If I’m on the right track, pro-life arguments are not likely to succeed by simply continuing to stress the humanity of the fetus. The opposition already knows this, as probably do most women who have an abortion. Rather, the pro-life movement must take into account the larger cultural context of the sexual revolution that invisibly but surely sustains the triumphant advocates of abortion.
It won’t be easy, but somehow the case against abortion must include a case against sexual libertinism. It is time to return to the drawing board.
I’d take slight issue with this in that I don’t know that we’ve truly convinced the larger public about the humanity of the unborn child, and as such efforts should continue on that front. But I think DSouza is on the right track.
Hargrave adds his own thoughts:
The strength of the pro-choice movement has never been derived from outright denials of the humanity of the unborn child, but from the manner in which it presents itself – as a champion of women, and particularly poor and minority women. Abortion is almost always referred to as a “woman’s issue” and all too often pro-lifers end up stuck in the rhetorical boxes created for them by their opponents. We end up somehow arguing against women. Of course much pro-life literature and propaganda focuses on the harm that abortion does to women as well as children, but all this tends to do is reinforce the notion that abortion is then, if not a “woman’s issue”, a mother’s issue.
Perhaps you can tell where I am going with this. In my view, what is often missing from the abortion debate are men. Behind every unwanted pregnancy is a man, and behind many abortions – possibly the vast majority of abortions – are the actions of men: of husbands, boyfriends, friends and fathers. Abortion is not always (and I have to imagine, hardly ever) the decision of the idealistically independent, strong-willed woman determined to do as she pleases in spite of a patriarchal society. This is a radical feminist fantasy.
Hargrave marshals the evidence that demonstrates why abortion is not just a woman’s issue. He then continues:
I don’t doubt for a moment that almost every pro-lifer understands the role that fathers play in the abortion of children. But what we need to do is incorporate it into our political program. The role of men in abortion must become more widely broadcast, it must be expanded beyond the occasional nod it gets in an obscure journal or pamphlet. When abortion is discussed on national television, in the major newspapers, on the radio, in any venue where a multitude of people will be listening or watching, the role of men must occupy a much greater place that discussion.
It must be done, first of all, because it is the truth, and as studies have shown, a truth that must not be ignored. Secondly, it must be done in order to demonstrate that to be pro-life is not to oppose women, but to oppose all who would abandon their parental responsibilities and obligations. It is high time we acknowledge the partial truth behind one of the most commonly used pro-choice slogans: “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be legal” or some variation thereof. It is only a partial truth, of course, but it does highlight a failure to hold men accountable for their own sexual promiscuity and often appalling behavior towards their pregnant wives and girlfriends.
I think Hargrave is on the right track here. It’s a fact of political life that controlling the narrative is essential to advancing one’s cause. Despite the fact that a wide majority of even pro-choicers have difficulty with the morality of abortion, the pro-choice cause has been aided by the feminist narrative that abortion is a woman’s issue, and that abortion rights somehow are essential for the cause of equal rights. And D’Souza’s argument about sexual libertinism is also correct.
There are plenty of ways those of us in the pro-life movement can make our case. Lucky for us most of the arguments favor our side of the debate. There is no harm in using every tool we have at our disposal.