On Monday, anti-abortion marchers congregated in Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life, protesting the anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Such action is part of a well-organized and persuasive campaign by pro-life groups around the country – and as a result, on college campuses – at influencing public opinion. And so long as the pro-choice movement fails to adopt a compassionate and compelling public relations effort of its own, the pro-life movement has a high likelihood of succeeding.
Signs visible at last year’s March for Women’s Lives exemplify why pro-choice forces are beginning to lose the battle for public opinion. Signs saying “keep abortion legal” debase the moral arguments pro-choice advocates used in the 1970s. Instead of advocating the act of abortion, advocates must reclaim the principled defense of women’s rights it championed in the past.
Few rational human beings openly advocate the act of terminating a fetus. Where pro-life advocates have succeeded most substantially lies in their ability to dehumanize any woman who partakes in the procedure. What pro-life ideologues conveniently forget, and pro-choice activists fail to reinforce, is that having an abortion is not an easy choice for a woman to make and that it is covered under her right to privacy.
Anyone who knows a woman who has had an abortion knows that it is an agonizing decision. No woman walks gleefully into the doctor’s office to have an abortion. Many develop post-abortion depression and are afflicted by the decision for the rest of their lives. Publicizing this struggle will help ensure the public understands that abortion is not a form of birth control, but rather a difficult, life-altering decision. Emphasizing the implication of revoking a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body will also prove instrumental in their effort.
Once again, reflexive and absolutist leaders are turning a sympathetic public against a completely justifiable liberal cause. Unless the movement changes its course, it is possible a woman will no longer have her right to choose in the near future.