these activities yourself or zealously support (financially) those who do.

Why do we have to do it this way?

We cannot rely on established pro-life organizations alone.
 
They are too small.  As pro-life apologist and lecturer Scott Klusendorf has said, “There are more people working full time to kill babies than there are working full time to save them”.  Considering that there are less than 800 abortion clinics in the United States, this is an astonishing statement.  We estimate that there are fewer than 300 people drawing a paycheck from any sort of anti-abortion organization anywhere in America, and almost all of these are involved in something other than making the public hate abortion.  How can we hope to reach 300,000 Americans with so few workers?  There must be more of us!  We need both:  more full-timers and more dedicated volunteers.

We cannot rely on traditional network media to do this job for us.  Much of traditional media is working hand in hand with the abortion industry.  They have been in bed with that viewpoint so long they no longer realize how biased they are.  This is obvious to anyone who has searched for news coverage of the March for Life, an annual event that draws over 400,000 people yearly to Washington, DC, but which is practically ignored by every major news outlet.  A sizable proportion of the nation does not even realize it takes place.



We cannot r
ely solely on social media.  Social media is great.  It is a remarkably fast way to reach many people very cheaply.  It should not be ignored.  However, social media has a couple handicaps:

  • It's consensual; the viewer must choose to learn from us.  He or she must already have a desire to understand the pro-life position and the patience to think through the arguments.  We cannot force them to read our blogs, watch our videos or look at our pictures.  The internet is already awash in pro-life media of all sorts, but the average American remains sadly ignorant of the facts, because he has no interest in them. 
  • It’s too easy; it takes so little effort that it fails to convey the seriousness and intensity with which we view the abortion crisis.  There has never been a ‘virtual revolution’ and there never will be.  Anyone can spout off their viewpoint online, but it takes a special sort of person to make the same argument to strangers in person.   People sense this instinctively, and it influences how they receive the message.
As Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has written in his booklet Our Media is In the Streets:
"What other avenue is open to pro-lifers by which they can reach the general public with the truth, and do so immediately?  That avenue is the "street", that is to say, the public property which, throughout our history, has been the protected forum by which great and small, rich and poor alike could voice their message to others.  In fact, no major social movement  has succeeded in bringing about change in our country, for better or for worse, without taking to the streets.  Even if the other means of reaching the public were open to us, the street would still have an irreplaceable value and effectiveness." 13
We propose that the average anti-abortion person, with certain exceptions, become a pro-life evangelist within his or her community.  Everyone who is physically able should spend several hours each week participating in activities that educate the public on why abortion is wrong and should be outlawed, such as:
  • Holding conversations with people in areas with high foot traffic

  • Holding conversations with people by going door-to-door
  • Displaying anti-abortion signs with images and/or messages on roadways

  • Distributing anti-abortion literature
  • Promoting free screenings of anti-abortion films (preferably outdoors)
  • Sidewalk chalking anti-abortion messages
  • Wearing informational anti-abortion clothing
Pro-lifers can do this as individuals, but it is better to organize teams of activists that can support one another physically, mentally and spiritually.

We are not, of course, claiming that pro-lifers should not attempt to incorporate both traditional media and social media into our efforts.  Rather, we say that media works best when it supplements and promotes the anti-abortion work that is taking place on the street.   The street is where we promote the vast array of pro-life information already available online (but unnoticed by the average American), and the street is where we capture the attention of traditional media in a way that cannot happen when we stay at home.

To organize anti-abortion activities within a community, there must be more full time anti-abortion activists.  Every metropolitan community should have several at least, as there is plenty of work to do.  Pro-lifers need training and discipleship.  Activism teams require leadership.  Someone must recruit more volunteers.  Someone must deal with the legal pushback that will inevitably come from government and the abortion industry.   

Both the equipment and literature used in such projects, as well as the upkeep of full time activist leaders must be the responsibility of the pro-life community.   Therefore, those who are blessed with financial means beyond their own needs should support the work of others by purchasing materials and providing a place for full timers to live and work.  In fact, some may find that their only job within the pro-life movement is to earn and then donate as much money as possible.

When it’s all said and done, the first step to ending abortion is nothing more than making sure everyone gets the facts straight.  We cannot win the argument until the public understands what we’re talking about.  Massive public education must proceed everything else.



REFERENCES
  1. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx#3
  2. America Much More Pro-LIfe than most Americans Realize, Gallup Finds, LifeSiteNews, August 20, 2013:   http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2013/08/america-much-more-pro-life-than-most-americans-realize-gallup-finds/#.UiCtzryPVBo
  3. Pew Poll on Abortion Absurdly Inacurate, National Right to Life News, January 16, 2013:  http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2013/01/pew-poll-on-abortion-absurdly-inaccurate/#.UPeDNPL-j_Y
  4. NBC, Wall Street Journal Poll, January 12-15, 2013:  http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sections/A_Politics/_Today_Stories_Teases/Supreme-court-question.pdf
  5. 77% of Americans Support Ban on Sex Selective Abortion, LifeSiteNews, May 17, 2012:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/poll-77-of-americans-support-ban-on-sex-selective-abortion?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=a59b4dc559-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_05_17_2012&utm_medium=email
  6. 79% of Americans back major restrictions on abortion: survey, LifeSiteNews, January 20, 2012:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/79-of-americans-back-major-restrictions-on-abortion-survey?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2a3cc9d368-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_01_19_2012&utm_medium=email
  7. Trends in Public Attitudes Towards Abortion, National Opinion Research Center, May, 2013:  http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/725601-trends-in-public-attitudes-toward-abortion.html
  8. Gallup, November 11-13, 2005:  http://www.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx#2
  9. Public Opinion and the Embryo Debates, The New Atlantis, February, 2008:  http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/public-opinion-and-the-embryo-debates
  10. New Gallup Survey Mixed News for Social Conservatives, LifeSiteNews, May 30, 2013:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/blog/new-gallup-survey-mixed-news-for-social-conservatives?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=aafb5e1b3c-LifeSiteNews_com_US_Headlines_05_30_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0caba610ac-aafb5e1b3c-379472406
  11. A Pro-Abortionist who admits public believes abortion should not be legal in most cases, National Right to Life News, August 7, 2013:  http://www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2013/08/a-pro-abortionist-who-admits-public-believes-abortion-should-not-be-legal-in-most-cases/#.UgNL5byPVBo
  12. Romney's Convesion . . . Is it Authentic? LifeSiteNews, June 18, 2012:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/romneys-conversion-on-abortion-is-is-authentic
  13. Our Media is in the Street, Frank Pavone, independently published booklet available at
    http://www.priestsforlife.org/brochures/ourmedia.html
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