As Men Fumble Message, Pro-Life Cause Gains Ground

Many pro-life politicians have been communicating to women that they don't understand the concerns of women

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Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks at the National Right to Life Convention at the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport Hotel in Grapevine, Texas, on June 27, 2013.
Stewart F. House / Getty Images

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks at the National Right to Life Convention at the Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport hotel in Grapevine, Texas, on June 27, 2013

Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry chose to talk about the teenage pregnancy of one of his political foes. “It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example,” he said about Wendy Davis, the Democratic Texas state senator who had filibustered a bill that would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks of gestation. Immediately, the pro-choice community reacted with outrage, casting it as yet another attack in the so-called Republican War on Women.

“Rick Perry’s remarks are incredibly condescending and insulting to women,” said Cecile Richards, head of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. But pro-choice advocates weren’t the only ones flinching at Perry’s comments. “I always think that talking about motivation and unrelated personal history is a mistake,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that gave about $250,000 to pro-life candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

The issue for Dannenfelser has little to do with Perry himself. She is, in fact, a huge fan and praised his decision last week to call another special session that is likely to result in new regulations for abortion providers and a ban on most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. For Dannenfelser and other pro-life strategists, the mistake was giving pro-choice advocates another chance to define the debate over abortion as an attack on women. “The No. 1 issue is staying in the defensive and letting the other side define you,” Dannenfelser said.

And Perry’s decision to make a personal attack was just the latest in a long stream of statements by prominent Republican men that have been messaging gifts for Democrats. The most prominent, of course, was the falsehood uttered by former Missouri candidate Todd Akin about a woman’s ability to shut down reproduction in the event of “legitimate rape.” It was followed by Richard Mourdock, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, who said that even in the “horrible situation of rape,” a pregnancy was something that “God intended to happen.” Such comments did not end with the election season. Just a few weeks ago, a similar wave of outrage greeted comments by Representative Trent Franks of Arizona, after he claimed that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”

Each of these statements has provided messaging challenges for pro-life advocates, who have otherwise been enjoying enormous success nationwide. Since 2010, a dozen states have passed legislation similar to the bill being considered in Texas, which imposes new regulatory burdens on abortion providers and places new limits on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Recent national polling by Gallup has also shown a recent drop in self-identified pro-choice voters, from 49% in 2011 to 41% in 2012.

The problem for the cause, says Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, is that many pro-life politicians have been communicating to women that they don’t understand the concerns of women. “Women don’t just look at politicians and say, ‘Do I like you?’ but [also] ‘Do you get me?’” said Conway. “There is tremendous opportunity for the pro-life community to get out of the fetal position.”

At a House Republican retreat in January, she advised the party to stop attacking messengers of the pro-choice cause and stick to the issue of restrictions to late-term abortions, which polls show tend to garner broad support. “Rape,” she told the retreat, “is a four-letter word, and therefore purge it from your lexicon.”

Part of the problem, Conway says, is that much of the messaging is being done by men in the party, without much thought about how women will respond. “What you end up seeing with Akin and Franks and Rick Perry, part of it is, Who did you talk to this week?” she said, noting that many politicians lack female consultants and advisers.

But on a national level, the pro-life movement has been trying to fix the problem, taking a page from the pro-choice handbook, by making women the point people for delivering their message. Despite the attention garnered by Franks, the recent House bill to limit late-term abortions was managed by Republican Representatives Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

On Monday, in Texas, state senator Donna Campbell kicked off the next round of the state’s abortion debate with a press conference that featured nearly a dozen women who had abortions and later regretted their decision. “You cannot inflict pain and suffering on the child without inflicting pain and suffering on the mother,” one of the women explained.

It was a clear indication that pro-life activists will not allow the next round of debate to turn out like the last round, which ended with a dramatic standoff between state senator Davis, Governor Perry and Lieut. Governor David Dewhurst. At candidate trainings for pro-life politicians, Dannenfelser has also been telling politicians to avoid mistakes that distract from the central message. “We say address the issue that you are being confronted with that cuts against you 80%. Then make sure every time you are addressing the overall position,” she said, noting polls that suggest rape exceptions to abortion bans are popular. “I have yet to find a pro-rape candidate, or a pro-I-don’t-care-about-women candidate.”

