“Kids would be alive today in Newtown, Connecticut if the law that we’re proposing today were in place on December 14th of last year. It’s as simple as that.”
-- Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaking at a press conference held to announce a proposal for a new ban on some kinds of rifles.
Abortion foes from across the land are gathered in Washington today in a show of strength, and may rival the number of Americans who came to town for President Obama’s inauguration on Monday.
It has been 40 years since the Supreme Court decreed that a woman’s right to privacy barred the government from preventing her from choosing to end the life of her unborn child in the first six months of pregnancy.
In that time, the movement in opposition to elective abortion has become one of the most potent political forces in the land. As the hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington today for the March for Life will show, the members of this movement are devoted and determined.
The results are impressive.
One of the two main political parties is deeply tied to the cause, with opposition to abortion a litmus test for candidates on the Republican side. Those who believe that women should have unrestricted access to elective abortion are not welcome now in the GOP.
State after state has found new ways to restrict and block the practice of elective abortion. In many red states, lawmakers have essentially driven out doctors willing to conduct elective abortions.
Public sentiment continues to grow against abortion as younger Americans, who may be more socially liberal than their parents’ generation on most things, increasingly reject the idea that abortions should be available on demand.
But the “pro-life” movement also has to face some hard facts.
While the number of abortions in America has decreased, government and independent estimates suggest that there are more than 1.2 million abortions each year, and in some regions the numbers are growing.
The Centers for Disease Control reported that in New York City in 2009 there were 719 abortions for every 1,000 live births.
And Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, continues to receive huge federal subsidies.
So after 40 years of marches and protests, prayer vigils and political action, public relations and private pleading, the practice of elective abortion is still going very strong.
That’s because it has very loyal defenders.
Establishment press outlets shy away from discussing abortion in part, no doubt, because of bias and in part because the backlash for reporting on the scope of abortion is intense. Thus, when the discussion turns to the topic, the discourse occurs in euphemisms and vagaries.
And the other main political party is intolerant of any restrictions on abortion. Obama himself has supported even the highly controversial practice of “partial-birth abortion,” the gruesomeness of which caused even some staunch “pro-choice” activists to turn away.
Elective abortion is such an article of faith on the left because it was tied at its inception to women’s liberation and equality. Proponents of the right to elective abortion talk about “reproductive choices” and “a woman’s body.” While opponents are focused on the baby itself and his or her right to life, proponents speak almost exclusively of a woman’s freedom and equality.
The bond between feminism and elective abortion may one day pass as attitudes change, but as long as the two are intertwined, the Democratic Party, which is predominantly female, will continue to champion what its members call “a woman’s right to choose.”
Democrats are now undertaking a crusade of their own to enact a federal ban on some guns and ultimately impose stiff restrictions on firearms overall. As they do so, they should look to what the opponents of elective abortion have endured in these past 40 years.
Just as it sounds appealing to many people to ban guns in an effort to end mass shootings, it sounds appealing to many to ban abortion. Saving lives, especially vulnerable ones, is always appealing.
But just as the proponents of the right to elective abortion have fought fiercely to defend a practice that many find appalling, the proponents of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms will not surrender easily.
Democrats are currently imbued with righteous indignation against what they call “the gun lobby” and establishment press outlets are in unified agreement that banning guns would prevent future mass shootings.
But as the debate wears on and as the realities of the causes and solutions proposed seeps out, that ardor may fade. Hard, complicated and inconclusive are not great selling points for a movement. And just as abortion foes wonder how the nation can slumber on with what they view to be legal mass murder continues, gun foes may one day wonder how the nation could not be in a state of sustained outrage over gun crime.
If those who wish to ban guns want to get the job done, they will have to find resolve equal to or greater than the hundreds of thousands of deeply committed March for Life participants standing on the Mall in the bitter cold this morning, four decades after Roe v. Wade.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“And the fact that it denied for so long to go back to the other hearings, that there was terror involvement or a way to cover it up and pretend it didn't happen in North Africa, is an indication how much they have had their head in the sand and how much they lived off the killing of bin Laden as a way to tell themselves that the war on terror was over.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.