Time to Change Pro-Life Tactics?

Over the last forty years, the pro-life movement has had its ups and downs. Since the Supreme Court made abortion a so-called “right” in 1973, the number of legal abortions skyrocketed from around 700,000 at that time to 1.6 million in 1990. Recent statistics however show young people are more pro-life than ever, and across the country states (in addition to Members of Congress) are advancing strong pro-life legislation.

One such state is Mississippi. On April 16, the state’s new governor signed legislation that “requires all physicians at abortion clinics in Mississippi to be board-certified OB-GYN and to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.” This is both a victory and a “teachable moment” for the pro-life movement.

What is so significant is that the pro-life legislation passed in Mississippi (and similarly in Virginia) was made as fool proof as possible from the demonizing tactics of the left. The pro-life movement should emulate these successful principles and move away from those that are not working. For example, ultrasound legislation can be deemed as guilting mothers into not aborting their children or invading personal privacy. However, it is more difficult to argue against raising the standards of medical clinics so that women have a more sterile and professional environment. Yes, the left will still attack these standards, as the owner of the abortion clinic in Mississippi has, but the inherent controversy and liklihood of total defeat will be far less.

There are four other things pro-lifers should keep in mind that are tangentially related to the lesson Mississippi has provided, and which are directly related to converting a culture that is largely indifferent regarding abortion:

  • Stop using Biblical arguments to debate abortion. After attending the 2010 March for Life, I do not think using religious arguments will persuade either self-described Christians who agree with abortion or non-Christians who agree with abortion. The science of life is in our favor, and we should emphasize this. This is not meant as a denigration or repudiation of religious work or prayer done to protect life – I am a strong Catholic participating in prayer protests before abortion clinics – but a practical recognition of living in a pluralistic society with many people who do not possess a Christian-based belief in the sanctity of unborn life.
  • Do a better job of educating people about the responsiblilty that comes with sexual activity and explain better the help and care that can be provided so women will not feel as though abortion is their best or only option. I supported Indiana governor Mitch Daniel’s position of reforming and shrinking the federal welfare state as it is a critical piece in taking away incentives to act irresponsibly.
  • Shock and awe have their place, as does presenting difficult truths, but indiscriminately throwing up images of dead babies and similar tactics as employed by Randall Terry will cause most people to simply turn and look in the other direction. Again, the majority of Americans are pro-choice, pro-abortion, or indifferent to the debate and just want it to go away. Used correctly, the shock and awe strategy can be effective, but often less so than engaging in a strong, purposeful, respectful discussion.
  • Stop making abortion about women vs. children. Both are victims. Every time a pro-life activist blames a woman for having an abortion, that activist should in the same breath blame the men who get women pregnant and then either abandon them or encourage them to abort the child.  We should make the battle about protecting women and unborn children from the abortion centers whose livelihood depends on the murder of children.The unfortunate fact is that we live in a nation where abortion is legal, and much of the public either favors it or is neutral on the debate. Undue focus on the women involved makes it even easier for supporters of abortion to successfully claim a false “war on women,” which makes creating a culture of life that much harder.

The pro-life movement is gaining ground, and the desperation of the pro-abortion left after the temporary decision by Komen to defund Planned Parenthood is indicative of this. However, if we continue to make the kinds of tactical errors disucssed here, millions of babies will die before America becomes a culture of life instead of a culture of death. The pro-life movement must adapt its strategies appropriately, and soon, in order to protect as many mothers and unborn children as possible.

Dustin Siggins


Dustin Siggins is the D.C. correspondent for LifeSiteNews.com and former blogger for Tea Party Patriots. He is co-author of the forthcoming book America's Bankrupt Legacy: The Future of the Debt-Paying Generation.

  • Pingback: Time to Change Pro-Life Tactics? | Catholic Canada()

  • Howard Kainz

    ” The majority of Americans are pro-choice, pro-abortion, or indifferent to the debate.” Not quite accurate.  Galup pols indicate that 61% either believe abortion should be abolished, or subject to restrictions — e.g. cases of rape, incest, or danger to life of mother.

  • Jcsmitty1212

    I think these points have been learned to a large extent already. The abortion industry will always find some weird argument against whatever we do (e.g., comparing sonogram requirements before abortions to “rape,” even though abortionists use the same devices when actually performing the abortion), but the positive argument is that sonograms empower women to make informed decisions.

