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Why Haven't We Succeeded in Ending Abortion

It has been 40 years since Roe v. Wade and we are still fighting for protection for preborn human beings. I have been reticent up until now to state my beliefs for why we have not been successful. This is because, when I originally created this site, I stated that I was going to do a research project to answer that very question, and did not want to pre-prejudice the results. I intended to enter that project with an open, unbiased mind and see where it would lead me. I have, however, been woefully unsuccessful in accomplishing that goal. Now my focus is on the Human Rights for All Ages Campaign, and I doubt that I will be getting back to the research project anytime soon. So, even though I have little actual evidence to back up my views expressed here, I wish to take the time now to state why I feel we have not been successful, in hopes that it will help us to be successful and end abortion soon. (And yes, we can!)

There are a number of reasons why we have not been successful in ending abortion. I believe if we can grasp hold of these principles and change the dynamics of the movement according to what I assert here, we can, and we will, end abortion in short order. Perhaps I should start out, though, with what I believe is not the reason why we have not ended abortion. I suspect that there are many who will try to claim that the pro-abortion forces have been so influential, well-financed, and clever that we stand little chance. They will claim that the opposition has framed its arguments so well that they make it difficult for us to counter their lies. Basically, they will claim that it is the opposition that stops us -- that it is the efforts of the pro-abortionists that stymie us. With this I do not agree.

Yes, the pro-abortion forces have been influential. Yes, they have been well-financed, as represented by the government's support of the biggest killer of all, Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the pro-abortionists are clever, although I am not sure that I buy that one. I suppose they are clever to the extent that they are masters of propaganda and framing the issue in ways that suit them. However, these are not the reasons that we have not been successful. It is not to the credit of the pro-abortionists that they have stopped us in our tracks, rather it is our own fault. And the sooner we take responsibility for that fault, the sooner we will have success.

Do you think that the pro-abortionists have argued with such skill and alacrity as to convince the public that abortion is fine and wonderful? The fact is, the pro-abortionists have no argument at all. For years I have tried to engage people who promoted abortion in discussions to find out why it is that they believe the way they believe (first of all trying to find out just what it is that they do believe). I have had little success. When I try to ask a pro-abortionist why he or she thinks that abortion is okay, he or she effectively "screams and runs the other way". Is it because I am fierce and threatening? Is it because they recognize that my intellect is so overwhelming that they could not possibly challenge me? Is it, conversely, because they think that I'm too ignorant to be able to carry on a conversation with them? No. It is not for any of these things. It is basically for one reason -- they have no argument! The only thing pro-abortionists have are fancy catchphrases such as "women's rights", "choice", "keep your laws out of my uterus", "If you're against abortion, don't have one", and other cutesy phrases that sound nice but are basically empty and meaningless. Actual arguments that present real facts to back up substantive ideas? No way! They don't have them. They know they don't have them. They know that if they are engaged in any sort of substantive discussion they will fall flat on their faces. If we only stand up and confront them squarely with the facts, they have nowhere they can hide. Yes, the pro-abortionists are influential, effective propagandists. But it is only because we allow them to be so.

