By Dennis Howard
The next two years are critical ones for the pro-life movement if we are to successfully capture and ride the current wave of economic and social conservatism.
Such waves do not come along very often. The last one happened 30 years ago.
Nor do they always fulfill their promise. The so-called “Reagan revolution” achieved major changes in economic policy, but failed to hold the line on social issues like abortion. We can’t afford to let that happen again.
That’s why we have to sharpen our message and our strategies if we hope to achieve a pro-life America anytime soon. We need both more persuasive words and more effective action.
Our biggest test is whether we can succeed in winning the hearts and minds of the under-45 generation which has never known a time when abortion was illegal all over America.
Persuading that generation is critical because they are the generation that has been most affected by the moral and social decline of the last 50 years. Socially and economically, that decline has seriously eroded their hopes for a better future.
Yet surveys show that they are much less orthodox in their religious belief and practice than their parents and grandparents. They need to be persuaded that practices like abortion bring predictably disastrous results in this life as well as the next.
That’s why we have been spreading the word about the economic impact of abortion through the internet, social networking and talk radio. The fact is that 54 million abortions have cost us $38 trillion in lost GDP, and that number keeps growing.
Social Security and Medicare aren’t in crisis because a lot of old people showed up all of a sudden. We knew how many of them there were 60 years ago.
These programs are in crisis because the Baby Bust cut our birth rate in half, and in the process eliminated over 100 million future workers, producers, and taxpayers. That changed the whole equation on which these programs are based.
The economic cost of abortion is just the tip of the iceberg. The broader moral and social upheaval of the last 50 years has also wreaked havoc on the fundamentals of our economy.
For example, our prison population has grown nearly 10 times faster than our total population since 1958—up 745 percent compared to a 79 percent growth in population. Throwing the rules away has multiplied our social costs far beyond our ability to pay for them.
That’s a message we have to get across to our friends, the economic conservatives in the Tea Party movement. On talk radio, the internet, at rallies. If we fail, these social issues will not receive the front burner attention in the public policy debate that they deserve.
Fortunately, we have a receptive audience. Polls show that 67 percent of Tea Party members identify themselves as pro-life. That makes the Tea Party movement a great way to increase awareness of the economic impact of abortion and other social issues. Pro-lifers have to join in and make their voices heard.
That’s also why we have also started a Pro-Life Tea Party—not to compete, but to work with others in what is certainly a great new wave. If you want to help make the life issue a part of that larger discussion, join us at http://www.pro-lifeteaparty.com.
It is also essential to our success that we build greater unity and solidarity. Are we a movement or just a collection of groups? Unless we reach out to one another, we will fail. American Life League has led the way with its Associates program. But in far too many places, churches don’t reach out to pro-life groups, and some pro-life organizations act as if they are the only game in town. Such isolation divides. It doesn’t conquer.
Unless we work together, we’ll never achieve the majority we need.
Right now, a great many people seriously underestimate the strength of the block-voting minority that keeps abortion legal. If that block vote holds, it will take more than 60 percent of the rest of the vote in order to defeat it. Without unity and solidarity, that can’t be done.
We also have to keep our facts straight or risk losing credibility. Just the other day, I ran across a press release from a pro-life group claiming that 43 percent of all American women have had abortions. Exaggerations like that only help the pro-abortion side.
According to an MBA analysis, there have been 54 million abortions since 1967, and the average woman who aborts has about two abortions each. That means that 27 million women have had abortions in all that time. Meanwhile, 116.8 million women have passed through their child-bearing years between 1970 and 2010.
In short, only 23 percent of all women in their child-bearing years have had abortions. That’s a far cry from 43 percent! It also means that 77 percent—or more than 3 out of 4 American women—have never had an abortion and have no desire to have one.
In short, despite all the propaganda about “choice,” most American women are already pro-life. We just need to encourage them to speak up about it.We need to remember that the pro-abortion ideologists get to vote, too. To win this struggle for hearts and minds, we need to frame the question more positively and persuasively, target the audiences who will decide the future, and put our money where our mouth is.
If we fail to do that, America could become permanently pro-abortion.
Dennis Howard is founder and president of The Movement for a Better America, a non-profit, pro-life educational organization. This year will mark his 61st anniversary as a journalist. He began his career in October 1950 as a founding staff member of the Sun Herald of Kansas City, where he wrote a 3-times weekly column, edited and wrote national and foreign news, and—as he puts it—“learned all the mistakes anyone can make in attempting to publish a Christian daily newspaper.” That job launched Dennis on a long and interesting career in journalism and marketing. He is currently writing a book on pro-life strategies for the 21st century. He may be contacted via e-mail at
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