    One person put it very well the other day: our priority should not be to make abortion illegal, but to make abortion unthinkable.

    Anyone who cares about women and sees the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual harm that follows an abortion knows that women facing a crisis pregnancy need support to have their babies and not be condemned.

  • Johnofaustria

    The title of this article is misleading.  The “changes” have been in the forefront of the Pro-Life movement for years.  Pro-Lifers have NEVER seen this as “women vs. children”.  Perhaps Mr. Siggens has been in the media field too long, since it has ALWAYS  been the caricature of Pro-Lifers conjured by the media.  And very successsful they have been, if Mr. Siggens is any indication.  But we Pro-Lifers will absorb this gentle remonstrance, as we have all (countless) others and bear our burden knowing the babies bear more.   

  • El Arga

    Author says we should “blame the men who get women pregnant.”   This implies, absurdly, that women don’t get pregnant except when men “make them pregnant.”   Unless he is talking about rape, which as far as I know is still a relatively rare event, pregnancy is typically the result of a cooperative effort; women “make themselves” pregnant as much as men “make them” pregnant.

  • Cathalloftus

    Many women who abort are not victims of seduction and abandonment, and nor or many of the married abortuants pressured by their husbands. Though it is politically incorrect to say so, there are plenty of women who senselessly slaughter their babies; and there are even more who support their “right” to do so. These people are not amenable to friendly persuasion or to intellectual argument; be it biblical, scientific, or even politically correct. There used to be a law against abortion; indeed there probably still is such a law- in desuetude. We must bring all murderers to justice – even if they are females!   

  • daisy

    Actually, it’s not two victims. One is dead and the other gets to live happily ever after. I know some women suffer but I’ve never met one who didn’t sigh with relief whenver she spoke of her action.

    • Jcsmitty1212

      You must be meeting a different breed of women than I do. The ones I’ve met were far from relieved. I think the panic that sets in when a woman finds she is pregnant outside of marriage, or whatever the crisis is, just wants the “crisis” to go away. After an abortion, however, that initial “relief” (if, indeed, there is any) is replaced by nagging “second thoughts.” In time, there is anger, depression, addictions to deal with the pain of loss, etc., etc. Even those who are in denial will eventually face the truth–some carry the burden for decades an duntil their own death.

  • fondatori

    Dustin – this is a very compassionate and thoughtful critique.  I hope people take it to heart.

  • BillyHW

    Women are not victims.  Let’s speak the truth.

    If women are not responsible for their sins and crimes, they are not responsible enough to vote.

    And except in the cases of rape, women choose the men that they sleep with.

  • hombre111

    Pretty good common sense.   This advice would make it harder to marginalize  pro-lifers by making them part of the idiot fringe. 

    But there is one more crucial point which I discovered when I was part of a demonstration in front of an abortion clinic:  Most abortions are not caused by doctors.   The women go to the clinic where they are given a pill, which they swallow under the supervision of a nurse.  Then they go home, where the medically caused abortion takes place.  And, if I understood it correctly, they then go back to the clinic where they take another pill which causes the body to expel the dead baby. 

    In other words, when a physician performs an abortion, it is done by somebody else’s hand.  But with the modern pills, the woman does it by her own hand.   This has to be addressed in a compassionate but honest way.  But how?

  • We need to change the anti-life, pro-contraceptive, and sexually immoral mindset of our country first, which is what got us into this mess. Sex begets children. (I know, this is quite shocking.) But we need to change people’s hearts on a personal level.

  • Pingback: Time to Change Pro-Life Tactics? |()

  • Pargontwin

    Yes, indeed, confront the men!  I worked in a hospital for fourteen years, and our emergency room routinely treats pregnant women who have been beaten by their boyfriends, and sometimes even their husbands,  in an attempt to induce miscarriages when the women refused to have abortions.  Thank you for reminding everyone that men bear equal responsibility for this heinous sin.

