Journalist Mollie Ziegler has a column in the New York Sun on the Pro-Choice Movement
How the Pro-Choice Movement Is Losing America
By MOLLIE ZIEGLER
February 1, 2006
Democrats have paid a heavy price for demanding that their elected
representatives support unrestricted access to abortion. In 1980,
Democrats dominated the House of Representatives with 292 members; 125
of them were pro-life. Now there are only 201 Democrats in the House,
and no more than 40 are pro-life. None are in leadership.
Abortion activists’ hard-line refusal to moderate has emboldened the
Democrat base but cost them widespread support. Many Americans believe
that at least some legal protections for unborn children are worthy -
a position that is anathema to the pro-choice movement. Activists
claim that 80% of the public supports legalized abortion, but their
greatest fear is that Roe v. Wade might be overturned.
Pro-choice advocates fight most of their political battles in the
courts because they worry about abortion laws being decided by the
democratic process on a state-by-state basis. And they probably have
good reason to worry. While the pro-choice base is strong, as
reflected in the million people it turned out for its 2005 March for
Women’s Lives, activists will be the first to tell you that 400
restrictions on abortion have been enacted throughout the country in
the last decade.
If the pro-choice position is as popular as pro-choice leaders claim,
how have pro-lifers racked up so many political wins?
The pro-choice movement ought to be reflecting on this state of
affairs. Instead, two new books from activists with the National
Abortion Rights Action League highlight how tone-deaf the movement has
become. They dismiss the views of religious Americans, fail to
understand the complexity of the abortion issue, and resort to
histrionic declarations of doom.
A former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Kate Michelman, gives
a personal look at the modern history of abortion rights in America in
"With Liberty and Justice for All: A Life Spent Protecting the Right
To Choose"(Hudson Street Press, 278 pages, $24.95). She begins with a
touching account of her fourth pregnancy, which occurred just before
her husband left her for another woman.
This being prior to Roe v. Wade, Ms. Michelman had to convince a
medical review board of her unfitness as a mother in order to receive
an abortion. Then she had to get permission from her philandering
husband. Ms. Michelman writes that she has "never, not once,
questioned my choice to have that abortion." The merits of such
consistency aside, the lack of rumination is carried on through the
next 200 pages of this light and unreflective memoir.
I suppose that something interesting must have happened in the
pro-choice movement over the last three decades, but if so, Ms.
Michelman keeps it secret. Instead she recounts mind-numbingly boring,
predictable, and platitudinous conversations about abortion laws and
judicial appointments with dozens of lawmakers. Ms. Michelman narrates
all stories with herself as the perfect hero, receiving praise from
all political corners.
NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s Cristina Page writes a book that fails to
even attempt to live up to its title: "How the Pro-Choice Movement
Saved America" (Basic Books, 256 pages, $24). Instead, its bizarre
thesis is that pro-life groups do not attempt to prevent abortion.
Rather, "they are against sex, and the sex lives the vast majority of
Her odd claim that pro-lifers oppose sex for pleasure would be
laughable were it not espoused with vehemence. A book that critically
responds to the political work of either side of the abortion debate
would be welcome. Instead, she puts the worst possible construction on
a few select positions, notably a view among some pro-life advocates
that contraception is to be eschewed. She also conflates pro-life
opposition to abortifacients with opposition to all contraception.
Physicians who refuse to prescribe morning-after pills are "kooky" and
"outrageous." Their "dubious religious notions" cause them to engage
in "vigilante acts of obstruction-by-pharmacist." Apparently she
believes women should not be forced to have children they accidentally
conceived, but pharmacists should be forced to act against their
Ms. Page is the Ann Coulter of the pro-choice movement. Not only are
reports that abortion causes lingering psychological damage false, but
girls who have abortions actually function better. Besides, everyone
knows that postpartum depression is a more legitimate concern for
After calling President Reagan a "fundamentalist" and making an
obligatory comparison of pro-lifers and Iranian mullahs, Ms. Page
writes that the pro-choice movement "has been the realistic movement.
And if, as a result, it has given up the high ground of deeply felt,
religious intoned ‘values,’ it has gained something else. It has
Apart from Ms. Page’s mocking of religious views and contention that
science is on her side, It seems that the pro-choice movement is the
one in thrall to ideology. The pro-life movement’s tactics of fighting
for incremental political gains in state legislatures and court
appointments is much more pragmatic than the pro-choice movement’s
rigid refusal to concede any ground against abortion on demand.
Both Ms. Michelman and Ms. Page claim in their books that the right to
abortion in some 30 states would likely be lost if Roe falls. With
yesterday’s confirmation of pro-life judge Samuel Alito to the closely
divided court, their concern may be legitimate. So why aren’t these
abortion advocates reaching out to the hearts and minds of American
voters, instead of writing books for their devoted fans?
Ms. Ziegler last wrote in these pages on Kate Bush.