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DANNENFELSER: ‘Culture wars’ are just getting started
Pro-life women are leading the charge
Question of the Day
Happy days are here again for Planned Parenthood. November's elections brought the $1 billion domestic organization, the largest abortion enterprise in the United States, a victory at the polls for which, in the manner of such things, it deserves credit. It has helped return to the White House the most active pro-abortion president in American history, protected the largest expansion of abortion and abortion subsidies since Roe v. Wade, and reinstated a Democratic Senate that will block pro-life initiatives and battle tooth and nail for judges who will protect abortion on demand.
In the wake of this impressive victory, a handful of commentators, most notably Thomas Edsall at The New York Times, are declaring the "culture wars" over. Naturally, pro-life women disagree.
The 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is approaching, and it remains as true today as it was on that fateful morning in 1973 that it is unnatural and wrong for women to find themselves pitted against their offspring in the womb. The fight for life is one we can never relinquish because for millions of us -- a majority now, if Gallup's polling is accurate -- the right to life is not about "our bodies, ourselves" but about our own flesh and blood and a human-centered future.
The past few decades have witnessed all kinds of declarations that we have reached an endpoint in history. Francis Fukuyama memorably wrote that a liberal (in the original sense) democratic consensus was emerging and totalitarian governments were passing from the world stage. To the contrary, the People's Republic of China is becoming the world's largest economy even as it continues to impose a one-child-per-couple, forced-abortion regime on its people.
A number of times in recent memory -- 1980, 1992, 1994 and now 2012 -- one political party has anointed itself the winner and announced its opponent was headed into the wilderness. Pro-life women, however, are not quite ready to dine forever on locusts and honey. We do not see ourselves as victims of history but as its authors or, more precisely, its co-authors. We are ready to work with men of every hue, and we recoil at the idea that the protection of human life and personal responsibility constitutes a war on women.
Buried underneath the triumphant headlines and the sad truth that Planned Parenthood's annual draw on the U.S. taxpayer is unlikely to be trimmed soon, the reality is that Cecile Richards and company helped the Democrats take a dramatic turn to the left this fall. At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the party of death, as Ramesh Ponnuru calls it, announced its opposition to "any and all efforts" to limit abortions by law in the United States. It called for public financing of abortion, using the code phrase "without regard to the ability to pay."
True to its words, it spent most of 2012 fighting against a ban even on abortions performed just because the baby is a girl, against a law to proscribe abortions late in pregnancy, when the baby can feel pain, and against the right of a mother to view the same ultrasound scan of her developing child that the abortionist will use to guide his destructive instruments.
Planned Parenthood reminded us of something else following this election season. Using a radically simple message, the organization spent millions of dollars last summer on television ads, mailers and bus placards in target states, stoking the "Fears of Fluke," the spurious charge named after free-contraception advocate Sandra Fluke, that women's access to birth control was about to be taken away. The real battle was over whether religious institutions could be compelled to give away those inexpensive items for free. This early messaging, like the "early money" that launched Emily's List two decades ago, was very effective.
Iron sharpens iron, and pro-life groups will be better prepared for this strategy next time. We need not wait. Now that a bitter election season is behind us, reality returns, and that reality is a very close contest. Already, governors across the nation are resisting extension of a draconian federal role in health care that Planned Parenthood hopes will lead ultimately to universal coverage of unlimited abortion. Thirty of those governors are Republicans, nearly all of whom embrace a consistent ethos of economic growth and strong civil institutions such as church and family. We will continue to work with those governors and willing Democrats to protect the unborn from sex selection, to allow mothers to see accurate images of their babies, to stop excruciating midterm abortions, to ban abortion funding in state exchanges, and to put women's health dollars, including family-planning funds, into agencies that don't perform, as Planned Parenthood does, some 2 million abortions worldwide every year.
To Planned Parenthood, then, congratulations on your victory. Just don't get too comfortable in that lounge chair.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B. Anthony List.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
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