  • Pingback: Time To Change Pro-Life Tactics? « The Greenroom()

  • Dustin Siggins is quite ready to take an adept swing at this nation’s greatest pro-life leader, Randall Terry.  Congratulations to Mr. Siggins for having effectively communicated both disdain for Mr. Terry–as he has been running in the Democratic primaries against Mr. Obama–and his own arrogance towards Randall’s strategy.   Mr. Siggins apparently deems it of no value, the fact that, thanks to those images of babies (murdered by abortion) in his campaign TV ads, Mr. Terry actually beat President Obama in 14 counties in Oklahoma on March 6, Super Tuesday.  I repeat: Mr. Randall Terry beat President Obama in 14 counties, and won over 18% of the Democratic vote across the state of Oklahoma.  Now, hopefully Mr. Siggins will appreciate the victory that that vote represents for the unborn.  But if that should fail, perhaps it may give him pause to ask why the Executive Director of the DNC, Patrick Gaspard, found it of utmost importance to fire off a letter to TV broadcasters, attempting to undermine Randall’s legitimacy, this past January.
    If not, Mr. Siggins will comfort himself with having some more “strong, purposeful, respectful discussion (s)” with some of our leaders who think that child-killing by abortion is just fine (Obama, Biden, Pelosi). Best of luck to Mr. Siggins as he attempts to negotiate, to “talk sense,”  with dragons.  Best of luck.  People who respect the power of images to influence millions of consciences will treat Mr. Siggins’ words with the contempt that they so richly deserve.

  • Mr. Siggins, with all due respect, what the hell is wrong with you? You claim to be a Christian but are instructing the pro-life movement to not use Biblical arguments?

    You say that “indiscriminately throwing up images of dead babies and similar tactics
    as employed by Randall Terry will cause most people to simply turn and
    look in the other direction.” I guess you are telling the pro-life movement to forget the strong rhetoric/tactics/actions of past social revolutions and instead use the tactics of the pro-child killing movement that doesn’t want us to show dead babies.

    You also say “Stop making abortion about women vs. children.” How many pro-lifers do you know that do this? Barely any do, that is one of the problems. Sure a man can be at fault for various different things, and he should be held accountable, but if a women pays someone to knife her baby to death and throw it him/her in the trash, the we have got to hold the women responsible as well as the assassin.

    You sir, Mr. Siggins, are a wussy and a wimp.

  • Jerry

    Mr. Siggins doesn’t get it. A big reason that there is a whole new generation of pro-lifers is because leaders like Randall Terry brought the ugly truth about baby mass murder to an entire generation of parents who raised their children to be pro-life. Those children have the proud legacy of having had patents who risked it all to block clinics and get arrested.

    Those children of those heroic parents are now in their twenties and thirties, the same age Randall Terry was when leading the charge in the late 80s and early 90s.

    We need a new Joshua generation of pro-life activists, not spectators.

  • Pingback: Um, I’m sorry, I’m unworldly, unattractive and unpleasant? « imperfectkate()

  • I know I’m a lone voice in a sea of angry, misguided nonsense. But way to go. You’re right. Change is hard, but necessary.

  • Pingback: Different Paths, One Goal for Life | Race 4 2012()

  • Pingback: Different Paths, One Goal for Life « The Greenroom()

  • Richard Prince

    Dustin is not a “wussy and a wimp”.  He simply has opinions that differ from yours (and mine).  I have known Dustin for a long time and he DOES care, he IS a Christian but he sees other strategies.  I think many of the criticisms of this article are legitimate, but let’s not degrade ourselves through name-calling.

  • Pingback: Conservatism losing its way, as usual « The Orthosphere()

  • TtT Engine

    Show these women via “The Silent Scream” what actually happens in an abortion, thanks to the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson, God rest his soul. Compare the filthy, satanic abortuary to images of the gas chambers and death camps of Nazi Germany. This is not sensationalism, but reality. Explain to these young gals the horror and life long trauma of having an abortion. Look at the grotesque images the latest t.v. adds depictof  the effects of smoking on the human body. We live in an age of imagery. If we can win this election and get rid of the Planned Parenthood President, we can make inroads into media where we can  broadcast more of the Truths about Abortion. Never lower the bar and eradicate the origins of the evil of abortion which explicitly come from God and our Judaio-Christian Value System of which the U.S.A. was founded on. Christi Fidelis !

