It's Our Turn: Can we just drop the abortion fight?
"You catch more flies with honey than vinegar," a boss once told me.
Setting aside the issue of why anyone would want more flies, let's talk about abortion. And gay marriage.
Abortion opponents have been trying to ban abortion for about as long as gay people have been fighting for the right to get married. In 1970, two men applied for a marriage license in Minnesota, were turned down, sued and lost. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade paved the way for legalized abortion.
Same-sex couples have had the right to marry in the United States since 2015, and earlier in some states. Meanwhile, abortion is still legal.
One cause was the darling of the left. The other, the darling of the right. (Although each cause has had its supporters across the aisle.)
Why has one succeeded and the other, so far, failed?
Part of the answer, at least, comes down to honey vs. vinegar.
Gay people endeared themselves to Americans. Think Ellen. Or Will and Grace. Or Modern Family.
"It's very hard to ... deny rights to those people you adore on television," wrote Tony-winner actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein in Variety in 2015.
The anti-abortion movement, however, has been rattled by sporadic violence — clinic bombings and murders of abortion-providing doctors and clinic staff. It's been not quite three years since a gunman killed three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic. The National Abortion Federation reports that from 2016 to 2017, the number of death threats and threats of harm to clinics nearly doubled.
If the gay-rights movement had taken this direction, if gay people had bombed churches and murdered their opponents, do you think they'd be marching down the aisles today to say "I do"?
Abortion is incredibly divisive, cutting smack through the middle of America, families and friendships included. According to Gallup, 48 percent of Americans consider themselves pro-life, and 48 percent consider themselves pro-choice. While a majority would not want to overturn Roe v. Wade, most support some restrictions, particularly for late-term abortions.
Abortion is also in decline. In 2014, it dropped to levels not seen since before Roe v. Wade. Abortion opponents claim that's because of restrictions it has fought for. That might be part of it, but I suspect better access to birth control has played a much larger role. After all, it wasn't until 1972 that birth control became legal for all Americans, and the birth rate too has plunged in America.
As no fan of abortion, and as a Christian, I say it's time for abortion opponents to back off.
Stop using abortion as a wedge tool to divide Americans. Stop using it as a justification to vote for the most horrible candidates in hopes of packing the U.S. Supreme Court with anti-abortion justices. You might well succeed this year, as Justice Anthony Kennedy just announced he will retire in July. But you are hurting America. You are hurting the church. And for what? You can scold, you can imprison, you can tax, you can take away funding, but you will never, ever end abortion. If it's illegal, it will simply go underground.
Drop the vinegar. Stop using politics as a cudgel to end abortion. Do you think there weren't horrible things happening in Jesus' day? His parents fled to Egypt to escape the murder of innocents. Yet you didn't find Jesus rallying earthly powers to confront evil. He knew a better way.
Abandon force. Choose honey — prayer and persuasion. Spread the Gospel in the way God intended.
Christians, spurn divisive politics.
• • •
"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.