Media

How Journalists Should Cover the Pro-Life and Other Social Movements

Pro-life activists outside the Supreme Court in Washington June 26, 2014. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
A response to Isaac Schorr

Those of us who work in the pro-life movement face the unhappy reality of needing to achieve real gains as a social-justice movement while rarely being given the benefit of the doubt about our sacrificial love for the preborn and their mothers. I’m practically envious of the respect offered to others who work on issues that motivate them and who are presumed to genuinely care about the things they work on daily. But I’m not new to this fight, in which we respond to millions of lives lost because of a legal sleight of hand that occurred in Roe v. Wade.

In 1973, seven Supreme Court justices acted like toddlers whose eyes were covered by their hands and asked, “Where did the baby go? I can’t see it!” But then after the baby is born, the judges pulled back their hands and reacted in their ruling with great surprise: “There it is!” As a woman who has had four children, I can say with great certainty, it was obvious before birth that a child was coming.

But imagine my surprise for being called out by National Review’s journalism fellow Isaac Schorr, in a piece titled “How Pro-Lifers Should See Political Power,” for a tweet that recommended, within the limits of Twitter, that defunding Planned Parenthood was a smart move for President Trump, given not only its horrific business model, which operates with taxpayer support, but also its aggressive political engagement. In addition, my willingness to judge potential candidates on their abortion positions and my concerns about Planned Parenthood’s deadly business were disparaged as making “both politically damaging and morally corrupting” arguments. For all that I’m said to “not only recognize the value of political power but worship it.”

Where to begin. Let’s start with worshiping, something that I reserve for God alone, enough said. But on the accusation that I prioritize abortion as a voting issue, I answer guilty as charged, 100 percent. What was offensive was the writer’s assertion that such a priority is poorly made or that a single tweet “does nothing to persuade anyone to join the pro-life cause.”

Yes, Isaac, you’re right. One tweet won’t cut it, which is why I have spent the last 15 years working 80 hours a week to build programs that support pregnant and parenting students; that recruit, educate, and activate the pro-life generation; and that oppose an industry that profits from killing the preborn and abandoning the women who were deceived by the sales pitch that abortion is a quick fix without deadly implications. It’s why I started a 501c4 organization, Students for Life Action, that has worked for pro-life candidates of both parties and even worked, damn effectively I might add, against Republicans in contested primaries who failed to defend a culture of life.

A vote for life used to be a bipartisan event, but it isn’t as much anymore. That is hardly the fault of the pro-life movement, ready, willing, and able to work with all who want to defend the innocent.

Close to 62 million people have died in the womb since Roe v. Wade, and, while that might not motivate Schorr’s life work, it certainly motivates mine. Importantly, as Ben Carson noted this week during the Republican convention, black Americans have paid a disproportionately high price.

“What is racist is the fact that African Americans have the highest abortion rate,” Carson said. And that is why Students for Life joined with Human Coalition Action, the Frederick Douglass Foundation, and black community leaders for our Black Preborn Lives Matter campaign.

The goal of the pro-life movement is not to occupy the White House, it’s to create a culture of life. To that end, there are many different paths, politics among them, to be explored. Schorr’s concerns that the pro-life movement has been caught up with wielding power seems misplaced given the David-vs.-Goliath reality of the fight.

While much of the political class, judiciary, Hollywood, and university and business structures are allied with the abortion industry, pro-life advocates often stand alone, praying outside abortion-vendor locations, running pregnancy medical centers, and volunteering in their communities, far from the halls of power. Ours is the power of a helping hand and a loving embrace.

Looking at our cities burning,where violent protesters take out their rage against others whom they do not value, I would argue that an abortion mentality has poisoned our culture. If one life means nothing, why not another? Will other people be found inconvenient or objectionable and deserving of death by people armed with their distain? Who else is in the way of what we think we want? We are losing a national consensus on a timeless principle: “Thou shalt not kill.”

When journalists cover social movements, they should start with the assumption that people have not devoted their lives to a cause just for a photo op or as fodder for a single tweet.

In the article in question, Schorr reports on arguments, which he finds compelling, for why pro-life voters should not prioritize abortion. Respectfully, I disagree. There is no better way to evaluate a candidate’s compassion and conviction to help the least among us than by asking how he or she will protect the preborn and their mothers. That’s why I vote Pro-Life First.

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