  • Abateaf

    I agree with everything in this article. I especially agree with not using bible quotes. When you are talking to someone who believes that the bib le is a book of myths, bible quotes will have zero effect. Scietific facts don’t contradict the bible and can give people from different sides something to discuss.

  • Pingback: Stanek weekend question: Is it time to change pro-life tactics? | FavStocks()

  • Pingback: Stanek weekend question: Is it time to change pro-life tactics? | FavStocks()

  • While I can appreciate Mr. Siggins entry into the battle, since he admits to participating in prayer events in front of abortion mills, everything that he has mentioned is well known to veteran pro-life activists.  We all have well known that most women find themselves seeking abortion not because they want to “choose,” but because they have in their minds NO choice. We have to offer them the reality that they can choose life and that it is in their AND their child’s best interests to do so.  Dr. Wilke coined the phrase many years ago – “why can’t we love them both?”  That has for the overwhelming majority of pro-life activists the default position. in spite of the lies and misrepresentations constantly perpetrated by the media.

    We have long advocated any means of saving the two and sometimes three victims of abortion. Most of us will  use any legitimate means that works. This may mean the use of gruesome pictures, religious arguments, as we;; as the scientific evidence which again we veterans have ALWAYS used to advance the cause.  As for legislation, again anything that can save a child and protect a mother, is to be seriously considered in order to obtain the goal of full protection for every human being, born and unborn. 

    It is true that most people do not enjoy hearing about abortion – be they pro-life or “pro-choice.”  There is a simple reason for this and it applies to the average church goer all the way to presidential candidates – once you seriously realize that we are allowing the killing of children every day in this country AND that despite this knowledge we are going about our lives as if nothing is wrong – he are all culpable unless we do something to stop it. And once we realize that – there is no going back. You can NEVER walk away.  So we close our eyes and cover our ears and pretend – pretend that those pro-lifers are extremists; pretend that it is just another “ministry;” pretend that their tactics won’t work and therefore I do not need to get involved. We get mad when someone “guilts” us into doing something and we resent them so we call them zealots or other names.  We tell ourselves that we are not like them. And we justify our inaction.

    Fortunately many of our children, now grown, abortion survivors, reject this complacency. They want to end the killing. They see the urgency and demand action now. Fortunately there are new leaders who are not willing to go slow, but want to end the killing NOW. They have great drive. It is my prayer that their intensity,  their sense of urgency, combined with the wisdom of their elders will forge a new and stronger pro-life movement where their will be no compromise on the principles of protecting all life, that there will be a better use of media to reach the public and SELL the pro-life message, and that there will be a new collaboration among pro-life organizations to defeat the abortion industry on their own turf – by offering women REAL  health care for them and their babies, and by exposing the abortion industry’s dark and deviant side to the American public.

    The American people know that abortion kills babies. They now need to recognize what we in the pro-life movement know  – that abortion permanently and tragically harms, kills and scars women.

    As for the men – real men stand for life.  Real men defend women and children against that which is evil. Abortion is evil. Real men are against abortion. It is time for men to take their place and defend life.

  • Centurion 9.41

    What an amazing amount of subjective assertion and ignorance.

    “Stop using Biblical arguments to debate abortion.”

    Really?  I’ll agree that far too many Old Testament references, that are easy to dismiss since they do not carry the weight of Christ’s words or the words of His direct disciples.  However for a group like Crisis Magazine to tell Christians to stop using the Word of God?  Shame on you for denying Him.

    “The science of life is in our favor, and we should emphasize this.”

    Really?  The science is in “our” favor?  Let’s get something straight.  Until science PROVES something it’s in no one’s favor.  It is merely the OPINION of man, hence that it’s called a THEORY.  The best and ONLY scientific argument that can and should be made goes along these lines; every time a human egg and sperm unite in a woman, unless there’s an ABNORMAL problem, the result is a human life.   When they disagree, you then say of course I can not prove that it is a human life.  But given that every time a normal, healthy or unhealthy, joining of an egg and sperm takes place, the result is the DNA sequence ONLY found in a human, and we know for a fact that this has been occurring for thousands of years, and since by your own admission a human’s life and their freedom to live as they see fit is very very important to y0u, then it falls upon you to PROVE that it is not a human life before you impose your will upon that human life. 

