Paul Greenberg

The line between fact and fiction in politics can be blurry. I'm reminded of that every time I see still another strange quote of Sarah Palin's ("I can see Russia from my house!") that was actually spoken by her talented mimic, Tina Fey.

It's another proof that, as the neurologists tell us, the centers of memory and imagination are closely related in the human brain. Psychologists call it the Misinformation Effect, and there's a lot of it going around. There always is as an election year approaches.

Facts can be elastic things, at least when they're replaced by powerful visual images in the mind. How many moviegoers by now think Brad Pitt guided the Oakland As to their spectacular World Series win in 2002, just as he does in Moneyball? (The As were actually eliminated in the first round of the playoffs that year by the Minnesota Twins. Reality is such a spoilsport.)

Mere facts may prove no match for partisan passions. It hasn't been too long since I saw a letter to the editor presenting a number of left-wing talking points only thinly disguised as innocent questions asked in good faith. The question at the top of the list stuck in my mind because it's one of the more persistent smears directed against the pro-life movement, no matter how many times it's been refuted.

In this version, the myth appeared as (rhetorical) Question No. 1:

"How come pro-life folks don't care enough to adopt and/or support by taxation those children they insist be born?"

The list of questions ended with a dare: "Hard questions? Yes. Who has the guts to answer them?"

Allow me to take apart the assumptions underlying just Question No. 1. For I am allotted only so much space, not that the assertion about pro-lifers' not supporting kids after they're born is very hard to answer. Evidence to the contrary abounds. As in all the help that pro-life groups offer mothers who, despite all the pressures, decide to have their baby instead of an abortion.

There is a whole network of pro-life pregnancy centers in this country committed to supporting mothers and the infants they've chosen to bear. The three largest are Heartbeat International, CareNet and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA). Altogether, they have a total of some 2,300 affiliates serving almost 2 million American women a year. They operate some 350 residential centers for women and children across the country, 22 of them in New York City alone, helping about 2,000 women every year.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.