Having clarified what is not the reason that we haven't succeeded, I believe there are six principal reasons why we have not been successful. The first one that I will mention is that we don't work together very well. We will not end abortion unless we join together and work together in a unified fashion. My own recent example of this is my efforts to start the Human Rights for All Ages Campaign. I'm not particularly surprised when I contact pro-abortion organizations and find it difficult to get them to respond. What concerns me more is the lack of response from those organizations that claim that they care about the fate of the preborn. Here at this website I have a directory of over 200 anti-abortion organizations. I contacted all of them regarding the campaign, some of them many times over. After doing this for perhaps a month I had received responses from less than one quarter of them (probably more like one eighth), and enthusiastic responses from very few. (My great thanks and appreciation for those few that did respond in a positive and enthusiastic manner.) Just to name one, the most well-known of all, at the time of this writing, it has been about a month and a half and I have yet to receive a call back or an e-mail back from National Right to Life or, in my numerous calls to them, get through to whoever the person is who would be the most appropriate person to talk to about the campaign. In another example, I did manage to get through and talk to the person who is the head of the organization. He had his own campaign going and was quite enthusiastic in telling me about it -- much less enthusiastic in hearing about mine. After going back and forth a few times, and I having signed and sent in a statement in support of his effort (in spite of the fact that I was hurriedly trying to throw together a major campaign with not nearly enough time to do so), he said that he couldn't take time out from his own campaign to help out with mine. Of course, there will always be those who honestly feel that they are too busy to help out with someone else's efforts, and it is normal and understandable that someone will be much more interested in his or her own efforts than someone else's. I am sure that I will not always be able to join in and support everyone else's efforts who might ask me to do so, but I am afraid that this example may be illustrative of a general tendency. If everyone is involved in his or her own effort, and does not work together with others, we will not be successful. At the least we need to communicate with each other. I have also been told about squabbles and power struggles among those in charge of anti-abortion organizations. I have not been involved at that level, and cannot testify as to the validity of such claims, but I would hope that people in this movement can set aside their personal differences and attitudes, communicate with each other, and work together harmoniously for the good of those being killed.

The second reason I believe that we have not been effective is that we mix in other issues with the issue of abortion. I am thinking of one website that I visit at times that not only talks about saving the preborn, but also takes a stand against gay rights. The site has a broader agenda than just abortion, so in that sense perhaps it "fits" to do this, but it hurts the cause of the preborn. First of all, it alienates every gay or lesbian person or sympathizer, such as those in the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. Secondly, it makes us look like bigots (which those who look down upon gays or lesbians indeed are). Thirdly, it is not even a "life issue". No one gets killed by having gay relations (although, we have heard of those such as Matthew Shepard who have been killed by the bigots who hate them). By linking abortion with matters that do not inolve life and death, we distract people from the horror of abortion, bring it down to the level of merely something that some people find disturbing, and draw attention away from the fact that it involves brutally killing human beings. And fourthly, gays and lesbians will never, ever have abortions (at least not if they are strictly gay or lesbian). Never! It makes us look like fools and hypocrites when we argue that we oppose abortion, and then look down on those people who never have abortions. The next time you see a gay or lesbian person, rush up and give him or her a great big hug, and thank him or her for not being a part of the problem!

As another example, I arrived one day to protest in front of the local Planned Parenthood clinic and a man was standing there holding a sign with a message against the use of contraception. Aside from the irony, which will surely pass through bystanders' minds, of someone who is against abortion opposing the means of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, that message would only serve to alienate virtually every person who enters a Planned Parenthood clinic, since providing birth control is an even more basic service that they provide than abortion. We may have varying opinions on the subject of contraception, and I do not wish to belittle anyone's values or views on this subject, but if we want people to listen to us about the subject of abortion, it does not help us to bring this issue into the debate. If we want people to understand that abortion kills innocent people, then we need to spread the message that abortion kills innocent people, and not intersperse other messages that will only serve to alienate our audience.

Of course it might make sense to bring in other issues if we wish to call ourselves "pro-life", because that label necessarily indicates that we take a position on a variety of "life issues". This, however, is one of the reasons why I discourage the use of the term "pro-life". There is an advantage to combining abortion with other "life issues", at least there is if those other issues serve to back up and support the idea that we truly care about life. For instance, opposition to war or support of universal healthcare (although not, of course, a program that would include killing preborn humans) would send the message that we really care about whether people live or die. However, I think the disadvantages of doing so outweigh the advantages. When we try to maintain that we are "pro-life", that is, that we broadly and universally support "life" issues, it only serves to invite our opponents to point out that "those people are not truly 'pro-life' becauseÖ [whatever issue they choose to bring up]". I believe it is better to stick to a single issue, although there may be specific instances where it makes sense to combine with others who are truly working for peace, justice or human rights.

