The Majority of Pro-lifers are Misrepresented

Somewhere in the murky forests of healthcare reform there exists a
little cottage of reason. Or at least there used to. I’m not sure if
it’s still there. The cottage was at some point boarded up by
extremists, the entire forest became overwhelmed by weeds and rabid
creatures, nobody goes there anymore.

This past week I learned of a divide between my generation and the
older generations while I was on vacation with my family. My
grandparents come from a time when the news media could be trusted to
provide timely, reliable, factual information. I, however, come from a
time when the news media can be relied on to broadcast whatever will
get the viewer to stop channel surfing long enough to make it through a
few rounds of Viagra commercials. It can’t be trusted. Turning on
multiple 24 hour news networks, I saw little more than a constant
misrepresentation of public opinion and a severe lack of substance. If
I were to take what I saw seriously, as my grandparents do, I would be
under the impression that almost everybody in this country opposes
health care reform and it’s being forced upon us against our will. With
constant barrage of clips showing people lining the streets shouting at
each other, people disrupting town halls convened to discuss solutions,
cartoonishly angry
questioners, men showing up with guns for no reason other than to
intimidate, and the endless negativity, it’s hard to
imagine that most people actually do support health care reform.

The problem with all of this is when extremists hijack the
discussion by yelling, screaming, and flat-out lying how are the rest
of us supposed respond? Stooping to the same level of discourse only
helps perpetuate the chaos and confusion extremists want. But the focus being placed on the tiny minority
opinion has blown the entire dialogue into funhouse-mirror proportions.
It has created this illusion that health care reform is about to
destroy all of our lives. And this exact same phenomenon
has taken place within the pro-life community.

A comment following Cristina Page’s recent article
focusing on the splintering taking place in the pro-life community over contraception
struck me. In reference to the small percentage of anti-contraception
pro-lifers [forming only 20% of all pro-lifers], a reader going by
Crowepps noted, "20% of the Prolife movement is representative of only
2% of the general population. It’s absolutely stunning that media
reports of the public policy arguments seem to highlight the views of
that 20% while ignoring the 80% majority."

And Crowepps is right. At a time when common ground is not
only vital, but finally a part of the conversation, the
pro-life faction hold all the levers of power in the pro-life movement
and is attempting
to steer any discussion of common sense prevention into an iceberg. In
my previous
post about a bill on prevention, I mentioned the overwhelmingly
positive response I received from
many pro-life people who all thought it was important to take
precautions that would decrease the number of abortions. I still hear
similar sentiments often. These are the kind of people who
represent the 80% of the pro-life movement and with this solution, they’re on our side. This demographic is key in moving the common ground agenda forward.  But first, we
need to make some critical connections. We need to reach out to those whom we know
support pregnancy prevention because we can’t enact change without
them. But before we can count on their support, it is they who need support. An organization for pro-lifers who support prevention and contraception needs to be
formed because, as it
currently stands, no pro-life organization does. That means the supermajority of pro-life people are not being accurately represented. This is how
the extremists become free to use these so-called supporters in
their statistics and skew the image of what pro-life truly is. There are
members on both sides of the
abortion issue who want to fix the problem. They do exist. WE exist.
We are not enemies. We are comrades in the
fight to take back that little cottage of reason. We just need to get
together, get mobilized, and get loud.

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  • paul-bradford



    Thank you for writing an insightful and hopeful commentary (and for giving crowepps props for the contribution she makes to the RHReality Check discourse).  The Pro-Lifers who make the most noise aren’t the ones who are saving lives.  As a matter of fact, I think they contribute to the abortion problem.


    To really be Pro-Life is to want to prevent unintended pregnancy.  Unintended pregnancy, when it ends in abortion, is a terrible thing; but even when it ends in birth it presents more than its share of problems.  Pro-Lifers need to join with those on the Choice side in demonstrating an understanding and an empathy for a woman’s concern about unintended pregnancy.  It’s a far different thing to say, "Your problem deserves a satisfactory solution.  Let’s keep looking for a solution that’s better than one that ends human life." than it is to say, "Your problem is no concern of mine and, anyway, it’s your own fault."


    Respecting life isn’t solely the concern of the mothers of the unborn.  A respect for life ought to begin BEFORE conception.  This means that men need to take an equal share of responsibility for preventing unwanted pregnancy and for being supportive in the event that an unintended pregnancy should come about.  The more a couple respects life, the less likely they are to find themselves in a position where abortion is even a consideration.


    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • marysia

    Prolifers who support contraception are starting to get organized.

    Nonviolent Choice Directory,

  • kate-ranieri


    Is is true that Rep. Tim Ryan was just ousted from the advosory board of Democrats for Life. The reason? Because he dares to insist that contraception is necessary to reducing abortion.

    If so, how is your organization any different from the more extreme prolifers?

  • paul-bradford

    Hello Kate,


    I’m well aware of the shabby treatment Rep. Ryan has received at the hands of the Pro-Life community.  I’m treated shabbily by most of them myself.


    The purpose of PLCC is not to win points with the existing powers within the Pro-Life movement.  We are of the opinion that the effort to criminalize abortion does nothing to save the lives of the unborn and, instead, has hardened resistance against genuine care for the very young.  My own ‘take’ on the situation is that, eventually, other Pro-Lifers will realize that they’ve been banging their heads against a locked door and will be open to ideas that will actually save lives and improve conditions for children and for their mothers.


    Building a ‘Culture of Life’ isn’t simple.  It’s complex.  First you need to build a culture of caring — and you can’t persuade women care about their young while you’re threatening to take control over their bodies. 


    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice