Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued a video statement concerning her organization's selling of aborted-baby body parts.
Pro-life people know that these body parts came from babies who were murdered by Planned Parenthood. They watch the video of one of the doctors who does this murdering, chomping on her salad and swilling down her wine as she discusses the best way to kill the child while preserving its organs for sale.
This is ghastly, grisly business. It is grotesque.
Pro-life people, who understand that this is an innocent child whose murder the doctor is discussing, almost have the oxygen sucked out of their lungs by the cavalier manner in which she describes what she does. It's as if someone had unearthed a video of Mengele at a dinner party, talking about his experiments on twins.
Pro-life people approach Cecile Richards' video in that context. They experience a gut-level flash of rage when they watch her explain that the doc was merely "insensitive" and she apologizes for this "insensitivity" while at the same time she excuses the selling of baby body parts. It's like a punch to the gut to hear her calmly admit that Planned Parenthood does sell body parts and that it will continue in this practice. Her insistence that Planned Parenthood does much good and that those who are appalled by the video are merely following the lead of an organization that wants to push women back past the 19th century layers outrage upon outrage.
Pro-life people know that what she says about their feelings toward women are not true. They know that what she is discussing is the cold-blooded murder of a child and then marketing its organs for sale. They know these things, and they go off. They can't help it.
I'm as pro-life as anybody I’ve ever met. But I wasn't always pro-life. I was once a true believer in the pro-abortion cant. I have also spent eighteen years in elective office.
There is only one way to survive eighteen years in elective office, especially when you go around switching from ardent pro-choice advocate to ardent pro-lifer, and that is to learn to control your reactions and think about your situation in a cool, survival-mode manner. I've had eighteen years—longer, if you count my years of activism—in the game of full-speed, contact politics.
My mental reflexes were sharpened on a colder whetstone than most pro-life people. I don't react to statements like the one Ms. Richards made with anger and outrage. I react like a horse changing leads. I switch, in one step, into cool analysis.
I consider who she's talking to, what she wants to accomplish with the statement, and if it will work. I also listen for the lie, because in moments of crisis in full-speed, contact politics, there usually is a lie.
Examined from that perspective, Ms. Richards issued an effective statement that will do what she wants. Let's be clear about this, pro-life people: She wasn't talking to us. In fact, she went on the attack against us, blaming us for her unfortunate situation, vis-à-vis the exposé in the video.
Blaming pro-life people in general and Christians in particular is a standard tactic of any culture of death/nihilism pusher in our society today. Abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood are particularly good at it because they pretty much invented it. We knew, back in the day when I was an abortion advocate myself, that the Catholic Church and the Moral Majority were our best points of attack.
The reasons were simple: Anti-Catholicism is an active, unspoken prejudice in much of the electorate, and the Moral Majority behaved in such a vicious and politically partisan manner that it single-handedly pushed one of the two political parties into the pro-abortion corner for us. The pro-choice people could never have accomplished the polarity of the body politic on which it has survived alone.
The Moral Majority, by it vicious partisanship and anti-Christ deification of corporatism, pretty much handed the Democratic Party over to the pro-abortion crowd, which in turn handed it over to the gay marriage crowd, the euthanasia crowd, etc. The fact that it took several decades and the aggressive leadership in that direction of a sitting Democratic president to put a lock on this travesty says quite a lot about how resistant much of the Democratic rank and file was (and is) to this.
That left the political playing field all nicely divided up into demons and saints. Whether one viewpoint or the other was viewed as a demon or they were regarded as a saint depended entirely on which side of the culture war a person decided to support.
Cecile Richards most emphatically was not speaking to "our" side of the political divide in her statement yesterday. She was speaking directly to those who regard the nefarious "religious right" and "woman hating anti-abortion zealots" as the devil. This was an easy pitch for her to make. It's so well established in this war by both sides that the other side is the devil that all she had to do was use certain code phrases to evoke the full freight load of message in her listeners on both sides of the debate.
Her statement was not designed in any way to persuade pro-life people to back down or to get them to support Planned Parenthood. It was not an attempt at conversion.
