Don’t Be Surprised that the Anti-Abortion Movement is Run By Its Fringe

If the movement fragments into oblivion, this observer won’t be upset.


By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog has an interesting post about the fragmentation of the pro-life movement. The piece focuses on Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, and his work with pro-choicers to find common ground among those who oppose the right to abortion and those who support it.

For his work on a paper with a center-left think tank to try to find ways to reduce the need for abortion, he was thusly rewarded by his pro-life advocates:

Congressman Ryan was removed from the board of Democrats for Life of America, and with it, disowned by the pro-life movement at large. Pro-life publications have taken to qualifying his pro-life status as "allegedly" pro life or referring to him as someone "who claims to be" pro-life. Because of his support of prevention in 2007-2008 congressional session, Ryan received a "0" rating from National Right to Life Committee. According to the pro-life establishment's new standards, his support for prevention means he no longer qualifies as "pro-life." And that means very few pro-life Americans will either.

It may be news to some Americans that the vast, vast majority of pro-life ACTIVISTS (as opposed to Americans) are religious zealots who, when and if they ever get done banning abortion, have already begun to set their sights on banning contraception, too. Think about it: Would you devote your whole life to this issue, or any other issue, if you had anything better to do? My point is, the extreme fringe of both parties comprises a large percentage of full-time activists on many tough issues. The same is true here:

It may come as a shock to most pro-life Americans, but there's not one pro-life group in the United States that supports contraception. Rather, many lead campaigns against contraception. As Congressman Ryan explained, "I think the pro-life groups are finding themselves further and further removed from the mainstream; they're on the fringe of this debate." Considering that the average woman spends 23 years of her life trying not to get pregnant, the anti-contraception approach depends on a scourge of sexless marriages or a lot of wishful thinking.

If the pro-life fringe fragments into oblivion, this observer won't be upset.