    “indiscriminately throwing up images of dead babies and similar tactics
    as employed by Randall Terry will cause most people to simply turn and
    look in the other direction”

    Really?  You know there was a nasty war in Vietnam, which was ended due
    to the public opinion… AFTER they saw, repeatedly, the horrors of
    war.  In my experience, the only people who “simply turn and look in the
    other direction” are those who have an agenda for abortion or are
    Cafeteria Christians who really are more spiritual relativists than
    people of Faith.

    Tell you what, drive home, non-stop, the primacy of the above “science” argument and augment it with an aggressive “anti-Vietnam War” style media campaign, and abortion would be virtually non-existent.

    Lastly, and I think most importantly, after the obvious – murdered babies, this whole question is about what you got 100% wrong; your

    “Stop making abortion about women vs. children.”

    Really?   There’s a deafening public silence from MOST women who are
    against abortion and claim to be Christian.   Funny how it’s so similar to Muslims with “radical Islamic” terrorism.  However, it does not stop there.  There’s a
    deafening silence by this same group of women when it comes to defending
    men who are being attacked by pro-abortion women.   

    So, if WOMEN are
    the ones who lay claim to being the most knowledgeable, most effected,
    and the ones who can speak with the most moral authority on the matter,
    how can women NOT be the ones who are leading the charge against unborn
    children and leading the retreat from the fight for life? 

    Abortion is
    100% about women and children because women make it about women and

    Women do the same thing during divorce by using the children to punish and “get even” with men.   And they do it in far, far, far greater frequency than do the men to women.  In fact it
    is the MINORITY  of women who do NOT behave in such a way. 

    Society has
    for over 40 years been beating the drum of women’s superiority on a moral,
    social justice and leadership level.   The Catholic Church during
    Vatican II embraced a FEMININE attitude toward the Mass and toward the Faith.   And what have been the fruits?  We’ve seen virtually no NEW good fruits that did not exist in prior cultures.  We’ve seen many, many rotten fruits.

    One of the reasons Satan is one of the greatest tragedies in all history
    is that he fell from such a high place of honor.  And Satan fell
    through HIS WILL and HIS WANTS.  One can almost hear it now, “I am
    Satan, watch me roar!”

    Thank God for the internet.  I am convinced it is a gift directly from God.  Why?  If you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s virtually destroyed the illusion created by the 1970s & feminists regarding women being the “stronger/better” sex.  As well as so many other lies told by the MSM; lies that in the past were never able to be seriously questioned.   More importantly, the internet allows the priests, nuns and faithful who are truly faithful to the Faith and Magesterium to be heard above the cacophony of the “progressives” in the Catholic Church.

    The real reason there’s been such a sea change within the young about abortion… THEY know how to use the internet and their EYES have seen the truth of abortion.    It has nothing to do with the gentle admonition’s of their mothers, Mother Church, or any rational arguments.  They have simply seen the truth.


  • Alecto

    To that fine article, I would add the following arguments:  1) abortion advocates unfairly target minorities and locate in poverty centers.  It is a socially-acceptable form of discrimination against women who have even fewer options, and 2) abortion unfairly targets female children now through sex selection preferences for men and genetic testing (which Rick Santorum publicly and rightly decried).  If that isn’t the ultimate form of discrimination, I don’t know what is! 

  • Pingback: Time to Change Pro-Life Tactics? John Jakubczyk responds()

  • John

    I think this argument has to be made one person at a time.  My in-laws are pro-abortion.  I asked them if they had ever seen an abortion and offered them the Silent Scream and the video on Abort73.com.  They turned me down but I pray that they will look for themselves in the quiet of their computer room.  I cannot imagine anyone being for abortion after seeing these.  Media is effective and so is science.  As Catholics we still need to convince non-believers that their is a God and that we are created in His image and likeness.

  • crazymom13

    I agree. I am also not a fan of Mr Terry and his tactics. Additionally, I urge prolifers to never exagerrate their argument. I’ve too often heard medical/scientific / social arguments with enough embellishment to make them not true…science and truth are on our side and truth never needs embellishment.

