Roe Anniversary: Networking to Take Our Rights
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Sat Jan 21, 2006 at 01:58:01 AM EST
This weekend, tens of thousands of anti-abortion protestors will line the nation's capital as part of an annual weeklong event that marks the anniversary of the court case they most despise --  Roe v. Wade, decided on January 22, 1973.  They will pray and march on Monday, January 23 in the March for Life. President Bush will speak via telephone, same as he did on his first day in office.  

But this is more than a march.  Talk about action -- every religious right organization will have a presence.  There are dinners, lunches, speeches, open houses, conferences, lobbying and lots and lots of networking.  There are even bloggers.  And there are lots of echoes back and forth.  As with most things related to Roe, it is about so much more than Roe. Here are the crossroads for the right wing -- the stark battle over individual rights versus religious determinism, a generous mix of right-wing politics and religion.

A theme for the march this year is: "Roe v. Wade Violates the American Way." The event is described in the language of religious pilgrimage.  The Archdiocese of New York notes:

It has truly evolved into a Pilgrimage of intercessory prayer and public witness for all those victimized by the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion; and for the conversion of those who misguidedly perpetuate it. Young and old from all walks of life and from every part of the country rally together and march down Constitution Ave., stopping at legislative offices along route and ending at the steps of the Supreme Court.

Here are some of the other things the pilgrims will be doing:

On Saturday, January 20, American Collegians for Life will have an all day seminar with speakers Dr. Nigel Cameron of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity ; Frederica Matthewes Green, one of the founders of Feminists for Life; Dr. Gladys Sweeney of The Leadership Institute ; Frank Pavone of Priests for Life (he has a very full schedule for the week, culminating in the famous "Rose Dinner" on the evening of the March - which is the same day that the Judiciary Committee now says it will vote on the nomination of religious right favorite, Samuel Alito, for the Supreme Court.)

At one session is a rep from a college offshoot of the National Right to Life Committee. Also speaking is Austin Ruse, founder of the Culture of Life Foundation, and his wife, Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Senior Fellow for Legal Studies of the Family Research Council , and a former spokesperson for the U.S. Catholic Bishops. (In 1998-99, she was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.)  

Mrs. Ruse will also speak at a separate event sponsored by the Culture of Life Foundation, as will Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America.

Concerned Women for America will have an open house on the day of the March, and so will the Family Research Council.

The Family Research Council will also host the first-ever conference of Pro-life bloggers .

They will be meeting on the morning of January 23 , with a featured speech by blogger Kathryn Jean Lopez from The National Review.

The event is sponsored by ProLifeBlogs, MarchTogether.com, and Charmaine Yoest, the managing editor of the FRC website and blog, and who also maintains her own site, Reasoned Audacity. In December, Yoest was named as one of the 12 evangelical women of the year by Concerned Women for America. Are you hearing the echo?

Some of the bloggers planning to attend are: here. And the group takes pains to thank Alan Keyes for the support of his group, Renew America.

Bloggers for Life are not only bloggers for life, but floggers for the right wing, as this connection with host FRC and Justice Sunday makes clear:

The Family Research Council ... did an exceptional job coordinating the (Justice Sunday) event and Tony Perkins' meaningful call to national prayer was provocative.

An important aspect of the Justice Sunday broadcast for potential and confirmed Blogs4Life attendees is that Bloggers were present, providing live commentary about the events.

Ed Morrisey (Captain's Quarters), Stacy Harp (Mind and Media), La Shawn Barber (La Shawn Barber's Corner), RightWingSparkle and Charmaine Yoest (at the new FRC Blog) provided insight, interaction, commentary and even photos that added value to the evening, reached a potentially unique audience, and generated excitement for those who could not attend.

Bloggers do make a difference and the use of the blogosphere has great potential to uniquely communicate and motivate action for the lives of the unborn.

The bloggers are only meeting in person for a few hours before heading over to the March for Life.

But they don't really need to march together -- they're already networked.  The marchers who blog together?  The bloggers who march together ...?

This global rally for the religious right has no counterpart by progressives. Sure, there will be pro-choice events to mark the Roe anniversary and town meetings here and there, but we, too, need a focal point -- a time and a place and day to network and plan. For them -- and us -- it's not just about January 22 ... it's about November 7, too.




