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Peace & Life Connections #196
February 7, 2014

Abortion Rates at All Time Low Since 1973
        In the news this week, the Alan Guttmacher Institute’s research shows a 13% drop in U.S. abortions from 2008-2011. The trend has been downward since the 1990s, and the economic downturn didn’t halt it.
PLC 29 APAW        This is good news, and also helps in the long term because the less important abortion becomes in peoples' lives, the easier it will be to limit it.
        When abortions decline, we can use that in a narrative that says that the American people are rejecting abortion, useful in reaching those who want to jump on bandwagons. It also helps remove a roadblock: as long as we’re heard to be saying, in effect, "America is engaging in a holocaust," good and loyal Americans refuse to hear a message so disturbing. But with decline we can say instead "the American people are realizing how tragic abortion is, and they’re continuing to turn away from it." Both narratives are true -- why not use the one that has greater power to change minds and hearts? Non-violence builds on hope, not despair.
        For more details on the psychology of this, see the book Achieving Peace in the Abortion War.  

Connections of Activism
196 Kagan 
       The idea of “buffer zones” around abortion clinics brings to mind all the methods of squelching free speech on all the issues of violence. While listening to a case on this in the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Elena Kagan made that very connection – she asked why a state couldn’t create a buffer zone around the entrances to slaughterhouses targeted by animal-rights advocates.  
        Many pro-lifers were struck at the comparison to slaughter, since that’s the pro-life understanding of what’s happening at abortion clinics. Kagan may not have been thinking that way, but connections are helpful in thinking things through, and she did indicate this as a connection that showed what might be wrong with buffer zones.  
Letters in The Mennonite
        In response to a negative letter about Consistent Life’s ad in The Mennonite (a traditionally pacifist and officially consistent-life church), Julia Smucker had this letter published:

        I noticed an ironic juxtaposition in the December 2013 letters that highlights a disturbing inconsistency in the Mennonite commitment to nonviolence . . . Donna Neufeld questions the content of a Consistent Life ad that says no to several forms of violence, taking particular issue with “no abortion.” It is much to our credit that we are so well-known for our firm opposition to war and certain other forms of violence. Why, then, are we sometimes eager to give a pass to the violence of abortion?
196 Smucker        Neufeld is right to keep the concerns of women in difficult pregnancy situations in mind, but by bringing up such examples as justifications for aborting the child, she raises the same challenge that the pacifist is often confronted with in questions like, "What about such-and-such a tyrant?" or, "What if someone broke in and attacked your family?" If our response to such questions indicates that violence is never the answer, this conviction should hold for every situation.
         Let us think of an unwanted or crisis pregnancy as a conflict situation that calls for a creative and nonviolent resolution rather than continuing the cycle of violence. As believers in total nonviolence, Mennonites should find a natural home in the consistent life ethic.
Quotation of the Week
National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Pastoral letter The Challenge of Peace, 1983
        Nothing can justify a direct attack on innocent human life, in or out of warfare. Abortion is precisely such an attack.
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