As the ongoing debate to defund Planned Parenthood heated up once again, a friend of mine received an e-mail from the giant abortion provider. He was informed that there was nothing more important he could do that day than call his senator to support Planned Parenthood.
He was directed to a link in which he could enter his phone number, state and zip code. His phone number would then be connected directly to the phone number of his senator’s office. A call script was then provided for him to use in which he could tell his senator not to leave countless women “without access to birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other basic care.”
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After the call, he received a text message asking if the connection was successful and if not, he would be given another chance to call again.
The e-mail my colleague received is an image of all that is wrong with this hollow Leviathan that is losing the battle for acceptance by public opinion. Its message is as phony as its phone campaign. Its presentation is as canned as its call script. Its methods are as mechanical and lifeless as its customized e-mail sending software.
The super-sophisticated e-mail and text messaging reflect something of the desperation of Planned Parenthood as it fights for its political life.
Too Big to Fail
Indeed, it makes sense that the tax-supported abortion giant would invest in a high-tech system to save itself. It faces three insurmountable problems that have no real solutions.
First, Planned Parenthood’s biggest problem is that it is big—too big. It is a monolithic structure that conveys a cold, mechanical and artificial image. It has no real human face save that of its president Cecile Richards. Planned Parenthood is “too big to fail.” If it goes under, most of the abortion industry will go under. All its eggs are in the same basket. There is no plan B. Hence the desperation tactics.
In this sense, it is unlike the pro-life movement that is not concentrated in one effort but hundreds. If one pro-life organization fails, two or three more will spring up in its place. Pro-lifers have been able to convey a warm, organic and human image that draws people to their cause and allows them to frame the debate.
No Social Capital
Planned Parenthood’s second problem is that it is not a grassroots organization. It caters to decadent, fake elites—Hollywood stars and media personalities—who attend its gala dinners and fund its activities. Its supporters are a who’s who of the liberal establishment increasingly detached from the everyday life of most Americans.
Thus, Planned Parenthood does not have what sociologists call social capital. That is to say, it is not supported by those intense networks of reciprocal human relationships that validate and make it part of a community. It is always a barricaded intruder that cannot integrate itself into a locality.
Sociologist Robert Putnam in his landmark book, Bowling Alone, put it this way:
“The pro-life ground war (like the civil rights ground war before it) is adapted for a ‘social capital rich’ environment with dense preexisting social networks of reciprocity, while the pro-choice air war is adapted to a ‘social capital poor’ environment. In the latter case, the existence of a well-developed national social movement organization using ‘air war’ techniques is a sign not of the presence of grassroots engagement, but of its absence.”
The pro-abortion movement lost the social capital war. This can be seen by comparing the way the two opposing currents operate. Instead of restricted gala banquets, pro-lifers hold potluck dinners. Pro-lifers have vibrant networks of activists and volunteers while pro-aborts resort to working with their e-mail lists and sophisticated messaging systems.
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Losing Control of the Narrative
The third problem is Planned Parenthood’s failure to control the narrative around the abortion issue. After Roe v. Wade, abortion was supposed to be a women’s issue that would gradually gain acceptance. All resistance to it was supposed to fade away.
And yet the contrary happened. The pro-lifers soon framed the debate on their own terms. The cover of Time Magazine of January 14, 2013, said it best: “Forty years ago, abortion rights activists won an epic victory with Roe v. Wade. They’ve been losing ever since.”
The pro-life movement forced Planned Parenthood into a moral battle that it is ill-equipped to fight. Every ruse to disguise the killing of the unborn has been unmasked especially in light of recently released videos. One by one, pro-lifers have closed abortion clinics and made them unwelcome in their communities.
Pro-abortion activists are forced to admit the grisly nature of abortion. Worse yet its activists embrace now ever more radical stands in defense of abortion, even to the point of expressing pride for their abortions. In this debate, they cannot persuade but only polarize.
Thus, Planned Parenthood suffers from a schizophrenic malady. On the one hand, it must portray itself as a women’s health organization. On the other, it must cater to its radical base that openly and proudly embraces abortion and the culture of death.
The Lonely Monster
Thus the Planned Parenthood debate rages.
It is a moral battle that liberals cannot afford to lose. At stake is not just Planned Parenthood, but the whole edifice of the sexual revolution.
The problem is that liberals have built a monster to champion their cause. It is gigantic, isolated and bipolar. It frightens people. It cannot curb its voracious appetite for tax dollars.
That is why they have resorted to desperation tactics to save the lonely monster. Liberal courts have reinstated its funding. Media come to its defense at every opportunity. It is given privileges that few private organizations are given. Legislators are pressured to keep its artificial life support system going.
It remains to be seen if Congress will have the courage to cut off Planned Parenthood particularly in this moment of its desperate weakness. The record is not encouraging. As the abortion giant sends out its e-mails, pro-lifers also need to ramp up their pressure. But they especially need to petition God in heaven for aid in this titanic fight.