National Catholic Register


Pro-Life Strategy

BY Tom Hoopes

| Posted 12/13/08 at 11:51 AM


In a column in the New York Times, Ross Douthat noted that, as usual after a GOP presidential defeat, pro-abortion Republicans blamed pro-lifers.

“For pro-lifers, these refrains are as frustrating as they are familiar,” wrote Douthat, listing: “Their movement should focus on changing hearts and minds, rather than the law. It should be more consistently pro-life, by helping human beings outside the womb as well as those within it. It should cease trying to roll back the sexual revolution and standing athwart science yelling ‘stop! And above all, it should be less absolutist, and more amenable to compromise.”

Douthat doesn’t reject the whole litany: “Pro-lifers have already taken much of it to heart. Compromise, rather than absolutism, has been the watchword of anti-abortion efforts for some time now. Since the early 1990s, advocates have focused on pushing largely modest state-level restrictions, from parental notification laws to waiting periods to bans on what we see as the grisliest forms of abortion.”

We would argue that bans on partial-birth abortion and the like aren’t “compromises” but first steps.

Four steps, to be precise. At the time of the Supreme Court’s ban, we recommended these steps.

1. Quote the court’s description of the partial-birth abortion procedure.
2. Name the defenders of partial-birth abortion. Tie them to it.
3. Remind others why partial-birth abortion should be illegal.
4. Ban more procedures, immediately.

But Douthat seems to agree that compromise isn’t possible when you’re talking about the fundamental human right to life: “[A]y real compromise will always depend on overturning Roe. Giving up on this goal would mean giving up the movement’s very purpose, while gaining nothing in return.”

— Tom Hoopes