Why abortion-on-demand is on the way out

Marvin Olasky
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Posted: May 06, 2004 12:00 AM

Last week's big pro-abort march in Washington set off alarm bells in pro-life quarters: After several years of pro-life gains, is the culture swinging left again? No need to worry, for five reasons, with the most important reason last.

 1. This was the first big pro-abort Washington rally in 12 years, so organizers could tap into a lot of pent-up gotta-move-my-legs sentiment, as well as some weird thinking evidenced in this Associated Press quotation from Carole Mehlman, a 68-year-old Tampa, Fla., woman who came to march: "I just had to be here to fight for the next generation and the generation after that." Think about it.

 2. Second, take a look at -- no, save your money or time, I'll summarize his thesis for you -- a book by William Saletan, "Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War" (University of California Press, 2003). The subtitle is misleading, since Saletan actually shows how liberal pro-aborts gained an edge in the late '80s and the early '90s by appealing to anti-government sentiment. But the success of those appeals, the author worries, makes it harder to get government funding of abortions and to fight parental notification laws, and undercuts liberalism's big-government penchant generally.

 3. The older generation of pro-aborts has had to relinquish its ideological purity to retain not only some general public support but contact with the younger generation, as well. Two-thirds of 18-to-24-year-olds in one poll said a young woman seeking an abortion should have to wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure and, if younger than 18, obtain her parents' consent. And take a look at this heresy uttered by Grayson Crosby, 24, who started volunteering at a Planned Parenthood clinic when she was 13 and is still on the pro-abort side: "I was talking to a lot of groups who were incredibly feminist, who would say things like, 'I don't feel comfortable with late-term abortion' ... When a national spokeswoman says, 'It's just a woman's right to choose,' she's not acknowledging the questions such women have." Ouch. Better watch that, Crosby.

 4. Your SAT question for today is, "Which of the following four does not go with the other three?" (a) Heroic soldier Pat Tillman, (b) A Yankelovich survey showing that 89 percent of Gen Xers think modern parents let kids get away with too much, (c) A 66 percent decline in juvenile burglary from 1993 to 2001, (d) An abortion surge over the next decade. 

 The correct answer is D: If younger people respond to calls to do what's right, reject parents who say that anything is right and control anti-social impulses, they are leaving 1960s and 1970s thinking behind -- and may also leave behind the older generation's policy innovations.

 5. The apostle Paul, in chapter one of Romans, writes about our human tendency to suppress the truth in unrighteousness -- but it may be that we can fully suppress it only for so long. Forget the cleverness of the pro-aborts Saletan describes: Truth eventually overcomes propaganda. Ultrasound technology plus intrauterine photography is making the humanity of the unborn child visible to all. Beyond all that, God's in charge and He works on consciences. The heavens declare His glory, and an unborn child, fearfully and wonderfully made, displays his handiwork. That teaching from Psalms 19 and 139 shows us why the pro-life side will eventually win the abortion war.

 But eventually is a long time, especially for today's womb-babies. So I'd advise anyone concerned about abortion not to spend time worrying about what the other side is doing. I'd tell such folks: Thank God for the pro-life heroes who put in long hours (for example, counseling at crisis pregnancy centers), and perhaps become one yourself.