It was in the Dallas airport early last month that I first sensed a change in the wind. At a news stand, I noticed Texas Monthly magazine promoting an article on its cover titled, “Am I really Pro-choice?”

What’s this, I wondered – a publication obviously targeting hip Southwesterners (“The right way to do a shot of tequila” was another cover title) questioning a topic that was sacrosanct to its curried liberal readers?

The author, Gary Cartwright, wrote a cliched yet strangely guilt-ridden column re-evaluating his pro-abortion position from the standpoint that yes, he was still right after all these years, but only after being given reassurances by pro-abortion clergy, whom he quoted extensively.

Yet Cartwright spoke heresy at the end of his piece:

The weakness of the pro-choice side is that it risks coming across as pro-abortion rather than pro-choice. I believe that the avoidance of abortion is a legitimate goal, that if a woman who has had to go through these state-mandated obstacles [Texas laws requiring a 24-hour wait prior to abortion, parental consent for minors, and informing patients they have the right to view photographs of dead fetuses] changes her mind and decides to carry the baby to term, everyone wins. Abortion should also be the last choice.

“Avoidance of abortion is a legitimate goal”? “Abortion should be the last choice”? And “carry the babyto term”? Wow.

But more heretics were quick to pile on, the result of a national election we now know severely damaged Democrats and pro-aborts, not just electorally, but also psychologically. Pro-lifers can no longer be dismissed.

A Dec. 6 Washington Times article titled, “Pro-choicers told to rethink,” reported on an essay written by Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice. Kissling’s piece had an interesting subtitle, “How to think about the fetus.” She wrote:

I am deeply struck by the number of thoughtful, progressive people who have been turned off to the pro-choice movement by the lack of adequate and clear expressions of respect for fetal life.

The Dec. 20 issue of Newsweek told of pro-choice Democrats’ “anxiety over abortion” as they “eye[d] a more restrictive approach to abortion as one way to gain ground at the polls.” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, reported “a gasp in the room” when presidential loser John Kerry told a gathering of liberal special-interest group leaders “they needed new ways to make people understand they didn’t like abortion.”

Nancy must have passed out when she read the Dec. 24 New York Times headline, “Democrats weigh de-emphasizing abortion as an issue,” with six follow-up letters to the editor a few days later.

(The Times piece included my pick for pro-abort quote of the year, by Howard Dean: “I don’t have any objection to someone who is pro-life, if they [are] really dedicated to the welfare of children.”)

Kissling nailed the pro-abortion dilemma:

Inherent in our focus on women’s rights has been our belief that fetal life does not attain, at any point in pregnancy, a value that is equivalent to that of born persons … Our belief about what value fetal life may possess is not yet well articulated and pro-choice supporters are not of one mind on this question … Pro-choice advocates fear that any discussion of fetal value will strengthen the claim that if the fetus has value, abortion must be prohibited in all or most circumstances.

Those fears are well founded. Pro-aborts have an impossible dilemma. They know they are losing in the court of public opinion, but can’t do anything about it without admitting facts they denied to get their way nearly 32 years ago. And I expect those they least want to admit anything to are themselves, because they will then have to face the fact they promote and profit from killing babies.

Meanwhile, pro-lifers must recognize the new vulnerability of pro-abort legislators and take advantage of it. The Times piece reported, “[Democrat] Party leaders said they were not abandoning their fundamental support for abortion rights, but said Democrats should consider accepting some restrictions that enjoy popular support – like parental notification when teenagers receive abortions.”

Now is the time to ask pro-abortion legislators to sponsor as well as vote for pro-life legislation in 2005, most of which has public support. If Democrats mean what they say, they must prove it. Now. And don’t forget pro-abort Republicans.

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