- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

There's one piece of rhetoric I've been repeating alongside abortion activists throughout this election season: What a shame that abortion is still a legal issue.

Because if it could just be allowed to exit the legal sphere, we might finally get honest reflection and dialogue maybe even some factual concessions from the pro-choice warriors.

If the left were to win the war and so have nothing at stake, its media mouthpieces could be more forthcoming in exposing the full abortion story. Not only are the frequent physical and emotional debilitations of the procedure still hazy in the minds of most Americans, but the public has yet to glimpse a prime-time visual or two of what, say, a late-term abortion looks like. Perhaps "Nightline" would be willing to do a special on women who have had abortions and joined the pro-life movement after the experience (245,000 such women are members of National Right to Life, compared to 39,000 who opted for the National Abortion Rights Action League).

With news organizations back on the job, we could get a closer look at the flip side of the newly approved RU-486 abortion drug, which causes enough bleeding to require one woman in 500 to have a transfusion. As things stand now, it's doubtful we'll ever meet that woman. Or that we'll ever get more than an evasion on the question of why there is still an undisputed federal statute forbidding the execution of a woman on death row if she is pregnant. But if they had nothing to lose, members of the media could help make it a more widely known fact, for example, that the partial-birth procedure has its regulars, for whom it can be an annual event. Or that 40 percent of women getting an abortion have more than one, and for 50 percent of aborting women it is the only birth-control they use.

Rather than the pro-life camp and conservative think tanks, with NBC, CNN and the New York Times as our sources for the facts, perhaps the facts would be less discountable, and a consideration would emerge not solely for "a woman's body," but for that of the other, smaller woman's (or man's) body growing within it.

As artfully as only they can, the media could drive home the irony of how on one floor of a hospital a doctor works feverishly to expel a six-month old fetus from his patient's body, while at that moment on another floor of the same hospital many dollars are spent and a team of doctors struggles desperately to save a premature baby of the same age.

Alongside sex education in schools, there could be post-sex education, which early on would impress upon students the frequent fate of unintended pregnancies of whom some of them represent a survivor subset so that the sobering consequences of impulsive trysts would stay emblazoned on their young psyches into their restless young adult years. The left could then redirect its energies and use its prowess for scare tactics to a positive end, making abstinence the central lesson of sex-ed a less laughable notion. As recently as the 1970s, wasn't the idea of no smoking on airplanes also laughable? And who would have believed that one day many Manhattan restaurants would be smoke-free? Public perception changes.

Today young people with a serious attitude toward life don't smoke. Imagine a highway with as many billboards suggesting abstinence as those appealing to children against tobacco companies, or those featuring wire hangers as a stark reminder of the alternative to legal abortion.

For better or worse, people are sheep. If newspapers were able to secure public respect for minorities, if the gay movement could go from winning tolerance to gaining approval and then celebration, and if slogan campaigns could put a real dent in drunk driving, then surely messages of abstinence can be as effective as visuals of wire hangers. To think otherwise is to ignore the day's trends, including a revival of old-fashioned courtship and a growing movement of "born-again" virginity.

With the added step of removing the legal question from the abortion debate, women would no longer feel their way of life was being threatened and, rather than termination as first response, their champions could promote adoption as the primary "choice" facing a woman.

With the focus thus shifted, fewer women would vote single-issue politics, finally permitting their political horizons to expand to heretofore unvisited considerations like foreign policy, national security and economic freedom versus economic slavery, as faced us this past election.

The honest dialogue and newly open minds that would prevail in this demystified world could lead the previously guarded and desensitized to begin to fathom why there was once a pro-life movement. They may even begin to emerge as its new leaders.

Julia Gorin is a columnist living in New York and a contributing editor to JewishWorldReview.com

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