82 comments
fewwords
fewwords

can someone please help me see what is wrong with this logic: the abortion debate is about whether the fetus is a person or not. If the fetus is a person there is no excuse for abortion, if it is not a person - no excuse needed. So, the question becomes - is a human (a fetus is human) a person if there is no self-awareness (I think most people would agree that a fetus is not self aware)? My current understanding would cause me to say YES to that question. Here is why:


Would it be considered ethical to remove an injured human that is in a vegitative state from life support if a doctor was 100% certain that person/human would become conscious again in 9 months?(forget that no doctor could predict that). I don't think anyone would do that if the potential for life was so certain. Don't you dare mention the sperm argument. It is foolish. a sperm will not become human without intervention. A fetus will. What do I not understand that pro-choice people seem to understand. Please don't automatically dismiss me as some anti woman - woman hater. This is an honest question, please tell me what you think. 

skulander1
skulander1

No, antichoice factions are not gaining ground.


What is gaining ground is misogyny, sexism, anti-woman and pro-rape candidates (of which there are a-plenty).

Don't fool yourself. So-called "prolife" folks don't care about life and seem utterly oblivious to the fact that their policies kill women worldwide. But who cares right? As long as zygotes are "protected"... Real women? They don't cound.

peaceloveunity
peaceloveunity

BTW, it's easy to use the demeaning phrase "so-called War on Women" when you are a man. 20 week abortion bans might sound logical to people who know nothing about the issue. But these bans do not account for threats to the mother's health or fetal anomalies. Either people who support this kind of ban are ignorant or want babies with severe deformities to be born who might only live a short time in extreme pain. Only about 1% of abortions are done after 20 weeks and many have to be performed because of these issues.

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

True MURICANs are pro-life and always will be. If these darn 13 year old girls want an abortion they shouldn't have gotten raped! MURICA!!! If you are pro-choice you are automatically gay and in al Qaeda!!!

kenspicer111
kenspicer111

Abortions for some!  Tiny American flags for others.

windbourne
windbourne

The anti-choice group is NOT gaining ground. What is gaining ground, is common sense. 

Look, the reason why pro-choice wants this to go all the way out, is that they fear that by allowing it to run back to say 20 weeks, will allow it to ultimately be denied. However, many ppl such as myself, are in favor of cutting it back to something sensible  Note that with 20 weeks, it still gives time for genetic testing and the traditional first trimester. I can not see any reason for allowing later term unless the mother's life is in trouble. 

courtnicole
courtnicole

Somebody should get them a binder full of women to fix their PR problem.

FoundStar
FoundStar

What a complete Friggin idiot..Perry, like all his Repugnant friends, are so full of cow manure they stink up the State of Texass and the USA. The absolute Gall of these men riding dominion over women is unconstitutional at the least...demonic at best. Who the 'F' died and made them God??? Lets have their daughters raped and impregnated and then demand they have no choice. They pontificate the Bible as their guide...yet the seperation of Church and State is clearly drawn and a law..seems they break any and all laws that favor them politically. These people defy our Laws and impose their stupidity and religion on us?? don't think so 'Paco'...GFY.

Jeca
Jeca

I am so against men making laws about women's bodies.  What is going to be next?  The total ban of birth control?  When and where to have sex?  Ban women from working?  Why don't you Republicans deal with the real issues in the USA instead of this crap.  And why do they want more babies being born?  To populate their armies, to work in factories for next to nothing.  Do they want us to become Afghanistan?  Because the Republicans are sure looking like the American Taliban to me.

n7specops
n7specops

In some cultural moral ethics classes and such I took while majoring in sociology, we always got and still get into these controversial topics. Many assumptions led to conclusions that its not all completely about the concern of human life, but the right for a woman to be able to choose what to do with her body and not have something in her body that she doesn't want in it or did not intend to have there (whether from irresponsibility or rape) I'm not gonna assume I'm right or wrong, but am I at least on the same page as most who are talking about this on here? Like, you know, many people consider abortion murder and such, and in my early days of becoming aware of topics regarding moral dilemmas I didn't argue about that, but rather voiced my opinion that I thought that it isn't a person until it has cognition, therefore it isn't murder, but I also had to keep in mind that many people will argue it is a person because it has a soul. People got mad, and I'm not gonna sit here and pretend to know everything or that I speak for anyone but myself. I just hope this stuff gets settled in a way that doesn't go in favor of single minded religious people or people just wanting to control women. Quite frankly, this world is a "post-sex-is-strictly-for-procreation-world."



