Cover Story

Back to basics

"Back to basics" Continued...

Issue: "Back to basics," Nov. 28, 1992

Lee takes issue with the notion that pro-abortion forces are needed to help provide compassionate alternatives to abortion, which he sys pro-lifers have been doing very effectively for many years without the help of the abortion industry.

Although the political climate favors "choice," Lee says most Americans think abortion is a nasty business. He credits the pro-life movement wit successfully stigmatizing abortion and abortionists.

But the common ground approach, Lee believes, "Helps them with their goal: achieving legitimacy in society."

In 1978, when he was new to the pro-life movement, Lee broke bread with an abortionist and her lawyer (who 11 years later would make oral arguments to the Supreme Court in the Webster case) in an attempt to "understand" their side of the issue.

A year later, Lee attended the Washington "common ground" meeting. Lee believed at the time it was possible to work together to reduce the abortion demand; he resented the pro-lifers who crashed the meeting.

"At the time I was furious," Lee recalls. "As I look back, though, I think [what they did] was the right thing to do."

In Maryland, Frederica Mathewes-Green reflected on the failure of a $2.5 million pro-life attempt to win a referendum on repeal of that state's pro-abortion law. Mrs. Mathewes-Green, who was communications Director of the Vote kNOw Coalition, said, "That's a lot of money to lose, but perhaps the defeat was a blessing in disguise. Perhaps we'll be able to let go of our search for earthly power."

She added, "Perhaps we have been putting too much faith in working to elect legislators to pass laws that would compel people to agree with us. Under that strategy we were slowly losing ground. Now we are realizing the need to put first things first and help people to come to agree with us, before we can pass and sustain pro-life laws."

How to do that? The task is difficult, according to Mrs. Mathewes-Green, because the pro-life message "runs directly counter to the overwhelming spirit of our age, which is 'have it your way.' We were able to make people feel guilty, conflicted, but we were never able to convince them to do the right thing."

Since pro-lifers were "reminding our pleasure-loving, pain-avoiding culture of some unpleasant truths," it was easy for pro-abortionists to plant a "kill the messenger spirit."

In the Maryland referendum debate, according to Mrs. Mathewes-Green, "we said 'it's a bad law' and they got up and said, 'Yes, but those pro-life people are bad people.' It was like being on an eighth-grade playground, and we were the nerds."

Mrs. Mathewes-Green also pointed out that "trying to convince people the unborn child is a baby misses the mark, because people generally know that, but they don't think there's any alternative to abortion. The question they're asking is, how can we function as a society without abortion, and that's the question we have to answer."

She concluded, "If we play the same game they do we'll never win, because they can always out bid us. Our only hope is to put our hands and feet on the side of compassion and begin to live it. That sounds like an old answer and it is-some 2,000 years old-but it's the only answer."


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