"Eyewitnesses" Continued...

Issue: "Pro-baby," Jan. 30, 2010

Chuck Donovan is a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a pro-life veteran since the 1970s when the movement began. He says the movement has changed since the 1970s, when pro-lifers expected to overturn Roe v. Wade by the end of the decade: "Now here we are, 37 years later." Donovan says the 1970s were all about asserting rights, but people have found that it leaves Americans bereft of community: "It just ends up in a multiplication of demands that people make on each other without acknowledging the responsibilities they have to each other. . . . The more they insist only on a rights universe, the more they get isolated from one another. The human desire for community is stronger than the human desire to be a hermit."

While there's still desire for legal change, Donovan sees more Americans-like Kan-realizing that even without changing the law they can help reduce the number of abortions: "People are finding they can make a difference close to home. They can act locally and eventually produce a global change at some point by showing that abortion has not lived up to any of its billings as the best resolution to an unexpected pregnancy."

This generation has seen abortion's disappointments firsthand, Donovan notes. Women who have undergone abortion offer "subterranean testimony," and other women listen: "They know stories, they know friends. They know how people's lives have been affected. They know this promise of liberation hasn't happened."

Angel B. Lee, 27, has seen the change in her own time at Midtown Pregnancy Support Center, where she counsels alongside Kan. Lee works for a fragrance and beauty company and describes herself as a "corporate monkey"-a stylishly dressed one in boots and an airy scarf. She describes herself as pro-choice and says she believes in "a woman's right to choose" but thinks it's a wrong choice. She says the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" are hard for her and seems torn between the two: "I think it's one thing to tell someone what's the right and the wrong thing to do, but you just can't tell somebody else what to do. You give people guidelines and hope they make the right decision."

Working at a pregnancy center has deepened her conviction that abortion is a wrong choice. When she led a post-abortion support group, the pain she saw deepened her conviction that abortion goes against the "natural order." She has also seen women make the choice to keep their babies, and she's seen that it can work even in situations that seem impossible. She may not want a crack addict with other children and no husband to have another child-but she asks, who is she to say that the child shouldn't live?

Despite the talk of young evangelicals becoming more liberal, pro-life convictions have stayed strong. According to the Pew Research Center, although young white evangelicals are on average 14 points less conservative than older evangelicals, they are more pro-life than their older counterparts. Some 70 percent of white young evangelicals favor making it more difficult for women to get abortions, compared with 55 percent of older white evangelicals.

Those views are reflected in other volunteers at Midtown. Two others in the center were working with Kan one Saturday. Danny Garcia, 28, had just moved to New York from Gainesville, Fla., and had immediately looked for a place to volunteer. Garcia says that abortion is the only reason he didn't vote for Barack Obama.

The other volunteer, Emily Schendel, 27, was entering data into a computer-her way of helping out since she doesn't see counseling as her strength. Schendel says she's more liberal than the folks back home in south Georgia but less liberal than her peers in New York-so in New York she considers herself con­servative. Unlike Kan, Garcia and Schendel have always considered themselves pro-life, but those pro-life views have stayed conservative as their other views have shifted toward the middle or left.

The stories have shifted the debate and so has ultrasound technology, said Donovan. Seeing the forming body and then the chopped limbs of an aborted baby made Kan realize, "This is a human life." Pro-lifers have learned the power of an image. According to Option Ultrasound, when pro-life centers combine counseling with ultrasound, it produces nearly 60 percent more decisions against abortion than counseling produces alone. Senior, the pro-abortion reporter, agrees that technology is on the pro-life side: This generation "was the first to grow up with pictures of sonograms on their refrigerators."


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