US1776
US1776

This is a joke, right?

Pro-Birth  / Pro-OverPopulation has been losing ground steadily.

Their message is one of massive govt intrusion into the private lives of citizens.

And its a message that is being soundly rejected.

.

ancientWisdom3
ancientWisdom3

I can believe  hat some, perhaps even many Pro-lifers  are motivated by a genuine concern for human life, but I also believe that many really just don't want any woman to be sexually active without  having to pay a price--if not pregnancy, then a criminal conviction.  Many male Republicans seem to be outraged that a woman can control her own reproductive and sexual life, to the extent of one Republican legislature urging that even if a pregnancy results from rape, the woman should not be able to get an abortion without the father's consent. The reality is that there is a rape culture in America, and it's mostly on the far right.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

You think that the plan of bringing out right wing women to introduce bills will make it all good with women? How well did that idea work when they brought in Sarah Palin? These women are not fooling anyone. As carotexas points out below - one of them didn't even understand what a rape kit is and how it works. 

jmac
jmac

"Pro-life cause gains ground."  Really?   Tell it to the 4,000 or so who protested yesterday in Austin against Perry's abortion bill.  (about 100 pro-Perry).  The war on women, especially poor women has to stop.   Example of signs:  

"Keep your rosaries off my Ovaries."

"Pro-life is pro-hanger"

"If Only My Uterus cold Shoot Bullets, then it Wouldn't Need Regulation"

epenguin
epenguin

Mr Perry should not have an abortion if he dosent like them  but he should mind his own business when it comes to others bodies.

fitty_three
fitty_three

I see Micheal,

So you're saying men = GOP?

Hell no!

ClarenceDavis
ClarenceDavis

sic sic sic ... Earth to copy desk. Richard Mourdock is the nutjob who ran for the U.S. Senate in Indiana. Not Missouri.

riccismiles
riccismiles

I wish some eccentric multi-millionaire would offer some type of cash reward for ANY WOMAN who has had an abortion due to a pregnancy caused by one of these GOP/Conservative politicians. They are out there and we need to hear from them so that the hypocrisy can be tasted.

roknsteve
roknsteve

You gotta love the Rick Perry GOP in Texas.  One foot in 500 B.C. and the other foot in 2013.  And no respect for women.

Sahara22
Sahara22

@fewwords There are a few gaps in your logic, although I understand what you were trying to convey. I would say that the debate is not about whether someone is a person, but rather when does life begin. This is at the heart of the issue. You equivalate the fetus to being human from the jump and that in itself is where we begin the flare of disagreement. Potential life and life are two different things. Potential being the key word. Your premise is, “If the fetus is a person there is no excuse for abortion." And this logic is flawed because your assuming we don’t know that the fetus is a human. What else would it be? An alien? Where we differ is that I see it as not yet existing at which point to me it is potential life. A potential human. So to say that there is no excuse I would counter, of course there is or then we wouldn’t even be talking about this in the first place. As for your support argument, right off the bat you are dealing in absolutes. There is no 100 % guarantee in life. But I’ll play along. Let’s say I was in a car accident and had a traumatic brain injury and was only able to breathe through a machine. 9 months later I am able to open my eyes, I gain consciousness. What level of function am I gaining? Some injuries have permanent repercussions and consciousness is only one half of the battle. Sure my eyes are open but I’m no longer there. Not the real me. But some brain damaged version that is so far gone that I would most likely have to stay on machines for the rest of my life. What kind of life would that be? Each case if different so I do not deal in absolutes, but in this case the answer to your question yes, it is ethical to end my life in this circumstance, because without machines there would be no life in the first place. The same with abortion, Roe v .Wade, a fetus is considered viable if it is able to exist outside the mother. Cognitive functioning is not a component in this, the ability to physically live is.You ask “is a person a human if they have no self-awareness” and let me ask you. If I took a six week old fetus out of me and gave it to you, would it survive? And if it can’t is it alive? The answer is no. You say you “don’t think anyone would do that if the potential for life was so certain.” And I counter, why do you think women get abortions in the first place? If they waited they would most certainly end up giving birth (medical complications, extenuating circumstances aside) at which point your argument is not really about abortion but rather about the mentality that goes behind making the decision to have one. And that’s okay. Because it is your right. But let me just say to go from a state of awareness to vegetative (this person has already been given birth to so it is in fact living) vs. a fetus (that is in the process of development and not yet existing) are in two totally different leagues. Similar in what you are trying to prove but the premise behind it is flawed because you are defining life before it is yet living. Sure in nine months it might come to fruition, but until then it is only potential. But if I continue down this line of logic let’s say nine months the family of the vegetative person walks into the hospital room and no longer recognize their child? Their quality of life is poor and make the gut wrenching decision to take their child off of life support? Would you fault the mother? Would you refute her love for her child? These horrific types of decisions have to be made every day and in numerous circumstances. Because like I said earlier there is no 100% guarantees on outcome, all we are left with is hard decisions. Doing what we believe is the right choice for ourselves and our families. Something that is a very personal decision, one that should not be made for you. Because each case is different, circumstances are different. Some vegetative people make it through to live a full and productive life, and some women make the decision to carry their pregnancies until they are fully developed and give birth. But the vegetative person is not in the same category as a fetus. You can have all the machines in the world and it would not mimic the womb of a mother. Which is why we have options on what is going on inside our bodies and what comes out of it, because until that moment everything we are discussing is potential. But I must say It’s a good conversation to have and I hope I answered your question. Take care.


