Shake, Rattle and Roll Over the Senate
By Bonnie Chernin Rogoff
Founder, Jews For Life
September 10, 2001
A potpourri of pro-life news is happening around the nation this week. It's a mixed bag, so take your pick:
THE GOOD: A new national campaign is underway to encourage Senators to take a pro-life approach to the Supreme Court, should there be a retirement. The campaign is dubbed "Shake the Nation Back to Life." Two dozen national pro-life organizations have joined hands in an effort to persuade the Senators to reject abortion and support Court nominees who value unborn life. A promotional gimmick, in which a baby rattle was mailed to each Senator, included the following life-affirming message:
"Dear Senator, Please vote to confirm pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, and do everything within your power to protect children from all the brutal methods of abortion."
No offense intended to my pro-life friends, but the Senators are already aware of the brutal methods of abortion. Considering the current pro-abortion contingent, the tactics, while meaningful to most people, may backfire. Let's face it, Senator Hillary and her friends Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer are not what I'd call baby friendly. A pro-life memo that includes reminders of what abortion really is and does can easily shake, rattle and enrage pro-abortion extremists who think a woman's right to kill is absolute.
In addition, pro-life television commercials will be shown throughout the Washington D.C. area. The visuals will depict happy images of babies playing, holding pro-life placards and rattles, juxtaposed with images representing pro-abortion laws, activism and its deadly consequences. The idea is to present the truth, in a compelling way and with a positive statement, that abortion is bad and kills babies. This is a great idea, but people already know abortion is bad and kills babies. Yes, the message can be powerful, and may influence some viewers to think about abortion. Will the new crusade change peoples' minds on the issue? I doubt it.
As a pro-lifer, I have found that presenting the truth, however tragic, even to the extent of revealing the number of women harmed by legal abortion, as well as images of partial birth abortion, has not changed the hearts or minds of intransigent abortion supporters. Many of those die-hards are the ones in powerful places, passing anti-life legislation in our Senate. How do we appeal to them?
Words are powerful among those with brains to think and hearts to feel, and powerless among those who are stubborn. People have to come around on their own. Somehow, I can't picture Hillary Clinton opening the envelope with a rattle in it, shaking it, and hearing anything but the voices of her NARAL and NOW friends in the distance.
THE BAD: Pro-life senior Republican Senator Phil Gramm is retiring. Now, two prominent pro-lifers have announced their retirement plans in the past month. This is very bad news. Senator Gramm has been a reliable and outspoken supporter of all pro-life legislation, and combined with the loss of Senator Helms, we can be in big trouble after the midterm elections. Republican leaders like to point out that Texas has become a GOP stronghold, especially considering President Bush's popularity there. How many senior Senators can we afford to lose? As it stands now, we no longer have control of important committees, and that's what will determine the future of the Supreme Court. Even if another Republican is elected to fill Senator Gramm's seat, that does not guarantee loyalty to a strong pro-life position. Some pro-life Republicans have shown dual loyalties by coming out in favor of embryonic stem cell research, which brings me to my next point:
THE UGLY: Senator Ted Kennedy wants to challenge President Bush's decision to limit embryonic stem cell research to existing lines. We pro-lifers knew this would happen. The fact that there is more promise with adult stem cells in medical research doesn't faze Kennedy. That's because the drive behind embryonic research has nothing to do with medicine, and everything to do with increasing abortions, and gaining public support for convenience killing under the pretext of "curing disease."
In my previous column, entitled "President Bush's Split Cell Decision," I expressed strong reservations about expanding the role of government funding toward any research, precisely for this reason. In that piece, I said:
"Now the question becomes, when will federal funding be expanded? When will sixty become six hundred? Bush's motives were noble, his solution reasoned, and he prayed his decision was the right one. However, I dread the prospect of even limited funding. Soon, the creation of embryos for their destruction will be accepted practice, followed later by experimentation that will trump faith, limitations and moral reason."
I must revise my statement. President Bush's decision was a bad one. It won't end at sixty stem cells. We're facing a midterm election with too many Senate seats to defend. We're seeing the loss of two influential pro-life Republican leaders. We watched a fake Republican change sides (Jeffords), and we can't be certain there won't be more defections. Our hold on issues within the Senate looks grim.
The only thing conservatives can be certain of is that pro-abortion extremists like Senator Kennedy won't retire anytime soon. I'll end this column with a prayer, that the Shake the Nation campaign will change minds, hearts, and ultimately, save unborn babies' lives. If we could not change Senate votes by exposing the graphic horror of partial birth abortion, what is left? The answer is, we need a Senate composed of dedicated pro-lifers, period. In lieu of that, it'll take a lot more than baby rattles in mailboxes to shake things up and roll over the majority in our favor.
Copyright 2001 by Bonnie Chernin Rogoff. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.