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Thursday, Jan 17 2013 11:00 PM

MARYLEE SHRIDER: 'Extremists' no more: Pro-life position has taken root in US

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    Marylee Shrider

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Of all the rhetoric to come out of our recent presidential election, none surprised me more than the notion that I, and countless pro-lifers like me, are "extremists."

The word was bandied about over and over in the media, suggesting that those who value the lives of unborn children are a small minority, a fringe group of religious nuts raging a war on women. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Half of all Americans now identify themselves as pro-life, according to a 2012 Gallup poll, while only 41 percent identify themselves as pro-choice, a historical low since Gallup began asking the question 18 years ago. Those findings were echoed in other national surveys as well.

Why the shift? The polls don't say, but I suspect Americans are slowly awakening to the truth that abortion is unjust and inhumane. If that is true, the pro-choice movement has only itself to blame.

When abortion was declared legal in 1973, it was with the promise that the procedure would be safe and rare. In the years since, pro-choicers have clamored for zero abortion restrictions, culminating in the loss of 55 million unborn babies, an any-time-for-any-reason abortion philosophy, and, most recently, a federal mandate forcing faith-based hospitals, universities and businesses to violate their consciences by including coverage of abortion-inducing drugs in their employee insurance packages.

Simply put, the pro-choice movement has gone too far. Further than civilized people are willing to go.

Even some who support abortion have concluded that efforts to normalize the procedure have backfired. In Time magazine's stunningly biased cover story this week, Frances Kissling, an ardent abortion rights activist and former president of Catholics for Choice, said, "When people hear us say abortion is just another medical procedure, they react with shock. Abortion is not like having your appendix out. It involves the termination of an early form of human life. That deserves some gravitas."

At least Kissling acknowledges the lives destroyed through abortion are human, a big leap for many in the pro-choice movement. And how magnanimous of her to admit that the destruction of human lives -- well over a million each year in the U.S. alone -- should be approached with "some gravitas."

Included in that growing half of Americans who embrace life are teenagers and young adults. For them, the womb is not the mystery it was to their elders four decades ago. A generation not yet jaded by nonsensical double-talk or political correctness now watches 3-D and 4-D ultrasounds on YouTube and understands that the tiny souls on the screen are human beings in every sense of the word.

Such certainty might well have changed America back in 1973, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, during Roe v. Wade oral arguments, asked Roe attorney Sarah Weddington the most compelling question of the case.

"If it were established that the unborn fetus is a person, you would have almost an impossible case, would you not?" Stewart asked.

"I would have a very difficult case, that's correct," Weddington replied.

What the Supreme Court and the country weren't sure of then, rational people cannot now deny -- unborn children are people. And it's not "extremist" to believe that the wanton destruction of innocent people is evil.

This year, as we mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, how will you remember Roe? Right to Life of Kern County will host a candlelight prayer vigil, 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 2633 16th St. Please join us.

Marylee Shrider of Bakersfield, a former reporter and columnist for The Californian, is executive director of Right to Life of Kern County. She can be reached at 864-7508 or Life@rtlkc.org.

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