Last week, I jumped in on a heated Twitter debate between a conservative writer and a pro-life policy wonk. Though they both wanted to reduce or eliminate abortions in America, they were fighting over whether it was practical or even fair to charge women who get abortions with a felony. Obviously this debate was set within a hypothetical world in which abortions were already illegal, but it’s worthwhile to plan steps that need to be taken if Roe v Wade were overturned, or if some other laws at the state or national level made abortion-on-demand illegal.
Both sides made pretty epic arguments supporting their side, but both missed the bigger picture. Abortion is, at the very least, a two-front war. There are a few smaller fronts where the war can be waged, but the two primary battlefields are political/legal and cultural. Most pro-lifers fight the political battle. They may invoke faith-based arguments or post videos from the womb to pull at the heartstrings, but when they do so within the framework of the law, they’re still making a political argument.
The pro-abortion side is focusing on the cultural side of the debate… and they’re winning. It’s not because they have the better argument. It’s because the pro-lifers are neglecting this front, and the few that are actually addressing it are doing so with a generally poor strategy. Most are relying on judges and legislation as the way to stop abortions. Meanwhile, they’re losing ground on the cultural front.
How is the left so adept at fighting the culture war? Because they’re framing their arguments within a bigger picture. Their focus on the collective rights of people groups has made their willing sheep abandon what they once knew in their hearts, that killing preborn babies is fundamentally wrong.
The left’s message is that if you believe in equal rights, then you MUST believe in women’s rights. Not too long ago they called it “reproductive rights” but they abandoned that when they realized they could position abortion within the greater women’s rights narrative and get away with it. We’ve seen some pushback by prominent pro-life women, but it’s not enough. To win the cultural war against the womb will require utilizing a variation of the same tactics used by the left.
There are three fundamental truths that pro-lifers must understand if we’re going to win the culture war as it pertains to abortion.
- Statistics are counterproductive. I cringe every time I see or hear someone spouting out statistics like there are 125,000 abortions worldwide every day or that over 50,000,000 Americans have been murdered through abortion since it was made legal. It’s not that the statistics are wrong. It’s that they only have an impact on those who already oppose abortion. Those who support abortion do so knowing that many abortions happen and they don’t really care because to them, these weren’t people. Whether they think of them as fetuses or potential humans or parasites or whatever, they’re not going to be swayed by arguments that abortions are rampant.
- Science is on our side. Every week, there are new stories highlighting certain attributes of preborn babies that need to be communicated to the masses. They feel pain. They dream. They’re often viable at a much earlier stage of development than previously believed. There’s still a large portion of the population that believes a baby’s heart starts beating when they leave the womb. So much effort is made to use the science on the political side, we often forget that it works from a cultural perspective as well, perhaps more so. We need to educate the people so they understand that preborn babies aren’t just potential humans. They’re humans.
- Framing is everything. Just as the left has framed abortion as part of women’s rights, so too must pro-lifers frame the right to exist as a human right. This may seem like a political argument instead of a cultural one, and it is, but when we do so from the perspective of right versus wrong, we can allow the argument to transcend into the part of consciousness that touches on cultural ethics. But framing doesn’t just end with making it a human right to live. We have to frame abortion itself with other topics that people may find despicable. Here are three examples of talking points that frame the abortion debate in a culturally favorable way for pro-lifers that have the potential to reach those who are either pro-abortion or indifferent.
- Planned Parenthood was born from the tenets of racism and population control and continues those missions today.
- Pushing for gun control to save lives while endorsing abortion-on-demand is a contradiction.
- The elite promote abortion knowing it is far more rampant among the poor and minorities. This is no accident. It’s by design.
The war on the womb cannot be won through political means. It cannot be won through cultural shifts. It can only be won when both fronts are addressed simultaneously. Pro-abortionists are doing it. It’s time pro-lifers learn a lesson from the enemy.