Featured Rightgrrl November 1998
January 21, 1999
Sometimes I get really frustrated with discussion of the abortion issue.
Strangely enough, my problem isn't always with the abortion supporters. I've come to expect the stereotyping and false accusations they bring as part of the whole battle. It's actually a lot of fun watching the surprise some of them express when they realize that at least one right-to-life person just will not fit into their preconceived and media-influenced stereotype, and it is rewarding to find common ground on non-abortion issues and discover debate opponents who are not also going to be enemies.
I actually have more problems within the anti-abortion movements who disapprove of some trivial differences in my tactics, my political or religious beliefs, or even my lifestyle. I'm too religious or too secular. I'm too conservative or too liberal. I'm too passionate or too detached. I'm not the only one caught in this double-bind; other right-to-life people have also received the same messages. Whatever it is, the message we get from many people who oppose abortion is the same: Whatever our "allies" wish we were, it's never enough.
Notice that I said anti-abortion "movements". This may come as a surprise to the conspiracy fans and media junkies, but there is not a unified anti-abortion/pro-life movement. Pro-life people come from every political and religious background and hold widely differing beliefs on nearly every topic. I have gone so far as to create my own theory: there are three major anti-abortion movements, not one.
- The first group consists of the radicals. These are the people who support violent means to end abortion. They are by far the smallest anti-abortion group, but they get all the airplay with Brokaw and buddies. Usually they are portrayed as extremely religious, and they are usually male. They will use exclusively Scriptural arguments to defend not only their opposition to abortion, but also their support of violence.
- The second group is the mainstream evangelical Christian/conservative Catholic pro-life movement. Virtually all of the people in this group are politically conservative, and they have a female majority. They don't get much media airplay. What little they get unfairly ties them in with the radicals, although they oppose the use of violence. Most of them will support capital punishment. They use Christian, Bible-based pro-life arguments most of the time. Only a few will use secular arguments in an abortion debate.
- The third group really isn't a formal group at all. It looks like the largest pro-life division; but it gets *zero* media airplay, so we'll never know for sure. Nearly every religious and political affiliation is represented. This group will use any right-to-life argument, as long as it is valid. A large number of these people believe in the consistent-life ethic, which includes opposition to the death penalty as well as abortion. Some people who would fit in the mainstream Christian group prefer to work with people in this third division in order to learn more about society and increase their opportunities for Christian service.
None of these groups appear to be able to work together. Obviously, the violent tactics of the radicals will alienate the two peaceful factions. Many Christian pro-lifers do not accept the validity of the non-Biblical arguments of the diverse pro-lifers. A lot of the diverse pro-lifers are very uncomfortable with the political and religious emphases of the Christian pro-lifers. Divisions within each of these major groups also create further splits and conflicts.
What does this fragmenting accomplish? Apparently, it does anything but accomplish the goals which we have set for ourselves. We end up spending more time bickering over trivia and defending ourselves from our own "allies" than we do in any dialogue or service opportunities. I've dealt with conservative Catholics who won't accept gays and lesbians as "real" right-to-lifers, evangelical Christians who think feminists can't be pro-life, and consistent-life pro-lifers who do not consider political conservatives to be pro-life enough for their liking. Add to that the high morals crowd who view pro-lifers who have had abortions as suspect and the parents of aborted children who don't think everyone else is passionate enough, and it becomes a miracle that any real communication gets done at all.
Wake up, pro-lifers. While the law-abiding majority bickers over minutiae, the radicals are committing violence that we oppose and getting all of the airplay. While we gripe because someone's plans of action differ from our own, children die at the hands of abortionists using every method at their disposal. While we criticize those with levels of passion higher or lower than our own, more women sink into grief in the aftermath of abortion. We've got to stop fighting each other and do battle with the real problem that brings us together in the first place.
We need the quiet Christian neighbor with the Bible in her hand to pray for her community. We need the science genius preparing for a medical career. We need the political activists in all parties who draw attention to the welfare of the child. We need the feminists reminding others that the mother also needs help during a crisis. We need men to encourage their sons and other young men to be fathers to their children. We need willing and compassionate servants to run the Crisis Pregnancy Centers. We need the woman who has lived through the hell of post-abortion trauma to share the message of healing to others who grieve their losses. We need peaceful pro-life people in every part of society to counteract the damaging acts of the violent radicals. We need you, with whatever talents you may have, to make whatever difference you can. We need people with abilities you and I don't have to reach people that we may not even know are out there. For the cause of life, we need all the help we can get. As long as people who support life are using their talents to the best of their abilities, that's all we can ask... and we may very well find that our collective best, without interferences, is enough to make a difference.
This article copyright © 1999 by Lara Ray, and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.