I have not yet mentioned the biggest "issue" that I believe is typically a problem among those who oppose abortion -- religion. Although perhaps not truly an "issue", it nevertheless falls under the same dynamics. I have written a more extensive explanation, so here I will just briefly reiterate the same problem that I have already mentioned above: When we mix religion with opposition to abortion, we only serve to alienate those people who do not follow our own religion (and perhaps even many of them who do). It will certainly tend to alienate people like myself, who do not follow any religious beliefs. Many who read this can only imagine the "agony" I go through when I stand on a sidewalk holding a sign pointing out that we are killing innocent human beings, and to have somebody next to me hold a sign saying "Jesus Saves", quoting a Bible passage, or containing some other obnoxious religious statement or insignia that insults my intelligence (and, yes, that is the way I feel) and makes me want to run away screaming. If it affects me, who is dedicated to the cause of the preborn, to the point that I can barely stand to remain there, what effect does it have on those who are passing by who need to hear the message that we are bringing forth? Abortion is not a religious issue. If we try to make it so, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, because we know, as everyone in our (U.S.) society knows, that freedom of religion, which of course means freedom from being forced to observe someone else's religion, is a fundamental principle of our society, and if any particular position in regard to abortion is a religious position, we absolutely cannot tolerate passing a law imposing that religious position upon others. Of all the "issues" that we need to keep out of the abortion debate, religion is the one that we absolutely have to dispense with.

I'll also take a moment to mention another thing which is not exactly an "issue", but falls in the same general category nevertheless. And that is the concept that opposition to abortion is a "conservative" position. Nothing is farther from the truth! I oppose abortion, and if you call me a conservative you had better be ready to defend yourself! There are few insults that I would find worse than that one! People who oppose abortion, who by-and-large tend to be on the more conservative end of the scale, frequently will talk about "those liberals" who support abortion. I DO NOT support abortion! So quit implying that I do! It is liberals who think that the government should take care of people and make sure no one "falls through the cracks", right? It is conservatives who think that the government should get out of the way and let them get on with getting ahead in their lives, right? So is abortion a liberal or conservative issue? The point is that, in reality, abortion is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue. Some might say that being pro-abortion is liberal, because such a stand promotes "liberty" for those who are pregnant to do as they wish, or that being nonrestrictive is to be "liberal". However, if that were the case then liberals would adamantly oppose virtually all environmental laws, since they restrict what people or companies are allowed to do. So, although in one sense of the word being pro-abortion is taking a "liberal" (i.e. nonrestrictive) position on this issue, being politically "liberal" in no way indicates that one supports abortion. Being politically liberal or conservative is simply irrelevant as to whether one believes it is okay to kill little human beings, just as being religious or not is irrelevant as to whether it is okay to kill little human beings, just as being gay or lesbian is irrelevant as to whether it is okay to kill little human beings.

Which leads me to the last point I wish to make regarding the second reason that we have not ended abortion. Abortion is not a religious issue, it is not a "social" issue, it is not a liberal/conservative issue, it is an issue of life or death -- that is, it is, purely and simply, a human rights issue -- the most basic of all human rights, the right to life. Hence the Human Rights for All Ages Campaign. If we want to end abortion we have to describe it in terms of an affront to basic human rights, and leave the other issues aside.

The third reason we have not been effective is to carry the second reason one step further -- even when we are dealing with abortion we are not really dealing with the main issue. We have to stop abortion! Not just reign it in and tidy it up! When Roe v. Wade was passed we reacted in horror and tried to do what we could to stop it. Within weeks a Human Life Ammendment was proposed to turn things around. Abortion was a horror that needed to be ended.

Today we focus on parental notification, regulating clinics, and informed consent. We are "picking at the edges" of the issue, when we need to charge at it dead center! There are some who say that by regulating abortion we condone it, and I tend to agree with them. We should not be regulating abortion. We need to be shouting loud and long that abortion is a human rights atrocity that we simply will not put up with!

