Message and Meaning in a Chaotic Time

By Kathryn Jean Lopez Published on February 4, 2019

Not everything is about Donald Trump, the next presidential election or politics in general. Not everything has to do with right and left and Republicans and Democrats.

When it comes to abortion, there seems to be a new breeze blowing, bringing moments of clarity and even newfound transparency.

A New Transparency

It started with the new president of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, talking about how providing abortion access remains part of the organization’s core mission. She seemed unashamed to say the a-word, a word that for years pro-choice activists have largely suppressed, opting for euphemisms instead.

Then there was Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who stripped away legal protections for babies who survive abortions. There’s really no euphemistic way to look away from that.

Now that doesn’t mean people won’t try. The governor of Virginia, who is a medical doctor, was asked about something similar being proposed in his state. He talked about “comfort care” and a decision made between the doctor and the parents. This is the darkness we’ve gotten ourselves into letting abortion be decided by our political parties.

Americans are More Pro-Life Than Politics Would Make it Seem

Poll numbers consistently suggest that Americans are more pro-life than our politics would make it seem. People who are pro-choice want to know that a woman in a difficult situation has options. Take a look at more than a decade’s worth of analysis from the Knights of Columbus and polls they’ve commissioned and you’ll find that there are some real opportunities for common ground on this issue.

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Democrats and Republicans can work together on ways to help women choose adoption, help families adopt, make sure there is informed consent, and so many other issues that don’t have the mobilizing force of the same-old politics, but would actually be the right thing to do, and turn the heat of the debate down (which would also do a lot to change the polarized and increasingly toxic culture of our politics and society in general, I’d argue).


Something that could upend the culture of stagnation and screaming that surrounds abortion may just be an upcoming movie called Unplanned. It’s the story of Abby Johnson, who ran a Planned Parenthood clinic and believed she was helping women, but walked away when she had to participate in an ultrasound-guided abortion. The movie will show what she saw β€” a baby pulling away as the doctor’s instruments closed in. She couldn’t look away, and we shouldn’t either. This could launch conversations like nothing else.

Help from Sisters of Life

I always like to talk about the Sisters of Life because not only are they 100 or so women who are completely dedicated to helping people embrace life, but they have a network of some 15,000 people who will help, in a myriad of ways, a woman who is pregnant or families in need of help. Just a few weeks ago, on their way to the March for Life, two sisters told me their stories of a woman they ran into at a drive-through who needed mattresses for her kids. Done.

The fact of the matter is, there are people out there who walk the pro-life walk. They are reasonable. They provide solutions. And they show us a way out of a culture that celebrates death, convenience and selfishness. One such person is Cheryl Calire, who founded and runs the Mother Teresa maternity home in Buffalo, New York, a place of welcome for all mothers in need of help, and a living rebuke to Gov. Cuomo’s policies and evasions.

I think the Democrats’ doubling down on abortion extremism will backfire for them. Those who choose to embrace the opportunity for something more life giving than a pink Freedom Tower to celebrate abortion expansion will be a winning ticket for something much more enduring than an election.


Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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