MuricanBob
MuricanBob

If you don't like Texas or MURICA go back to Iraq you fruitcake!!! This is MURICA! Also don't talk about my gardener paco, unless you're telling him to go back to El Salvador to sell drugs!!!! MURICA!

SteveMartell
SteveMartell

@AndrewHyattMassetIII So I guess you stand for abortion at any time of the pregnancy and no standards or oversight for abortion clinics? and please point out where in the U.S, Constitution the phrase "separation of church and state" can be found.

Whatanotion
Whatanotion

@AndrewHyattMassetIII    They already rape their daughters Andrew.  And force them to have babies.  Didja notice Texas is home to Poligamy Compounds?  And It's not "Stupidity and Religion".  It's just Stupid Religion.  Which the fundamentalist interpreters of foreign language cling to as justification for whatever they need to protect some vested interest.   They're running out of legatees and that's the whole problem.  They don't care that they have sucked virtually all reason to live for everyone else.  As long as, they've got theirs, they are happy.  

MuricanBob
MuricanBob

No no, women will always have a place to work, IT'S CALLED THEIR KITCHEN!!! This is MURICA!!!!! Deal with it you liberal fktard!

windbourne
windbourne

@Jeca , while I share your disdain for what the neo-cons are NOT doing (like focusing on our nation), I will say that I support putting limits on Abortion. The fact is, that after a fetus is capable of living outside of the womb, it makes sense to say that the woman has had long enough to make that choice. 

roknsteve
roknsteve

@Jeca Bingo!  You win the prize.  They want an army of poor to work for slave wages.

LifeIsPrecious
LifeIsPrecious

@Jeca When do you suppose it is alright for a mother to kill her baby? If a baby has brain waves and a beating heart is not it alive? That is the standard we use at other points in life. If you hand a replica of a 20 week fetus to a two year old, even he/she knows its a baby.

point2
point2

@Jeca No, it's just about human rights, and how to balance the rights of humans of all ages.

jmac
jmac

@n7specops A fertilized egg has a soul?  Then what do you need a God for?   Just maybe there is a God and you have to earn that soul.  Just maybe.  In the meantime,  religious people need to make sure they don't have an abortion and leave the rest of us to our religious beliefs.  

fitty_three
fitty_three

@Ivy_B  

They do it with black Americans, <snark>and successfully too</snark>, so why not?

roknsteve
roknsteve

@jmac And women are not going to forget this in 2014.  Thanks for getting out the vote Gee-O-Pee.

DebraFaber
DebraFaber

@riccismiles Well, there is always Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee.  Doctor in Tennessee, turned House Rep.  Had affairs with two different patients.  He was recorded asking his mistress to get an abortion and it came out in divorce proceedings that he had asked his wife to get an abortion as well.  Multiple affairs, multiple abortions, violations of the doctor/patient relationship - and the conservative crazies STILL re-elected the pinhead.  I guess we all need to understand that conservatives don't care about abortion or family values unless the perpetrator is a liberal.

point2
point2

@roknsteve Respect for human life is not what I normally associate with 500 B.C.

anon76
anon76

@roknsteve 

I thought you were going with "One foot in 500 B.C., the other foot in his mouth."  Give Anne Richards some love!