The fourth reason that I feel we have not been effective is the structure that we operate in. When anti-abortion activism first started it was, at least to some degree, a "grass-roots" effort. Even though it was the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that really stood out and carried the issue, there was, nevertheless, a lot of activity among the people, at the grassroots level. "Not so much" today. I was not involved in the movement during the early days after Roe v. Wade, and I have had a hard time putting together an accurate and representative history of the abortion struggle (another project that I was undertaking), so I am certainly no expert, and people may feel free to correct me on this (or any other point here), but in the early days of the movement I believe it was it was farmers and housewives and factory workers and school teachers and "little" people from all walks of life who got this movement going. At some point, perhaps around the 1990s, people's enthusiasm waned. Abortion activism became something that took place in "top-down" organizations. It was the people who work in the offices who did the work. Now the members send in their checks to support the organization, occasionally read the newsletters to keep up with what was going on, and even less often write a letter to someone. This is not a grass-roots movement. It is understandable that after years of struggle people's enthusiasm might wane and people become complacent about the horror that is going on around them. But if we're going to win this war, as we must, we cannot become complacent. We cannot sit back and expect the people at the top to go out and win the battle for us. It will never happen. They cannot do it. Only we can do it. The people at the top can provide the assistance that we need to do the job, but it is the people out on the streets and in the factories who need to do it. Otherwise, it will not get done.

The fifth reason that I believe we have not been successful is that we attempt to be "positive". I am listing this at number five, just before the last and biggest one, because I think that this might be the next to the biggest reason we haven't succeeded, and goes along with the sixth reason. I just added this one to the list here at the beginning of 2014, after receiving a response from one of the organizations listed in the Antiabortion Directory at this site, indicating that she felt I should refer to the directory as a Pro-Life Directory instead. She said this is because "pro-life" is more positive than "anti-abortion", which it is -- and that is the problem! It seems that people everywhere who oppose abortion wish to be called "pro-life" rather than "anti-abortion". Furthermore, they generally want to address the public in positive terms: "Love life!", "Choose life!", "Life is a wonderful thing", and other "positive" sounding phrases. What I can't understand is why everyone wishes to be so positive about something that is so horrible. How are we going to convince people that we are brutally murdering thousands of innocent people every day if we have a smile on our faces and are telling people to "love life"? My God! We are killing people, my friends. We are brutally ripping to pieces the bodies of innocent little human beings who have never done anything wrong. We rip of their arms! We rip of their legs! We crush their skulls! We suck out their brains! We subject them to grueling suffering and death by burning them with saline solutions. There is nothing positive about abortion! How can we be happy and smiling and easy-going with people if this is really happening? We can't!

If you can stand by and smile and be pleasing and nice while people are being brutally killed right in your own society, right in your own community, then something is desperately wrong with you! Have you no compassion? Have you no empathy for those being butchered? Every time you smile at somebody and gently and tell them to "love life" you are effectively telling them, "There is nothing terribly wrong. Nothing to get upset about. See, I'm not upset, am I?" And they will believe you! It has been said that 95% of communication is body language. You cannot stand and say "Abortion kills babies" with a smile on your face and expect that people are going to believe your words and not your actions and your manner. Instead of smily sweetly and softly saying "Love life", we need to be yelling in horror "Stop the killing!" If you really believe that little babies are being hauled into killing facilities every day and being brutally massacred, you will not be happy -- you will be angry! You will be horror-stricken! You will be rip-roaring angry and will yell and scream and howl and shriek and demand forcefully and in no uncertain terms that it end! And this will lead you to reason number six.

The sixth reason that I feel we have not been effective, and this is the biggest, is very closely related to the fifth. For years I was concerned with the problem of religion in the movement. Perhaps this was because I felt like an outsider -- a "nonbeliever" trying to work with people who made their religious faith an intrinsic part of the work that we were trying to do. As stated above, I still believe this is a very serious problem, but not the most serious. The most serious problem is -- Apathy.

I'm sorry to have to say that. I imagine that it will offend some people who come here to read this. It is not my intent to offend; it is only my intent to motivate. And I do not wish to indicate my superiority over anyone else. I am greatly ashamed of what little I've done over the last 25-or-so years since I began to get involved with this issue. Of course, I can blame it on being an "outsider" -- if I want an excuse. But excuses won't get me or anybody else to where we need to go. There is one thing, more than anything else, that will get us to where we want to go -- rolling up our sleeves and getting serious about the fact that little children are being killed around us every single day.

