Posted Thursday, January 29, 2009 4:22 PM
Earlier this week, Sarah Kliff wrote a story about the new political climate and how it changes pro-life strategy. "The election of a pro-choice administration and a Democratic Congress has divided the pro-life movement," Sarah writes, "between those who are preparing for the fight of their lives [against Roe v. Wade] and those who see an opportunity to redefine what it means to be pro-life [by focusing on reduction strategies]."
Of course, abortion stories are controversial. So, along with the 300 comments that populate the forum, National Right to Life has put a hit out on Sarah Kliff, calling her such wonderful things as "uneducated." (She's not.)
In their long essay, they accuse our piece of, essentially, making up a pro-life strategy that they say doesn't exist, squaring the blame on Sarah for saying that groups of people are working together when they actually aren't. Click above to read their essay, which ends with this line: "There will be no end to stories [like Newsweek's].Their objective is to convince us that people and organizations, whose entire reason for existence is to multiply the number of abortions, have suddenly seen the bipartisan/compromise/common ground light."
Because of this, I asked Sarah to go back through her reporting and respond to the criticism. Here's her take:
As I write in my story, even when you arrive at the “common ground” of abortion politics, there are complex fault lines to navigate. The pro-life movement is not giving up their fight to overturn Roe v. Wade - nor does my story suggest that they should. There are, however, some activists and legislators pursuing additional strategies, including the abortion reduction legislation that I explore in this story. One of the complexities to navigate here is language: what defines an 'abortion reduction' strategy? Restricting access to clinics that provide abortion has been one way the pro-life movement has attempted to reduce abortion in the United States.
Now, some pro-life legislators and activists are considering a different definition: reducing the need for abortion through socioeconomic supports. The Support Pregnant Women Act is a good example of this. The legislation aims to reduce abortion through, among other provisions, better Medicaid assistance and more resources for parenting students. It has received support from many legislators with strong pro-life records, including Chris Smith (R-NJ) who spoke at the March for Life I attended. The pro-life leaders I spoke with didn't see these strategies as forcing activists to ‘give up the fight to pass legislation,' but another way to pursue a pro-life agenda.