Pro-life statistics: Do they matter?
I got an e-mail from a friend of mine. I’ll call him Josh, because … well … that’s his real name. Anyway, Josh was preparing for a presentation and he wanted to confirm that abortions exceeded live births in Washington, DC. Josh is a great guy, but he needed me to tell him why abortion statistics, even if correctly remembered and dutifully repeated, do nothing to change anybody’s mind. Here’s my reply:
Thanks for being in touch. This answer to your question is that I don’t know. I just don’t latch onto that kind of data because I’m not really sure it matters. If you were able to get somebody to learn that fact (the ratio of abortions to births inside the DC city limits is greater than 1.0), I doubt it would change anybody’s behavior very much. You’d get a few nods from people in the room, but that’s about it. When we get all worked up about explaining the sheer numbers of abortions (1.2 million a year, 3300 a day, 1 of every 3 or 4, etc), we start to sound like anti-tax/anti-deficit activists who talk about stacking dollar bills to the moon and back. That stuff gets nods from people who are already care, but it doesn’t change their level of participation and it makes everyone else’s eyes glaze over.
Think about it this way. If “only” 5 million Jews had been killed in the death camps, would it have been any less horrifying? For the million who didn’t die, I suppose it would be. But for most of us, the fact that death camps existed pegs our horror meter already, and the statistic (whether 6 million or 5 million or 7 million) makes no difference in our response to it.
The problem with most people’s response to abortion is not that they are insufficiently horrified about millions of abortion. The problem is that most people are insufficiently horrified about every single abortion. In the minds of most people, abortion is a nominal evil, or the lesser of evils, or a necessary evil, or an evil that is so entrenched in society that nothing can be done about it anyway. Many Christians think it’s just another “cause” or “mission activity” among many, all of which cry out for their attention. Until this changes, we have no hope of winning.
To give you an idea of how the lack of horror about abortion affects our response to it, consider the budgeting of money, staff time, and volunteer time at almost every “pro-life” church. They spend vastly more resources on professional music presentations every Sunday (led by paid staff), church-run sports programs (organized by paid staff), etc., than they spend on stopping the killing of our own children. They might send a couple of thousand dollars (out of a multi-million dollar budget) to a Pregnancy Resourc Center (PRC)—money well-spent, to be sure—but not much else. People who attend those churches are having abortions in astonishing numbers. And why are the members so complicit and/or complacent? Because nobody has ever shown them the truth of abortion. So they rationalize their way over to the clinic and hope the memory of it goes away. Or they just do nothing. They give a little money to a PRC and think nothing more about it. What would happen if these “pro-life” churches started acting like they believe abortion really is killing a baby? What if they were horrified? What if they assembled as many people to pray in front of the abortion clinics every week as they assemble for choir practice? (What if they held their choir practice at the clinic? … Now there’s an idea.) They will never do this until they are sufficiently horrified about every single abortion that takes place. Pictures are more important than statistics.
I can tell you that if the average “pro-life” church were as dedicated to stopping abortion as they are to promoting their church choir, this would have been over long ago. That is why it is so important to force Christians and others to look at a picture of a single abortion. When people get a grasp of how horrifying each single abortion truly is, only then will the statistics start to mean anything.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010 at 3:41 pm and is filed under Pro Life Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.