The argument many so-called “pro-lifers” give for voting for a political party that advocates for abortion, specifically, the Democratic party, is that abortion is here to stay regardless of which party is voted for, there are many other issues to vote on, and that the Republicans, although and officially pro-life party, rarely do anything to stop abortion anyway.
I’d first like to briefly address the point that there are many other issues to vote on. This is true. Abortion, the silent killer of 1.2 million preborn children every year in the US, is one issue out of many. It is also the most significant moral issue of our day, as was slavery and systematic anti-Semitism in their day. I’m sure Hitler’s Germany had many economic problems, environmental concerns, and of course, foreign policy initiatives to vote on, but that still did not excuse any one from supporting him. If someone supported Adolf Hitler, even if everything on his platform except for Jew-killing was lily white, they shared the responsibility for genocide. You could not be “anti-Holocaust” but vote for Hitler because of the highways he built, or the boost that the Nazi Party gave the economy, or the fact that he was compassionate towards poor people of Aryan descent. A party dedicated to preserving the right to destroy a certain class of humans cannot be in good conscience voted for.
The second oft-repeated claim, that the Republicans will do nothing about abortion, is turning out to be thankfully false. Since the 2010 Midterm Elections, abortion advocates have been howling with rage as a barrage of pro-life legislation is being passed at every level of government. The San Jose Mercury reports:
“NEW YORK—Dozens of bills are advancing through statehouses nationwide that would put an array of new obstacles—legal, financial and psychological—in the paths of women seeking abortions.
The tactics vary: mandatory sonograms and anti-abortion counseling, sweeping limits on insurance coverage, bans on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. To abortion-rights activists, they add up to the biggest political threat since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide.
"It's just this total onslaught," said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks state legislation for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research organization that supports abortion rights.
What's different this year is not the raw number of anti-abortion bills, but the fact that many of the toughest, most substantive measures have a good chance of passage due to gains by conservative Republicans in last year's legislative and gubernatorial elections. On Tuesday, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a bill that would impose a longest-in-the-nation waiting period of three days before women could have an abortion—and also require them to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions.
"We're seeing an unprecedented level of bills that would have a serious impact on women's access to abortion services that very possibly could become law," said Rachel Sussman, senior policy analyst for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
On the other side, anti-abortion strategists such as Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee have been scrambling to keep up with legislative developments: "Until the bills get on the governors' desks, it's premature to claim victory. But it's moving faster than it has in previous years. ... We're very pleased with the progress thus far."
In a number of states, lawmakers are considering bills that would ban elective abortions after 20 or 21 weeks of pregnancy. These measures are modeled after a law approved last year in Nebraska that was based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.
The Idaho Senate approved one such bill Wednesday, sending it to the House, while a similar bill won final legislative approval in the Kansas Senate. The same type of measure is pending in Oklahoma and Alabama.
In Ohio, there's been a hearing on an even tougher measure that would outlaw abortions after the first medically detectable heartbeat—as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. At that hearing, two pregnant women underwent ultrasounds so lawmakers could see and hear the fetal hearts.
The Ohio bill and the bans on abortions after 20 weeks are direct challenges to the legal status quo, based on Supreme Court rulings that permit abortions up to the point of a fetus' viability—approximately 24 weeks—and allow states to impose restrictions for abortions after that stage.
In Texas, a bill passed by the House would require that pregnant women have an opportunity to view a sonogram image, hear the fetal heartbeat and listen to a doctor describe the fetus.
While the doctor would be obligated to provide the information, the woman could close her eyes or cover her ears, according to the bill, which doesn't exempt victims of rape or incest.
"We don't believe these bills will dissuade women who've already made their decisions," said Donna Crane of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "What we think they will do is harass and intimidate women who don't deserve it."
Balch disagreed, insisting that the South Dakota bill and the sonogram measures in several states were not coercive.
"When a woman is pregnant and doesn't want to be, the more information she has, the better," Balch said. "That's what these laws are trying to do—give a thoughtful pause so the mother can understand the options that are out there."
In more than 20 states, bills have been introduced to restrict insurance coverage of abortion. In Utah, one such measures—affecting both private and public plans—has cleared both legislative chambers and been sent to Gov. Gary Herbert.
Of the various types of bills, the insurance bans could have the broadest impact, according to some abortion-rights activists.
"You could have nearly half the states where you couldn't buy regular insurance coverage for abortion even with your own money," Crane said. "This is having a transformational effect on the insurance industry and the way abortion is viewed."
While routine first-trimester abortions generally cost $400 to $700, later and more complicated abortions can run into the thousands of dollars, especially if hospitalization is needed.
"A lot of these bills have an edge to them that really discounts the complications that can occur in pregnancy," said Planned Parenthood's Sussman. "There's a disregard for women's health."
Florida is a prime battleground. With a new Republican governor, Rick Scott, who touts his anti-abortion beliefs, conservative lawmakers have introduced at least 18 bills on the topic—including proposals to require ultrasound and to ban most insurance coverage of abortion.
