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Peace & Life Connections Index

#318 Elections - History & Conventions - July 8, 2016

What History Shows: Consistent-Life Works in Elections Before Roe v. Wade, back when U.S. abortion policy was still decided democratically, there were three referendums to legalize abortion. In 1970 in Washington state, legalization passed with 56% voting yes. But in 1972, in Michigan, Proposal B was defeated with 61% voting no, and in North Dakota, 78% voted no. That wasn’t what the polls had been showing earlier, suggesting the campaigns against the measures may have been quite effective.

As detailed in Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-life Movement before Roe v. Wade, the Michigan group “Voices for the Unborn” produced a campaign brochure saying: “Michigan was the first state in America to outlaw the death penalty for criminals. Proposal B would legalize the death penalty for thousands of unborn babies.” Author Daniel K Williams further comments: "Voices of the Unborn’s willingness to link the pro-life cause with opposition to capital punishment may have stemmed in part from . . . its director, state representative Rosetta Ferguson, an African American Democrat from Detroit . . . having grown up in the Deep South during the Depression, Ferguson was acutely aware of poverty and racial discrimination, and she feared the consequences of legalized abortion for women who were black and poor." (page 192) And Williams says in the case of North Dakota: "[Al Fortman] enjoyed an excellent relationship with several of the state’s Catholic bishops and forged ties with some of the state’s Protestant ministers by linking the pro-life issue to other social justice causes, such as opposition the Vietnam War, that interested mainline Protestant clergy." (page 193) So the consistent-life approach seems to have real-world effectiveness in election results; the two out of the three campaigns that took this approach were the ones that pro-lifers won resoundingly. Would that we could learn the lesson for today! If anyone knows of other evidence – especially showing impact on elections in other countries beside the U.S. – please let us know so we can compile a stronger case. Send to


News from Kenya Our board member Evan Wagoro (pictured) reports: “Next Business Leadership and Life (BLL) Forum by the Mentor Summit Africa is set for the 9th of July 2016 (Saturday) . . . . We have three public speakers participating. Don't miss out. In this event's key-note address, my focus will be on 'Consistent Life Ethic.'”


CL Blogs for July: Conventions Commentary Our blog has an upcoming series of entries focused on the U.S. major party conventions. This week’s by John Whitehead comments on the dynamics of peace issues in the race, called, “Varieties of Hawks: Clinton v. Trump on Foreign Policy.” Coming up: ahead of the Republican convention, comments on the impact the current presumptive nominee might have on the pro-life cause. Ahead of the Democratic convention, we'll discuss how progressives hurt peace causes by not being pro-life on abortion. Finally, we hope to report on our adventures at both conventions.


Reminder: Convention Actions Coming Up If you’re interested in joining with those of us leafletting and dialoging outside the two major party conventions, contact: Republicans in Cleveland, July 18-21: Aimee Murphy, Democrats in Philadelphia, July 25-28: Rob Arner, (540) 742-2697,


Quotation of the Week Anne McCracken from “Abortion Opponents Active,” by Ruth Ann Burns, New York Times, June 11, 1972 Anne is explaining how her protesting the American war in Vietnam led to activism against abortion: Suddenly I realized, here I am protesting wars and killing while 25,000 babies were aborted in New York, 30 miles away in three months. What a death rate.


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