Her statement was intended to rally and hold her troops on the ground, to soothe Planned Parenthood's followers out there in the hustings who might be feeling a little shaky because of the sheer grisly disgustingness of the video in question. Her message was designed to bolster courage among her own and keep them from running scared. Planned Parenthood's operatives in the media and the blogosphere hit the ground running almost as soon as the video surfaced. They had their talking points, and they talked them, loud and clear.
Ms. Richards didn't need to make a statement to accomplish that. But she is, in a very real sense, a general in a war of ideas and attitudes. She is a leader, and, I would add a most effective one. Any leader knows that at critical points when their followers are scared and heading toward demoralization, it is incumbent on them to stand before their followers and give them a shot of courage.
Ms. Richards statement was a spine injection into her followers, both in elected office and outside of it. Most of her followers in the political arena have been attacked, slandered and defamed by pro-life people. I am aware that saying that will make some pro-life people angry with me, but I was once a pro-choice politician myself and I can tell you that it's what happens.
This has the effect of hardening these people. It closes their ears, blinkers their eyes, so that they can not and will not see the humanity of the unborn that pro-life people so desperately want them to see. Ms. Richards, with her references to their political adversaries, toughened the resolve of her followers in political office. She reminded them (as if they needed it) of who their attackers are.
Cecile Richards' statement yesterday outraged most pro-life people. But it didn't outrage me. I watched it, and thought, she's gonna win this one, just like she's won all the others.
She gave her troops what they needed to march. She already has the insidious intertwining of abortion within our institutions of research and higher learning, our K-12 education, and our body politic. It makes no difference whether the politician in question is ardently pro-life or pro-choice; they are all beholden to organizations and individuals who are aligned, however discreetly, with Planned Parenthood. These people do not have strings on our elected officials. They have chains on them.
The video in question baited Ms. Richards out, but she didn't take the bait. Her obfuscations are vague enough to hold, the reach of her organization long enough to protect. Planned Parenthood will probably be subjected to Congressional goings-on, but I predict that those goings-on will, at the end of the day, amount to pre-election-year electioneering and little else. We'll hear speeches and see various politicos, foaming at the proverbial mouth either in attack or defense of Planned Parenthood.
We'll see presidential candidates on one side proclaim that evil has triumphed and the only way to combat it is to elect them. We'll see presidential candidates on the other side proclaim that this great nation is in danger of becoming a "theocracy" and that "Roe is at stake" if they are not elected. Then, after the confetti falls and the votes are counted, the politicians will go back to transferring the wealth of this nation into the hands of the few, exporting American jobs and finding another war to fight against somebody, somewhere.
They will continue our disastrous legal immigration policies and yakkity-yak about how all the national money woes are due to Medicare and Social Security, which must, immediately, be raided. New Supreme Court justices will be nominated, and will, once they are confirmed, do the opposite of what they testified to in the Senate hearings.
Obamacare will not be repealed, the surveillance of Americans will not stop, threats to our religious liberties will not subside, social deconstruction will speed up, the working class will be pushed face-first into the mire, and Planned Parenthood will continue to pull down what must be, when grants monies and local appropriations are taken into account, upwards of a billion dollars of taxpayer money.
The Empire will survive this. The babies will not.
I'm not writing this to pull you down, although I suppose reading it might do exactly that. I am writing it to suggest that maybe pro-life people need to be a little bit more tactical in their thinking.
We've been getting our heads handed to us in the real world of grown-up politics for a very long time now. We've been out-thought and out-fought repeatedly.
Maybe it's time we tried using tactics and playing grown-up politics ourselves.
NOTE: Several readers have asked me to talk about how pro life people can be more tactical (and effective) in the political arena. I think this is a critical discussion for us to have. In fact, I write for one reason: To do my part to empower Christians to effectiveness at the intersection of public life and faith. I’ll be traveling Monday, so it will be the middle of next week before I get to it, but I’ll write more on this topic, and then follow-up with at least one more post after that. Put your thinking caps on people. We need, as Isaiah said, to reason together. It is our generation’s challenge and privilege to find ways to save lives in the name of our dear Lord. Blessings to you and yours. —Rebecca