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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Separating signal from noise

My column in today's National Post, about Preston Manning's endorsement of the low-key, service-oriented, compassionate pro-life approach adopted by Signal Hill, has been generally well received by pro-life activists across the country. But I'm also hearing that some view it as a criticism of their efforts.

Personally, I'm a big-tent kind of a guy, and I wouldn't want to put all pro-life groups' eggs in one basket. Nevertheless, I'm a big supporter of Signal Hill's fresh, educational, non-confrontational approach, and I think it's got real merit.

I'd be interested in knowing what Shotgun readers -- especially those who consider themselves to be pro-life -- think is the best strategy to thwart abortion.

Posted by Terry O'Neill on May 21, 2009 in Current Affairs | Permalink


Terry, I am pro-life and at first did not like the Signal Hill site, but the more I read it the more I liked it. I don't know in the end if it is the best way to persuade people to not have abortions, or to become pro-life. However, surely there are people who can be persuaded and this may be an excellent site for that.

The more angles we take to convince people to become pro-life the better. If this web site works, who can argue with it?

Posted by: TM | 2009-05-21 10:17:08 PM

The significant shift to the pro-life movement in America is reflected in several recent polls. Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll has pro-lifers ahead 49%-43%. Pew Research poll has both groups now effectively tied. The 51%-42% Pro-life lead comes from Gallups Values poll that is done once a year. Also, Gallup has a seperate daily tracking poll that continues to have the pro-life side leading by 7 or 8 points. In addition, the Gallup Values poll shows that Americans find abortion a morally wrong act by a 56%-36% margin(last year 54%-40% thought they were immoral). Strangely, for several years now, the Value poll has shown that over 50% of Americans consider abortion immoral(though only now are they starting to identify as pro-life). So, there is sufficent evidence to point to a pro-life polling bump.
The question is why is this happening in America? One, all the polls show that the under 30 crowd poll more heavily pro-life than either the 30-44 and 45-64 age groups. The under 30 crowd has grown up with abortion and opposition to it being more publicly aired. I still remember how growing up in the 1980's, pro-lifers were often portrayed as religious radicals. I never heard much from the pro-life side(not even the local Catholic churches or orthodox temples) until they seemed to become more vocal in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Another reason might be technology. Ultrasounds are more widely available and the imaging has improved immensely. It is a little harder to write the fetus off as just playdoh when you see a face, toes, and fingers. Third, a lot of pro-life rallies now include women speakers who have had abortions and come to regret it. These women discuss the emotional scars that are often left by abortions. I hope that these poll numbers are showing a real trend. I pray that abortion becomes as politically unpopular here as gun control has become(ex: Carrying concealed guns in national parks recently approved 67-29 in U.S. Senate and 279-147 in House of Representatives. All Republicans and many Democrats(27 senators and 105 representatives voted for the measure).

Posted by: David | 2009-05-21 10:28:24 PM

If you want women who have unplanned pregnancies to have the courage and the strength to not abort -- and instead chose life, then adoption needs to be promoted much better.

I went through the process -- because I had already made up my mind about the issue, and it was the only logical thing for me to do. But there is so much about how adoption is handled that is absolutely disgusting.

Lawyers who have craftily lobbyied and written the laws on adoption, and who specialize in it -- are absolutely depraved.

There is an entire industry that is set up to prey upon pregnant women - from the minute that they first look for professional guidance in the process. The social worker that I ended up working with said that she had encountered so many horror situations of adoption industry professional manipulating pregnant women, preying upon their guilt and fears and shame... that it's like watching lambs being led to the slaughter.

The mythology pervades that birthmothers often back out of an adoption. In reality -- when certain elements of the adoption are added -- the actual occurence of this kind of thing (which is what freaks out so many prospective adoptive parents) is so minimal as to be laughable.

The reality of the situation for most birthmothers is that they often times, after meeting the desperate adoptive mothers, who have gone through absolute hell to try and have a baby - find themselves so overwhelmed with compassion for the adoptive mothers that they feel like they are committing an incredible betrayal if they have second thoughts. Birthmothers will feel so very guilty for being so easily able to have a child, while another woman suffers so much because they can't.

Lawyers and adoption agencies will rake in tens of thousands of dollars - and then raise their profits by doing things on the cheap with respect to making sure the birthmother gets through the process. -- An example.. it's common practice for lawyers to tell birthmothers to travel to a state to give birth,and then convince them (illegaly) that it's ok to apply for government assistance for their hospital bill--- when the law stipulates that this IS a cost to be bourne by the adoptive parents. It's just a common part of doing business for adoptive parents to save 7-10 thousand dollars, by getting the state to fund the birth procedure. By the way -- it's illegal to do this. Move to a state to give birth and immediately apply for state-health care.... you have to live in a state for a certain number of months and actually BE a resident to apply for health coverage. Lying on the forms that the lawyers expect you to fill out - even if a lawyer tells you to do so.. is fraud...

Oh -and now that the birth mother had implicated themselves in fraud - at the advice of a lawyer -- it's easy to play more emotional blackmail games with them. Like..say --if the mother decides to change her mind, - the lawyer can then threaten to expose that she committed fraud on the form. She may keep her baby - but she could go to jail.

That kind of thing goes on... a lot more than anybody cares to think of.

If adoption was not so shrouded in sick ideas-- and if the industry was not so sleazy -- and myths about adoption weren't so prevelant -- I firmly believe that more women would opt for adoption instead of abortion.

Posted by: MW | 2009-05-22 3:42:57 AM

Such a weepy, emotional missive, MW. Telling us that somethig goes on "more than anybody cares to think of" is not the same as saying it's commonplace, or likely. There are crooked real estate lawyers, too--does that mean buying a house condemns one to the emotional wringer?

