Encounters between prochoice and prolife activists often provide all the ambience of a battlefield. And while the prolife cause is worthy of intense conviction, caustic statements sometimes do as much to entrench our opponents as win them over. That is why we applaud the efforts of the Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation, which has produced two TV ads that present a clear, yet winsome message (CT, April 27, 1992, p. 43).

The ads’ implicit messages consist of thanking those women who choose life. One spot holds up adoption as an alternative to abortion. Another asks couples to carry through with unplanned pregnancies. The ads’ tag line turns the “choice” of the prochoice argument on its head: “Life. What a beautiful choice.”

Reactions from the secular press suggest that the ads are making people think. The Philadelphia Inquirer has run more than one editorial in response, along with a number of letters to the editor. One editorial lauded the spots’ “accent on the positive side of the anti-abortion position.” While some prochoice activists predictably called for a ban on the ads, the spots have generated respect for their ability to provoke discussion while avoiding ideological extremes.

Though subtle persuasion is not the only weapon in our arsenal, perhaps the gently provocative message of these 30-second spots will do as much to conquer the hearts of uncommitted Americans as multiplied hours of picketing and sloganeering. That makes it a strategy worth noting—and imitating.

By Timothy K. Jones.

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