|Ultimate: Abortion: Articles: Violence Drives the Public Away|
VIOLENCE DRIVES THE PUBLIC AWAY
By Steven Ertelt
As most of you know several self-proclaimed anti-abortionists, have killed abortionists and abortion supporter. By examining the media coverage of the issue, it would seem that pro-life individuals didn't care about the shootings - as the media completely ignores statements and press releases from National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, National Students for Life, and other leaders in the pro-life movement.
While I could expound on the vigilantism of the shootings, I'd rather shed some light on the valuable lessons we can learn from the incidents. Ask any person on the street these days to define the typical pro-life supporter; alarmingly, many will describe some fanatical religious extremist who parades daily in front of abortion facilities thrusting pictures of dead fetuses in people's faces.
Strangely enough, the same question asked merely five years ago would most always produce a description of someone who had strong convictions about protecting life and who took non-militant actions to ensure that protection. Why does the general public now feel the pro-life movement has become a fringe element of society_ Is it the fault of the media_ Bill Clinton's election_ Or does the blame for the increasingly negative attitude regarding the pro-life movement fall within the responsibility of the very people campaigning for the right to life_
Picture the turn of the decade for a minute, if you will. President Bush is riding a popularity rating of 91%, since 1980, Congress has overwhelmingly embraced the pro-life policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations; the _Webster_ Supreme Court decision upholds protective laws; and opinion polls from nearly every media outlet in the country depict America as a strongly pro-life nation.
Yet admist these successes, a subculture in the pro-life movement began to develop. People supporting direct action, in place of education and politics, began to speak up. Organizations started forming urging their members to "show America the reality of abortion." With greater and greater occurrence, people began distributing graphic, repulsive pictures of aborted children; picketers began confronting and harassing abortionists at their homes; and, in a completely reprehensible manner, leaders of many direct action organizations called for (and are now carrying out) the killing of those who perform abortions.
Why does the public now feel the pro-life movement has become a fringe element of society_ Because the pro-life movement hasn't confronted those extremists who are hypocritically violating the pro-life ethic by harassing others and taking the lives of other human beings. Pro-life Americans need to begin the task of taking back the pro-life movement and restoring the credibility which once defined our cause.
The media will always portray sensationalism. When the pro-life movement finally disengages itself from such tactics,the media will be forced to cover the consistent, forthright activities of right-to-lifers.
As right to life supporters, we can begin the process. When you carry out pro-life activities, be responsible for your actions. People do judge the pro-life cause by how you treat others. When you attack and harass those who disagree, you don't appear as a concerned person who has a sincere desire to protect life. Be careful of what materials you distribute, what films you show, and what speakers you have.
Opinion polls reveal something I've found true time and time again. Distributing graphic materials almost always destroys any chance you may have of helping someone reexamine their stance on abortion. The pro-life ethic is positive and life-affirming; don't violate that by distributing negative materials.
Most of all, be consistent with your image. It's sad that sometimes symbolism counts more than substance; but in a world of soundbites and one-liners we must face the reality that it's often not what we say that impacts people, but the manner in which we convey our message that potentially brings about the success we hope to achieve.
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