I recently attended a Sen. John Marty town hall meeting of which at least half of the participants were passionately pro-life. It was a snapshot experience with pro-life advocates. Discussion following the meeting revealed some solutions that pro-life advocates could be setting in motion to reduce the number of abortions.
News flash. The lower the number of unwanted pregnancies equal a lower number of women who will seek an abortion. So, if pro-life advocates really do want to reduce the number of abortions, they should focus their efforts on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Abortion only becomes a divisive issue after a live sperm and a fertile egg come together in the same place. So, if pro-life advocates want to reduce the number of abortions, (something that pro-choice advocates want to do too), pro-life advocates should be actively advocating for the use of birth control methods that prevent a live sperm and a fertile egg from ever coming together in the same place: birth control methods like condoms, tubal ligation and vasectomy. Both sides of the abortion question have a vested interest in working together to do this, even if pro-choice advocates would take it one step further and advocate for other forms of birth control that pro-life advocates deem to be egregious.
When I brought this concept up at the town hall meeting, it was met with silence, except for one lone voice.
“That won’t work because condoms are only 85% effective,” someone said.
The actual number is more like 98% if condoms are used properly, but let’s go with the 85% number. To make a theoretical point (without playing whack-a-mole with all the statistical possibilities), which is better; 10,000 women with unwanted pregnancies who are tempted to get an abortion because no form of birth control was used at all or 8,500 women who didn’t get pregnant at all because a condom was used? Eighty-five hundred unwanted pregnancies that didn’t happen is a win for everyone, right?
In the public interest, for the public good, take the win. Take any win no matter how small it is. The little things add up. If your shoes or boots weigh one pound and you have a 30-inch stride, in one mile you will have lifted 2,112 pounds. In six miles you will have lifted 12,672 pounds. That’s more than the curb weight of two pick-up trucks. That’s how the differences between the pro-life advocates and the pro-choice advocates can be resolved. One step in the right direction at a time.
Years ago a “friend” repeatedly sent me political email messages that were full of manipulative lies. I would fact check them, and then I would notify her that the emails she was spreading around were not true. Eventually I asked her why she kept on doing this. She replied that while the email messages she was spreading around “might not be true,” she felt justified in sending them around to people anyway, because they were consistent with what she believed.
It would seem that lying to people on behalf of the Lord makes about as much sense as loving people for the benefit the devil. But religious motivations aside, lying to people and otherwise deceiving them is a poor strategy for gaining their trust. As are attempts to hard sell manipulate them into buying lies, using the same tactics that were used by used car salesmen in the 1960s.
If pro-life advocates want to be seen by pro-choice advocates as having credibility and credible ideas that are worthy of consideration; if they want to win the public over to their point of view, just having values, beliefs and a game plan to manipulate people into believing that they are right, isn’t good enough. Pro-life advocates need a new direction, and a new solid platform of sensible and believable talking points.
The pro-life movement has a vocal, prickly, assertive, angry and off-putting surface to it. It is essentially trying to draw people in by pushing them away. But at the core of the pro-life movement are people who share something in common with the people at the core of the pro-choice movement. Sincere, passionate, good intent. It is through this door of good intent that reason for hope exists. That the conflict between these two groups can find a peaceful resolution.
John Mattsen is a retired federal law enforcement officer with a degree in secondary education specializing in the social sciences, and a minor in psychology. His position on the complex issue of abortion is still evolving.