Display:
To understand why the anti-abortion battle, the anti-Roe battle, is about so much more -- in fact, is about all individual liberties --reference this comment by William Kristol in the Commentary, 1997:


'The truth is that abortion is today the bloody crossroads of American politics. It is where judicial liberation (from the Constitution), sexual liberation (from traditional mores) and women's liberation (from natural distinctions) come together. It is the focal point for liberalism's simultaneous assault on self-government, morals and nature. So, challenging the judicially imposed regime of abortion-on-demand is key to a conservative reformation in politics, in morals, and in beliefs.

And this apt commentary on Kristol's statement above by Andrew Sullivan, written back in Clinton's day.  It can be hard to read, knowing where we are now with two Bush appointees soon to be on the Supreme Court.


In the 1980's, the outlawing of abortion was framed in the somewhat liberal terms of saving human life, and protecting human rights. And that is why a smattering of left-leaning intellectuals also signed on as anti-abortion advocates. But in the 1990's, the conservative emphasis has changed. Now the banning of abortion is linked primarily to an attack on the Supreme Court's judicial activism in other areas as well (prayer in schools, women's equality and gay rights foremost among them) and to the more general sexual liberty of the society as a whole. Abortion is central to a reassertion of what Kristol called ''traditional mores'' and of ''natural distinctions'' between the sexes. It is not unrelated to the Lewinsky obsession and the anti-gay crusade. In fact, it is the anchor of both.


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I've been making the rounds of people Blogging for Choice, and one blogger, Chris Mooney unveils the real motivation of the pro-life crowd:

   Conservative Christians are cultural traditionalists who are trying to impose a larger moral vision upon society. They're also complete absolutists in their thinking. This leads them to oppose contraception out of the fear that it promotes promiscuity even though wider availability of contraception would nevertheless also decrease the number of abortions (Plan B emergency contraception being a perfect example).

    In short, the anti-abortionists aren't necessarily who you think they are: They are far more radical, and way out of touch with mainstream American culture, which has long since accepted the notion of women regulating their own fertility.

Another blogger, Pandagon, puts it this way:

The important thing to remember about the anti-choice movement is not only are they anti-sex, they are specifically anti-woman. (And generally anti-gay, though that's a whole `nother post.) Like Chris says here, it's about having a very narrow view of what's moral-specifically, adherence to strict gender roles is "morality"-and it's motivated by a belief that they are entitled to force their views on others through the law.

There you have it. It's all about gender-hate and sex-hate. And since they don't help the mothers of the babies that they 'save', it's especially about punishing women for having sex.

by Lorie Johnson on Mon Jan 23, 2006 at 10:18:40 AM EST

The blogs remind me of a joke by Jay Leno from about a year ago.  

"There's a report in England," he said, "that there's a new male contraceptive pill.  But some people say it's not right because it will lead to more promiscuity."

Kind of puts it into perspective.

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Thanks for the intro to those blogs.

This line about the cultural conservatives particularly grabbed me: "adherence to strict gender roles is "morality".  

I think that very few agree with them on contraception and women's roles.  So how do they get so much sway?  Is it that old saying, you can fool all of the people some of the time?

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From the Washington Post, this report on the first-ever meeting of pro-life bloggers at the Family Research Council:


Charmaine Yoest, a vice president at the Family Research Council, told a morning gathering of 40 antiabortion bloggers that the demise of Roe would mean a battle within each state over whether abortion should be legal -- a more localized, grass-roots fight.

"Consensus is building that we are moving into a post- Roe future, and we need to be ready," she said.

The pendulum swing, she said, is reflected in the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. Neither man is a guaranteed antiabortion vote in any court case, Yoest noted, and even if both men vote to overturn Roe , the balance on the court is still 5 to 4 in favor of the ruling.

But society is clearly more open to the idea that Roe was a bad ruling on constitutional grounds, Yoest said, and is generally becoming more concerned about ethical ramifications in such areas as stem cell research and euthanasia.

"You're seeing an increasing feeling that Roe was poorly decided. And Alito's confirmation will be a watershed moment in that direction," she said.

The bloggers, a mix of middle-aged men in suits and young women who are college or graduate school students, said they are part of an increased sophistication in the movement that speaks to young people today.

