An alert reader sent me a link this morning to Godspy, where you can find this recent in-depth interview with David Reardon.
David Reardon is the founder of The Elliott Institute.
All the text that follows comes from the interview. I've added italics in some places.
DAVID REARDON: The pro-life politician’s sound bite response to the question “What’s your position on abortion” should essentially be: “I’m pro-life, and I’m also concerned about women who are being pushed into having unwanted abortions. I want to help women who are suffering from physical and psychological complications from abortion, and women who are suffering from a sense of loss, and those who feel they aren’t getting enough support for healing and emotional recovery after abortion.”
Our recommendation is to reaffirm your pro-life stand and then become very expansive in describing your concern for the women who are hurt by abortion, and what you’re going to do to help them. That’s because the first reaction from women who’ve had an abortion when they hear you are “pro-life” is fear of judgment. They’re listening for any indication that “you are judging me,” or that “you are condemning me.” To offset this fear, you have to affirm that you understand the pressures that make women have abortions, that you’re not throwing stones, that you want to help them, that you want to help those who have been in that situation find social support in the healing process. These would be the core messages. You have to say something to women other than just “I’m against abortion,” because to them that implies “you’re against those who have abortions, like me.”
Of the women who identify themselves as pro-choice, only a minority of them even believe that abortion generally benefits women. It’s interesting that men who identify themselves as pro-choice are much more optimistic than women about how abortion affects women. This reveals that, in a certain sense, women are more realistic in realizing that abortion is an ugly experience – even when they believe it should be readily available. They know it’s not a good thing.
For instance, we know that 70% of women going in to abortion clinics believe it’s morally wrong. They’re acting against their conscience because of the pressures they face. We know, based on established research, that these women are more likely to experience problems afterwards. The abortion clinics are getting away with not even screening for that, because they don’t want to know anything, they just want to do the abortion and say goodbye, good luck.
With the Bush administration, from the beginning it was evident that his position was: state you’re pro-life and say no more. I think the political strategy was, let pro-lifers know that I’m the one to vote for, but we’re not going to dwell on this because we want to talk about things that are less divisive. But the very fact that they don’t want to talk about it implies an awareness that this is a deep emotional issue for people, so the way to deal with it isn’t to ignore the deep emotional issue but to tap into it and show people you’re on their side.
Interviewer: The Catholic Church has been pretty good at communicating the message “Neither do I condemn you” to women.
Reardon: I think the Church has quite a way to go yet, but by comparison the Church is light years ahead of politicians in making those messages clear to women.
But do read the entire interview