I’ve been watching pro-abortion pundits and organizations celebrate the defeat of the Mississippi Personhood Amendment. I think we can glean from the energy they are putting into celebrating this “victory” for them today how much they have been starving for “good news” to talk about.
After all, it’s been a particularly brutal couple years for the pro-abortion side.
I like what Phil Lawler wrote about the news of Amendment 26’s defeat:
Yesterday the people of Mississippi voted not to amend their state constitution to declare that human life begins at conception. Nevertheless the scientific fact remains: Human life begins at conception.
That’s really the core message to take away: whatever the outcome of the vote, the scientific and objective reality that human life begins at conception remains. It’s this truth about the human person that pro-life advocates will never cease promoting. In this battle, there are no defeats, only setbacks.
We can also take some consolation that the pro-abortion movement had to use dirty tricks and a massive misinformation campaign to convince voters to oppose the amendment. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC repeatedly claimed last night that the amendment would cause women who had suffered miscarriages to be investigated by the government. That’s just a small taste of the lies the pro-abortion movement had to embrace to fool voters.
However, we can’t ignore that the pro-abortion side was more effective in getting their message across than the pro-life side was, as Phil Lawler also notes: “The most unsettling thing about yesterday’s vote is the realization that a majority of voters were swayed by that crude propaganda campaign.”
Part of the reason this happened is that the pro-life side was split when it came to supporting the amendment. Many pro-life groups and religious organizations who traditionally support pro-life efforts stayed on the sideline. This, I think, is the greatest lesson of the Mississippi Setback: it is largely up to the pro-life to decide where and how we win. When we are absolutely unified and engaged, we can win. When we are not, we suffer setbacks.
As we continue to fight to undo the grave injustice of legalized abortion, we must also strive for greater unity as a movement. That’s the main lesson to learn from the Mississippi setback.
UPDATE — Michael New also has good thoughts questioning the strategic advisability of personhood amendments going forward.