"I think there is definitely a cultural shift going on. People are seeing that the questions are deeper cultural questions, not just political ones," said Johannes L. Jacobse, a priest who came from Naples, Fla., and runs the site OrthodoxyToday.org. "I think in the next couple years people will be able to say: 'I am a pro-life Democrat.' "

His blog is among those on ProLifeBlogs.com, which links to 500 sites, its organizer said at the conference.



by cyncooper on Tue Jan 24, 2006 at 04:38:55 PM EST

Stokely Baksh filed this story for UPI on nti-abortion bloggers:

Technology is playing an integral role in delivering the anti-abortion message, say those in the movement, but better communication between bloggers as well as firsthand reporting is needed, agreed prominent anti-abortion bloggers Monday at their first annual conference.

Anti-abortion bloggers convened at the Family Research Council to discuss strategic uses of the blogosphere to communicate Christian anti-abortion messages prior to the 33rd annual March for Life in Washington.

A growing number of anti-abortion blogs have joined the abortion debate, promoting the views of the movement against legalized abortion and playing watchdog to abortion-rights activists, legislation and abortion clinics.

Networking among anti-abortion bloggers through technology will counter the portrayal of the anti-abortion movement in mainstream media, according to Charmaine Yoest, vice president for external relations at the Family Research Council and managing editor of the daily blog www.FRCBlog.com.

Yoest compared the anti-abortion blogging movement to a line of high-tech 21st-century water buckets putting out a large fire burning since the Roe vs. Wade decision was passed down in 1973.

"We form an association, that's the American way," said Yoest, one of three hosts for the event.

Emphasizing the impact of technology in actively promoting the anti-abortion stance, she said more women on both sides of the debate were becoming more conscious of the healthy fetus via technology including sonograms.

"We are headed into a whole new era of abortion public policy," Yoest said.

Aside from the abortion debate, bloggers also addressed concerns of effective messages and network building within their blogging community.

"The blogosphere, I sometimes think, is the ultimate Darwinian experiment -- survival of the fittest," said Kathryn Lopez, syndicated columnist and editor of The Corner at National Review Online, mentioning the blogosphere was an amazing medium but that there was no science to the success of a blog.

Lopez, who was the keynote speaker, was unable to attend the conference in person but phoned in.

However, she insists individual bloggers should pinpoint and contact notable bloggers who would be interested in their posts, pitching them their site and any specific posts, rather than just sending a link.

"The world needs more reporting," said Lopez, noting that anti-abortion blogs could gain more attention through reporting than commentating due to the abundance of instant pundits.

"Tim" of ProLifeBlogs.com (who requested anonymity), another host of the event, added that the blogging community could also become more effective by providing solid messages in principles, writing firsthand experiences, engaging in meaningful discussions with the abortion-rights culture, collaborating with others and partnering with anti-abortion organizations.

But the Internet also offers bloggers an opportunity to discuss other issues associated with the abortion debate.

According to Peter Shinn, another host and blogger of March Together for Life, blogs are a good way to speak about God and anti-abortion bloggers, recognizing that most anti-abortion individuals he has met have been Christians, he said.

"Move Together is growing, but the main focus now is the pro-life unity," said Shinn, who is also promoting ProLifeUnity.com, which sends out calls for support for member efforts including the Monthly Call for Life.

Moreover, freelance writer and blog consultant La Shawn Barber (lashawnbarber.com) noted the blogosphere provides a good forum to discuss race and the anti-abortion movement, an issue that she says needs to be addressed more.

A number of international bloggers attended the event such as "Auds" (who also asked to remain anonymous), blogger of realitycheckdotie.blogspot.com and a student from Ireland who came to Washington for the first time this week.

According to Auds, the Irish media have not reported adequately on the issue. And with the recent emergence of political blogs, Auds predicts more anti-abortion bloggers will appear as more individuals adapt to technology with the introduction of broadband, she said.

Joseph P. Gillin, 50, of the blog Life at the Frontier (lifeatthefrontier.blogspot.com), says blogging is a medium in which bloggers can pass information, educate the public and communicate with other bloggers.

"It will help turn the tide, raising awareness about the dignity of human life and protecting it," said Gillin, who began blogging almost three years ago. "And it's a healthy progress, finding more sources of information than the few networks I grew up with."

Meanwhile, Mary Worthington, 23, of The Revolution(myheartsrevolution.blogspot.com), said she posts three to five times a week writing about the anti-abortion movement, contraceptives, human sexuality and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

"We need to avoid the temptation of only blogging among each other but rather we need to communicate with the general public who really needs to hear our message," Worthington said. "The mainstream media portrays us as extremists, but the blogging movement provides a lot of factual information on the movement."




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