Do you believe that abortion is killing innocent little children? If you are at this website, you will probably answer "yes" to that question. The next question, then, is, do you believe that you are acting like abortion is killing innocent little children? If your neighbor next door started butchering his three, four, and five-year-old children would you send some money to an organization, read a newsletter, and a write a letter to your legislator about the problem? Well, every day little human beings are being ripped to pieces and killed who are every bit as human, alive, and valuable as your neighbor's three-, four-, and five-year-old children.

I hate to have to admit this, but I think the best thing I have read on this was an article actually written by a pro-abortion advocate! As is typical, the writer is not accurate in his presentation of various details, and chooses to discredit the people on the other side of the issue, rather than arguing the issue itself. Nevertheless, he states what I am sure goes through at least the subconscious of many people. He states that "there is little evidence" that we believe what we claim because we "simply don't act like [we] believe it." "How many anti-choice activists call abortion murder, but when confronted with the issue are willing to actually treat abortion as murder?" he asks. He points out, for instance, how "peaceful" our protests are. "Why are anti-choice activists so peaceful if they believe that babies are being murdered inside? If adult or infant members of a minority were being taken into[sic] be killed, protests would not be so peaceful. Opponents would takes[sic] all kinds of risks in order to protect the innocent victims." He concludes that it is difficult to believe that we are "taking abortion seriously as a moral issue", pointing to "those who use dramatic, over-the-top rhetoric when their actions demonstrate that they don't believe what they are saying." "If they don't believe what they say," he asks, "how can anyone else?"

This is also closely related to the third reason. My impression is that during the 1970s and 1980s there was a lot activism, with people raising their voices loud and long, showing graphic pictures depicting the reality of abortion, standing up to clinics and even the police, willing to go to jail for their beliefs, and just basically making "nuisances" of themselves, much the same as the civil rights activists of the 1960s. Now we sit back and let our "leaders" do the work from their offices and in the legislative halls. That enthusiasm, that burning passion that drove many activists to be willing to go to jail, I am afraid, has to a large degree been lost. We need to get it back. And, once again, I say that shamefully, as someone who has never seen the inside of a jail cell. Granted, harsh laws have been passed that make it difficult for those who oppose abortion to stand up and vigorously do something about it, and I am not saying that we should all become outlaws in our zeal, but we cannot lose the passion and drive that led the early movement.

I have seen a bumper sticker: "Well-behaved women rarely make history." Well I say, "Well-behaved activists rarely make history". We are too polite. Too timid. Too afraid of upsetting people. Too afraid that someone will bill us as "troublemakers". Nothing is gained by being quiet and "proper". It took a war to end slavery. It took a war to end the Nazi Holocaust. I hope it doesn't take a war to end abortion, but it won't be done by sitting at home, sending out an occasional check, reading the latest issue of National Right to Life News, and maybe once or twice a year writing a letter to the editor or to a congressperson.

ADDENDUM (9/28/15):

Today I am adding a couple of comments to the above essay. First, in an extension and further clarification of the sixth point above, I have created a new website, Are You Horrified?, to bring more weight to this point, and have also included at this website the speech that I wrote for the recent ProtestPP event, which also gives more insight into this.

The second thing I wish to do is to add a seventh point. The sixth point above is still the most important one, and the one that we really need to grasp hold of and do something about, but this seventh point is of importance, also. I recently typed "Why havenít we ended abortion" into Google. I was somewhat proud, but at the same time discouraged, when I found two pages at this website at the very top of the list. When I scrolled down through and checked out other web pages that came up on the list, though, there really werenít any other pages that even asked this question!

This is amazing to me! We have been fighting this thing for over 40 years, and no one is bothering to ask why we havenít been successful in ending the killing. This fact in itself I believe tells us something about why we havenít. We keep charging along (those few who can be said to be "charging") the same lines and never stop to evaluate or question what it is that we are doing. If we are going to be successful we need to be open-minded and willing to look critically at what we are doing and be willing to recognize where we have gone wrong and make the changes necessary that will bring success. If we just keep blindly pushing forward doing the same things that have not worked, they will continue to not work. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." (Attributed to various sources, including Anthony Robbins, Mark Twain, and Henry Ford.)

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