"That could result in tens of thousands of women losing coverage," said Stephanie Kunkel, executive director of the Florida Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
A different tactic is being tried in Virginia, where lawmakers last month passed a bill requiring abortion clinics to be regulated on the same basis as hospitals. Abortion-rights group said this could entail higher costs and force several clinics to close.
Many of the states where anti-abortion bills are advancing have new Republican governors who made campaign pledges to support such efforts.
For example, Brownback urged Kansas legislators to create a "culture of life" and is considered likely to sign the pending bill that would tighten restrictions on abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy.
The sponsor of the Idaho bill to impose a similar ban after 20 weeks, Sen. Chuck Winder, summoned out-of-state medical and legal experts to tell colleagues that a fetus at that point will suffer pain during an abortion. It's a disputed assertion; the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it knows of no legitimate evidence showing a fetus can ever experience pain.
Thus far, the year-old Nebraska law banning most abortions after 20 weeks has not been challenged in court. That has emboldening abortion foes to promote versions of it in other states this year even though the nationwide norm is to allow elective abortions up to roughly 24 weeks.”
Abortion advocates are terrified: always a good sign. Jill Stanek, a pro-life activist and blogger, also reports on this phenomenon:
“Even I am shocked by the advances pro-lifers have been making on the legislative front since January. It has been amazing. I can’t keep up with the volume of innovative bills wending their way through the system.
But I’ve been a little surprised by the other side’s somewhat muted response to our onslaught. I’m used to pro-aborts running around like their collective hair is on fire even when things are going their way. I would think they’d be calling Code Red right about now. Rather, they’ve been subdued lately.
I’ve wondered, do they not notice what’s going on, the massive pro-life turn of events? Are they in denial? Or are they not wanting to give us the satisfaction of admitting they have a real crisis on their hands?
Oh sure, the fundraising emails always make it appear so. But what about the pro-aborts on the street, the writers, the bloggers? Why haven’t they hit the panic button on their keyboards about our energy and new found sense of unstoppability?
Dont’ get me wrong. I expect and have seen some of our attempts indeed stopped.
But there is something new in the air, an attitudinal shift. Something has changed. Throughout the years abortion proponents have enjoyed the upper hand, generally speaking. But it appears that, for this moment in time at least, we pro-lifers are enjoying a major bull run. Were I in pro-abort shoes, I’d be freaking out, depressed, demoralized.
Today, finally, someone on their side addressed the funk. But Kaitlyn at theAbortion Gang blog called it “complacency.” Would that this were true. I wish. It would be great to think the other side is simply oblivious to our major advances. But I suspect what we’re really seeing is a “deer in the headlights” reaction. They’re overwhelmed.
Whatever, here’s Kaitlyn’s assessment of the situation, bold highlights hers. I’m omitting the ad hominem attacks…
For weeks there was a virtual onslaught of antichoice activity related to or coming directly out of every major social and cultural institution in the United States, reinforced by similar activities worldwide. Policy was being pushed through the state and federal level to put the rights of fetuses over the rights of women, to criminalize abortion in every way legally possible….
Institutionalized racism was playing an insidious role, calling the decisions of black and African American women to have abortions a “genocide” and also managing, somehow, to compare these choices to the historical horrors of slavery.
On top of these full frontal assaults, the anti-choice movement was also insidiously chipping away at the foundations of the women’s health movement….
These have not been the best of times.
Yet, for the last two weeks or so, I would put the number of terrifying stories and developments regarding women’s health and choice in this country at about average, which is to say, “quite a few, but not so many that it feels like an hourly onslaught from which we may never recover.” And that quiet is dangerous….
I’m calling this our Western Front. This is not the time for complacency – this is the time to evaluate the situation, assess our needs, re-group, and make decisions about how to move forward. I admit to taking a week off myself. I was exhausted and burned out, and the thought of staying angry seemed like it might require too much energy. But I slept in for a few days, had some coffee, and got back up to lace up my combat boots. I ask you to do the same. Because I assure you, the anti-choice movement, despite its protestations, is every bit as prepared and well-funded as we are, and in some cases, better prepared and better funded, and their roots in the religious structure of this nation go too deep to be untangled. In other words, whatever fights they lost this round, they will be back to fight again.
Of course we never have been and never will be as well-funded as pro-aborts are, they having abortion profits to spend.”
Pro-lifers are having unprecedented legislative success in the United States because Republicans were elected to office, and because the dedication of American pro-lifers is slowly shifting the culture from attitudinal opposition to abortion to active opposition. While the Republicans do not always do everything they should, as apologist Greg Koukl says, 'if you have a choice between voting for a first-rate arsonist or a second rate fireman, you vote for the fireman.'
*UPDATE: An article released by FOX News a short time ago: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/25/states-looking-change-definition-late-term-abortion/?test=latestnews
Check out Students for Life of America's new video, "The Tide is Turning":