Not long ago in Iowa Governor Romney caused a slight kerfuffle when he said he did not have any specific legislative proposals for the right to life. Almost immediately he added that he would, however, reinstitute Mexico City Policy. Ho-hum.
Mexico City Policy is often touted by candidates and by office holders as pro-life bona fides sufficient to warm the cockles of even the most ardent pro-lifer’s heart and it shouldn’t be.
Mexico City Policy forbids the tiniest sliver of the federal budget from supporting groups that perform or promote abortion overseas. It is often mentioned in the same breath with defunding the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), a largely wicked UN agency that promotes abortion around the world.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
Sign up to get Crisis articles delivered to your inbox daily
Both have become political territory fought over viciously as if they were Alsace-Lorraine. A new president comes in and almost immediately strikes down or reestablishes Mexico City Policy and later, in his budget, either funds or defunds UNFPA. Partisan street fighting ensues.
The thing is, neither one of them—Mexico City Policy or UNFPA funding—are of paramount importance in the larger pro-life scheme of things.
Mexico City Policy affects a part of the federal budget for family planning totaling a relatively meager $461 million. Understand that hardly any of this would go to groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. One House staff member says the amounts are not known. What is known is that a portion would go to International Planned Parenthood Federation and Marie Stopes International, the two largest abortion providers in the world.
The fight over UNFPA is also a bloody battle and this over an annual grant of a measly $25 million, an infinitesimal amount of the US budget and a small portion of UNFPA’s almost billion-dollar annual budget.
The sexual left fights over these amounts as if losing them marks the end of the world. They routinely trot out questionable statistics about the thousands and thousands of women who would die if these funds were not allocated. This is profoundly dishonest and not because of the made up statistics of maternal mortality but also because this money is almost always immediately replaced by the UK, Norway and other “donor” countries. When the US first started defunding UNFPA the amount was immediately replaced by the European Union, and UNFPA went on a decade-long fund drive that saw their budget grow from $250 million to north of $750 million.
I am not saying these things are not important to pro-lifers. They are. But they are a bare minimum. They are the lowest possible hanging fruit. What we want is for our politicians to climb the ladder and reach for the fruit on the top of the tree. Mexico City Policy and defunding UNFPA cannot replace the large bore pro-life demands such as a pro-life Attorney General, a pro-life Secretary of Health and Human Services, judges and justices who are originalists and texturalists who can be counted on to interpret the constitution in its plain meaning and not in its “penumbras” and “emanations.” And these are just for starters.
Touting these things is similar to politicians using partial birth abortion to prove they are pro-life. Partial birth abortion is a barbaric practice that crushes the skull of a child in the process of being delivered. Opposing this cannot be proof of being pro-life. Again, it is the bare minimum.
Part of the problem is that many politicians, including Romney, are strangers in the pro-life land. They do not speak the language. They are like American tourists trying to order coffee in Rome. It is a fairly easy thing to do but also easy to fumble unless you do it every day.
Romney stumbled earlier when he said he would accept abortion for the health of the mother, apparently not knowing that the health exception in Doe v. Bolton is what gave us abortion on demand in the first place. Even true-blue pro-lifer Todd Akin stumbled badly on the pro-choice gotcha question of the rape exception. Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock did, too. A few days ago he said a pregnancy from rape was the will of God.
Romney and others could do with serious drilling in Pro-Life Language 101 and they could do worse in learning from Georgette Forney and Serrin Foster, both experts in speaking the kind of pro-life language that appeals to women.
Georgette founded Silent No More Awareness, which encourages women to take their abortion hurt into the public square. They talk quite openly about their abortions and how they were hurt by them; the nightmares, depression, and related pathologies. She points out that abortions are not a matter of empowerment but an act of desperation and the result of abandonment. This brings to us the reality that abortion incurs two victims, the unborn child and the woman.
In the same way, Serrin Foster of Feminists for Life promotes the idea that “women deserve better than abortion,” that women are often abandoned precisely by those who should be protecting and supporting them at a difficult moment. Instead of protecting them, young women are often pressured by family and friends and even Pastors to abort their unborn child.
What Forney and Foster do is to eliminate the false dichotomy between mother and child. Abortion advocates like to pit mother against child, making the mother believe her unborn child is an enemy who wants to take away the mother’s life. In fact, Forney and Foster insist, their destinies are inextricably linked and abortion does nothing to change that and only imposes the death of the child and the mother’s permanent hurt.
Fully catechized by Forney and Foster, Romney may no longer stumble. Asked if he has a legislative plan on abortion, Governor Romney would say, “I believe that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and hope to see it overturned. In the meantime, both through legislation and executive appointments, my administration will help women in their time of need. My administration and I will not abandon them. We will not leave them all alone with that terrible ‘choice.’”
This is the most sophisticated pro-life language there is, and has the added advantage of being a totally foreign language to abortion advocates who prefer women to be isolated and alone in that terrifying little room at Planned Parenthood.