  • 3GuyMcClung3

    Mr Siggins-Many sidewalk folks and sidewalk counselors have for years embodied all the changes you discuss-and in doing so have saved 1000s of babies, and mothers, and fathers. Elizabeth McClung goes all over the country teaching  how to change a firl’s or woman’s mind at that last moment- one of her slogans “save babies, save mothers”- and part of what she does is go over a list of words that are never to be said to a girl or woman before she walks thru the door of the abortion busine$$s to kill her baby-“kill” being just one of those words.  I think what you are talking about is changing the way some folks approach prolife work-many of those on the front lines made this change a long time ago.

    Sidewalk Counselors: Your Work Won’t Go Unrewarded What a fine guest column Edmund B. Miller has written about the
    generous and amazing work done by prayer warriors and sidewalk counselors
    outside abortion businesses (“Abortion & The Creed of Progress,” Jan.-Feb.).
    He admits that “discouragement comes swiftly and heavily. Often I wonder why I
    should and do continue.” Anyone who has stood and prayed outside an abortion
    business can echo these feelings; but the unseen effects of these prayers, of
    this witness, are far beyond what can be imagined.

    Last fall a group of
    us were praying outside the last abortion business (of four) in Corpus Christi,
    Texas, when a car drove up and screeched to a sudden stop right by us. When this
    happens one usually expects the worst. But this time a man got out and
    approached us, weeping. “You have no idea of the good you do here,” he said to
    us. “Thirteen years ago my pregnant girlfriend and I drove up here and you all
    were praying here. This was for her scheduled abortion. We went inside and we
    felt the evil. I thought about you all on the outside praying. We left. And now,
    because of you, she is my wife and, because of you, we have beautiful twin
    teenage daughters. Never stop this, keep praying here.”

    All of us who
    were there that day 13 years ago probably felt the “discouragement that comes
    swiftly and heavily.” But our prayers touched this man and his girlfriend and
    changed the course of human history. This is why those who stand and pray
    “should and do continue.”

    Another time we prayed most of the day outside
    a Planned Parenthood abortion business in Bryan/College-Station, Texas, as 17
    girls and women went in for abortions, with no “saves.” Once the “business” day
    was over late in the afternoon, we went to a local restaurant, depressed and
    gloomy. While we were there, a woman came up to us and asked if we were “the
    people praying at the Planned Parenthood clinic.” We told her we were, and she
    said, “Thank you, I saw you praying and because of you I did not go in for the
    abortion.” This is reason enough to continue, because even if we do not know
    about it, a baby might be saved because of our prayers.

    I firmly believe
    that when anyone who stands and prays outside an abortion business, anyone who
    engages in sidewalk counseling, anyone who is a conduit for God’s love to these
    girls and women, gets to the pearly gates and St. Peter is studying the book and
    checking the commandments against what the person has done, there is going to be
    a crowd of little children telling St. Peter, perhaps impatiently, “This is our
    friend. She [or he] is why you call your book the ‘Book of Life.’ You have to
    let her come in here with us.”

    Mr. Miller is correct when he says that
    those who pray and those who counsel have “not been paid to do this.” This is
    true, in the practical sense. But in the spiritual sense, what one gives away is
    what one takes to Heaven; and those who do this give God’s love, and they take
    with them to Heaven the embodiment of that love in the saved children and the
    saved mothers, fathers, and families, and the love in each caress and kiss those
    mothers give to their babies.

    Guy McClungRockport, Texas

  • Nancy from Virginia

    The Mississippi and Virginia legislation to require abortions be done only by certified Ob-Gyn’s with hospital privileges is definitely a step in the positive direction, building consensus to protect women from the false info and profit motives of the often uncertified doctors in abortion clinics. An even better law is the one passed decades ago in Lancaster County, PA — Amish country. There, the law requires that an abortion clinic have a contract for Emergency Ambulance Services from a local hospital — no hospital will contract with a free-standing abortion clinic for Emergency Services, because hospital administrators are well aware of the high rates of malpractice, including damage and death for women, in such facilities. Lancaster County has thereby successfully prevented any of these clinics from opening in their area.   

  • ReadtheCatechism

    Great article!

  • Pingback: Stanek weekend question: Is it time to change pro-life tactics? | Jill Stanek()

  • Pingback: Remember: If pro-life campaigns were working, we wouldn’t still need pro-life campaigns()