Magazine article Insight on the News
Pro-Abortion Movement Must Count Its Losses
As the grim anniversary of Roe vs. Wade passes, it seems a good time to ask where the "abortion-rights" movement (as the press usually characterizes it) is today. The last decade of the 20th century was not kind to abortion-on-demand. The Supreme Court upheld limits on abortions in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Congress changed hands, going from majority pro-choice to majority pro-life. And, but for two presidential vetoes, a ban on partial-birth abortions would have become the law of the land.
Since Roe vs. Wade was decided in 1973, there have been more than 35 million abortions in the United States, though the rate declined 16 percent during the 1990s. The number of doctors willing to perform abortions also declined during the 1990s by 14 percent.
The response of the abortion-rights movement to all this -- and to the existence of an articulate and committed pro-life movement -- has been close to hysterical. Though there is virtually no chance that the United States will return to the legal regime in place pre-Roe (few states would reinstate the strict limits then in place), you would never be able to tell that by listening to the abortion advocates.
Shrill doesn't begin to capture it. Consider this fund-raising letter from Planned Parenthood. "For years Planned Parenthood has fought off constant attacks from the politically powerful Christian Coalition and the violently radical Operation Rescue. Now, we also battle newly formed groups with misleading names like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. All of these groups are politically astute, extremely well-funded and have a fanatical -- often militant -- approach to achieving their goals.... To some of these groups, this might mean bombing a clinic ... blockading a door ... harassing a patient ... stalking a doctor."
Notice the sly insertion of the words "some of" and "might mean." That's how they can wriggle out of a libel lawsuit. But it's libelous just the same. The overall impression left by the repetition of the names Focus on the Family and Family Research Council, or FRC, alongside descriptions of violence leaves the clear impression that the named groups go in for that stuff. …