The March for Life, despite featuring President Trump as the main speaker, was nearly buried in the Google News Feed this morning. While I was digging details out of the different articles, it became very obvious that different language was used by different sides to describe each other.
For example, NPR’s headline reads:
A local ABC station out of Pennsylvania had:
It wasn’t hard to see why. The NPR article linked Trump and being “anti-abortion.” Its deliberately linking him to opposing something, which is a negative. We are hard wired to have issues with negative people. If you sit around someone who is whining a lot, you get tired of it. The ABC station has a positive link, with people headed to something “historic” that features “life.”
It’s not just these two headlines. A search of CNN revealed the top headline as:
…focused here on Trump wanting power. And Huffpost, never dissapointing me, posted this:
…insisting on inserting the “anti” portion, removing the President’s title and only saying he’s “attending,” a passive action.
This sounds like semantics. And who cares what others say? But its important, because it frames discussions we have with people. I see it when my kids tell me what their teachers push at their classrooms. I hear it when people bring up different subjects. Every conversation starts from a person’s level of understanding, and that, too often, comes from how they read an article. The article’s title often primes a reader to read it in a certain way. And if the person simply browses the title, even worse.
Although pro-life movements have made a lot of ground, they have an uphill battle against the media. They will have to change to continue to expand, especially when President Trump eventually leaves. Conveniently, Democrats have made abortion a binary issue to be in the party, and essentially no Democrat can openly support the pro-life movement. But abortion, which is a key issue for many conservatives, isn’t so for many liberal voters.
To change that, the pro-life movement should frame its movement as a scientific one, add adoption reform and also push for expanded maternity leave.
Any browsing of pro-life pictures will inevitably feature a christian cross, and likely reference the Catholic Church. That’s not a bad thing, but with so many young people not identifying with a religion, it will only serve to put the movement in a corner. Pro-life organizations should focus on adding lots of scientists to their numbers. Focus on how advances in science enable us to save babies when they are tiny. The fact that babies at the 22-24 week point can live outside the womb is a powerful scientific advancement that nobody can argue with. Seeing pictures of these children in the NICU is powerful imagery. An ultrasound picture can never compare to this. Doing this begins to make the pro-life movement the movement best linked to science, and adds further legitimacy.
Adoption reform would be an easy add to the pro-life movement. I know several people that have navigated the adoption process, and it is sad when its easier to adopt a baby from Africa than from the US. How can we call ourselves a modern society when we run good families through the ringer, especially financially, to adopt a child that needs a good home? Making adoption easier complements the pro-life movement, removing one more reason to kill a growing child. This is an easy vilification of an antiquated process, a reform that is needed, and a chance to add people who are on the fence about abortion into the pro-life movement.
While the media continues to paint pro-life as the “anti-woman” movement, the last easy win for the pro-life movement would be to advocate for maternity leave reform. More women are working outside the home, but struggle to balance having a family with a career. Children should be breast feeding for at least six months and require a lot of attention during that time. Giving women that opportunity, and finding a way to not punish businesses for that (perhaps some tax incentives?) is another great way to both remove pro-life opposition and bring more people to the pro-life side.
It’s sad when our modern society has to fight for basics like the right to live, but its a fight that should be fought.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.