Friday, March 12, 2010

Comparing the gay rights and prolife movements

Michael Gerson writes,
Pro-life activists have made far less legal progress than have advocates for gay rights, in part because the courts have played an active role in discouraging democracy on abortion. But it is a remarkable achievement that 37 years after Roe v. Wade attempted to settle the abortion question, it remains unsettled. Fifty-two percent of Americans believe that having an abortion is "morally wrong." Fifty-three percent oppose public funding in health-reform legislation. The provision of abortion remains stigmatized within the medical profession. And the abortion rate in America has dropped significantly since the 1980s....

But the pro-life movement also shifted its political strategy, moving away from judgmental moral arguments toward a language of civil rights aspiration. Pro-life activists and politicians, influenced by Catholic thinkers such as Richard John Neuhaus, began talking of an expanding circle of legal inclusion and protection that includes the unborn -- a welcoming society that values the vulnerable. In this narrative, abortion is not only wrong but also unjust....

But so far the gay rights movement has succeeded for many of the same reasons that the pro-life movement (to a lesser extent) has succeeded. Both have taken sometimes abstract, theoretical arguments and humanized them. Both have moved away from extreme-sounding moralism (or anti-moralism) and placed their cause in the context of civil rights progress. Whatever your view on the application of these arguments, this is the way social movements advance in America.

1 comment:

  1. One big difference between the pro-life movement and the gay rights movement is that gays can advocate for themselves, whereas unborn children cannot. Gays are seen; the unborn rarely are. When comparing the pro-life movement to other movements, remember that major difference!