DebraFaber
DebraFaber

I stand for termination of a pregnancy any time that a woman and her doctor agree that it is the best course of action.  I don't see anywhere above the phrase "I stand for abortion at any time of the pregnancy and no standards or oversight for abortion clinics."  Yet it seems that you inferred it, though it does seem a very significant stretch.

I, and a good number of other folks, infer a "separation of church and state" because Thomas Jefferson (who both inspired the First Amendment as well as contributed to its authorship) stated  in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."  So yes, Jefferson included the First Amendment into the Bill of Rights, in order to codify the concept of "separation of church and state"  into Constitutional law.  It has further been cemented into Constitutional law through a number of Supreme Court rulings, using the very phrase "separation of church and state.".  So yes, to paraphrase the post above - separation of church and state IS the law of the land.

DebraFaber
DebraFaber

@windbourne @Jeca  Fetal viability is variable :  20 to 35 percent of babies born at 23 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 24 to 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks.  My preference is to leave that decision to a woman and her doctor, particularly if the health or life of the mother is threatened.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

@LifeIsPrecious 

Then if you are ever in that position, feel free to have the courage of your convictions.  If I am ever in that position, feel free to mind your own business.  Women make personal and legal decisions all the time and they don't include you or a bunch of GOTP politicians.

n7specops
n7specops

@jmac @n7specops I agree, I'm just saying, sociology is a science which is why it's called a social-science because everything is figured out through research as well as deductive reasoning so there isn't any room what so ever for logical fallacies and there were a lot of religious people in those classes that got mad whenever I would speak up against them and they refused to care about or understand the science part of it LOL. Their response was usually something akin to "it exists because God wants it to exist" and then they would go on and on about some scripture in the Bible. And I'm not gonna disrespect anyone over their beliefs and how single-minded or short-sighted or just plain stupid they are, because everyone has the right to believe whatever. But there are people that refuse to see logic, and that is holding the world and all of our capabilities back so, so much.

notsacredh
notsacredh

So many vaginas. So little time.

anon76
anon76

@point2

Spoken like someone who doesn't really understand what's implied by "oversaw more executions by the state than any other U.S. governor in history".

windbourne
windbourne

@DebraFaber @windbourne @Jeca  Debra, I fully agree that if a mom's health is threatened, then all bets off. However, after X weeks (most likely 20), I see no real reason why a woman should have an elective abortion.  
I would say X should be at the point where either the brain is acknowledged as having upper functions, or when the fetus is viable outside of the womb (even with medical assistance).
The problem is, that most of those pushing the 20 week are simply trying to whittle away at this, and will not stop. OTOH, those who do not want this, are worried about it being argued to go further. What is needed is for an understanding that those us who can see value in cutting down the elective time, are not going to support fully anti-abortion stance.
I can not give that to you, BUT, I doubt that it would happen. 
I know that I oppose that. 

n7specops
n7specops

@point2 @jmac @n7specops And thats not to say that non-religious political, military, or business leaders are different, because it all has to do with group-think (when someone points their finger and says thats a good idea or a bad idea and then the crowd follows suit)

n7specops
n7specops

@point2 @jmac @n7specops I do agree that religious people believe in human rights, but in many cases it's simply because some religious leader or the text it's self says something is right or wrong. It turns into "God says so" And like I said above, I agree that religious people believe in many things that non-religious people believe in, but many religious officials tend to make themselves seem like gods among men and when they say something their flock follows.

point2
point2

@jmac @n7specops The pro-life movement is not about religion, it's about human rights.  Non-religious people believe in human rights too.

jmac
jmac

@n7specops @jmac I used to feel the same way, until religion took over a political party.  It's important to speak up, even to those quoting the bible.   I was amazed when I moved back to Texas and found that the same rhetoric still being used and was covered up by religion. It's not a good thing and we need to speak up - otherwise, we get creationism taught in our science class.  I don't care if I hurt their feelings or if they feel stupid if I speak up.   


notsacredh
notsacredh

I practically worship the furry little critters.