The fact that the birth mother is allowed to change her mind at all is a disgrace. Once you put your name on a contract, then that ought to end the matter, unless you can prove undue coercion or fraud. And if babies were borne by men, you can be sure that they would NOT be allowed to renege. Society expects more of men than it does of women.

Tell me, how do you ever expect your gender to be accepted by men as equals, when its first, strongest inclination is to play the victim and demand special protections and exemptions every time they encounter something that makes them want to go boo-hoo?

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2009-05-22 6:54:22 AM

Although I am not pro-life in the sense that I believe abortion should be illegal, I do, however, believe the morality behind the decision to have most abortions to be questionable.

Having said that, I think the best way to convince women to not have abortions is to give them the honest facts. For example, information on the negative psychological affects of abortion on some women.

Posted by: Charles | 2009-05-22 1:11:07 PM

A fifth poll with a pro-life lead has just come out. The poll was conducted on May 17-18, 2009 by a firm called the Polling Company( the poll was commissioned by Americans United for Life but the polling company itself is considered professional and unbiased). The poll's results are interesting! The first question asked people to identify themselves as pro-life or pro-choice. The result was 47%-45% for pro-life. Now what's really fascinating is a second question which asked the participant to state their exact position on abortion based on a number of choices(3 pro-life leaning choices and 3 pro-abortion leaning choices). The poll found 10% support a ban for all circumstances, another 16% only want abortion legal to save the mother's life, and another 29% only want abortion legal in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. This comes to 55% of the polling sample that wants abortion extremely limited(and definitely not on demand). In turn, three pro-abortion leaning positions were offered. The results were 7% support for unrestricted abortion during the entire 9 months, 8% for unrestricted abortion during the first 6 months, and 26% support for unrestricted abortions during the first 3 months. So, 41% of the participants chose one of these three unrestricted positions. The numbers seem to suggest that even some Americans who identify as pro-abortion are in reality pro-life in their positions.
Other fascinating tidbits from the poll involve questions asked about a potential Obama Supreme Court nominee. 82% opposed a justice who supported partial birth abortion(ban was upheld by Supreme Court in 2006). 71% opposed a justice that would support public funding of abortions(on federal level, public funding has been illegal for about 30 years).69% oppose a justice who opposes parental consent laws for underaged abortions. Finally, 75% opposed a justice who would support the Freedom of Choice Act(which some leftist Democrats are pushing. This law would strike down all federal and state level abortion restrictions and make our abortion laws like Canada's.)
The truth is that Americans want abortion legal but extremely restricted. Roe vs. Wade should probably be struck down and the decision handed back to the states(the states were adjusting their laws in the time period between 1968-1973 when Roe was decided)! Some states like Texas would limit abortions to life of the mother, rape, and incest cases. More liberal ones like Massachusetts would allow it on demand for either the first 3 or 6 month period. Personally, I would hope that most states follow the Texas model!

Posted by: Jeff | 2009-05-22 2:54:46 PM


Why don't you put a sock in it you disgusting pig.

Nobody cares Shane.


Nobody at all.

Posted by: MW | 2009-05-22 6:28:52 PM

Any by the way -

There is NO legal way to enter into a *contract* to give up your child - before that child is born.

So what you are talking about doesn't even exist you ignorant fuck-twat.

Posted by: MW | 2009-05-22 6:30:44 PM

There's a choice women make everyday that is hurtful to them. It causes trauma, social stigmatization and even cancer...That choice is smoking. But I think most people recognize that people have a right to choose wrong things for their body.

If you argue that abortion is wrong for the same reasons that smoking is wrong - because it hurts the person making the choice - it becomes very difficult to make the case that unborn life should be treated with the same respect as born life.

Notice on their website and in their written materials how many times unborn humans are mentioned. Not many times. That's such a travesty considering the scientific and philosophical strength of the pro-life movement when it comes to arguing for the unborn's value.

Signal Hill and other pro-life groups that prioritize improving the image of pro-lifers may succeed in improving that image - but that doesn't mean they'll succeed in saving lives.

Nobody wants to be told that they are wrong, let alone that they are killing their own infants so it seems unlikely that you can speak the truth about abortion AND be liked. Look up Ghandi, Martin Luther King or even Jesus to see how popular it is to speak the truth in love.

And that doesn't mean there's not a place for Signal Hill's approach and fresh thinking, especially considering the sorry state some pro-life groups are in. What it does mean is that they, just like the rest of us in pro-life trenches, need to be vigilant in ensuring we prioritize making abortion unthinkable rather than ourselves, likable.

Posted by: Canbuhay | 2009-05-25 9:52:53 AM

MW, we applaud you for a very brave and candid post. Adoption is a multimillion dollar industry that attorneys and other brokers have sought to overthrow, and there are a host of evils committed under the guise of the "best interests of a child."

Adoption is not a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of unplanned pregnancy, and that seems to be a concept that cretins like Shane don't "get."

It was a nineteenth century thinker named Rabbi Sofer who said that "no woman is required to build the world by destroying herself." Placing a child for adoption can be a very noble choice, when it's done the right way and for the right reasons.

Still, women who contemplate adoption must have the right to exit those plans if they prove to be unfounded, and men who cannot carry a pregnancy should recognize that they have no earthly idea how painful it is to lose a child to adoption, even under the best of circumstances.

Posted by: AbrazoAdoption | 2009-05-26 5:17:01 PM

I completely support the approach that Signal Hill is taking towards abortion and appreciated your article. I have been looking for a group such as this in Calgary where I live so I could volunteer and be an advocate for this issue and be a part of the sensitive approach that Signal Hill is initiating.

Posted by: kira watts | 2009-06-30 8:24:38 PM

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