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Recently I was invited to speak at a fundraiser organized by a Michigan right-to-life group, which had asked me to reflect on this question: "If the pro-life case is so strong, why aren't we winning?"

Since the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the pro-life movement has labored mightily to overturn abortion on demand. It has achieved some victories: a restriction against partial-birth abortions, some parental notification laws, and a couple of significant court appointments.

Even so, the United States still has some of the most permissive abortion laws in the world. The pro-life movement has made some progress in its arguments, but has failed to put even a dent in Roe v. Wade and successive rulings. Three and a half decades after Roe, the abortion casualty toll approaches a staggering 50 million.

The consensus among those gathered at the fundraiser was that the pro-life movement needs to educate more Americans about the grim reality of abortion. As one guest told me, "Most American women who go in for abortions simply don't realize that the unborn are human persons with rights." I disagree; I believe most women know this instinctively. But even if they don't know this or are unsure, they still have to weigh the risks of the procedure. And in a case of this importance, a case involving life and death, one has to give the unborn the benefit of the doubt. If a hunter sees something move behind a branch and isn't sure whether it's an animal or a human, is it reasonable for him to go ahead and shoot?

Factor in politics, and the mystery deepens. It seems bizarre that many who claim the political virtue of compassion are champions of abortion rights. These people are able to cry tears for just about every vulnerable group ...

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September 2009

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