NECAC Forums with “Abortion for Survival” Video

John C. Rankin

In the late 1980s, The Fund for the Feminist Majority (Eleanor Smeal, president; she also was the prior president of the National Organization for Women [NOW]) produced a video called, “Abortion for Survival.” I picked up a copy when I heard Ms. Smeal speak a NOW rally at Faneuil Hall in Boston, to an audience of some 200 supporters. It was quite an experience. For I still expected to hear a cogent argument presented, but instead it was merely a series of  political partisan one-upmanship points, laced with invectives against “anti-choice extremists” etc. Her hyperbole includes speaking of “millions who resort to back alley abortions — and to die from it,” and the “reduction of companies who do contraceptive research — ‘medical McCarthyism.’ “

On the flyer that accompanied the video, the following information is highlighted:


A NEW videotape … Compelling … Straightforward!

“Abortion: For Survival,” a new 30 minute videotape, presents the case that modern, safe abortion is beneficial to women and society. Unapologetic and straightforward, top medical and population experts present compelling evidence on how legal abortion improves  the public health and is essential for the well-being of millions of women worldwide.

Excellent for Special Screenings: Local Actions and Education; Press Conferences and Briefings, School and College Programs; Library Presentations.

Did you know that:

  • Worldwide one woman dies every 3 minutes from a botched abortion .. needlessly
  • Abortion is more prevalent around the world as a forum of birth control than the condom or male sterilization
  • The technology of abortion has been so improved that the procedure is ten times than childbirth

A letter on the back of the flyer reads:

“Dear Friend,

“We want to thank you for ordering our video, ‘Abortion: For Survival.’ We are proud to send you this hard-hitting and straightforward documentary that shows how legal abortion improves the public health and is essential for the well-being of millions of women worldwide.

“Once you view this video, we are sure you will agree that it is an important tool in both reshaping the debate on abortion and in putting an end to the opposition’s lies. Please help us get the video’s important messages out by showing it to your friends, family and associates.

“Again, thank you for ordering our video and thank you for your generous support of the Fund for the Feminist Majority.

“For Equality,

“Elaanor Smeal, President, Peg Yorkin, Chair.”


In these years, I sponsored the video by itself in some churches and on college campuses, followed  by my own presentation. I passed out a two sided 8 x 14 flyer with my comments:


We have sponsored the video “Abortion for Survival” in the interest of truly informed choice. After I share my own comments, I hope you will join in the forum and ask hard questions as we think through this issue together.

The video makes many claims and raises a myriad of issues. The following responses are but a sample intended to catalyze critical thinking. These responses may serve as a springboard for your own questions. And for those elements in the video not covered here, I hope you will raise them if they pose for you a compelling question or concern.

1. Claim: “Abortion is a positive good.”

1a. Response: Abortion comes from the Latin ab + oriri which = “to cut off from rising” or “to stop from being born.” How is such an act of destruction ever intrinsically positive?

2. Claim: “We want abortion for the sake of our children,”

2a. Response: Which children? De we destroy one child supposedly for the sake of another?

3. Claim: “Why does the government want hungry children in the world?”

3a. Response: Is this a serious question, as though it is an explicit government policy? How does the death of the unborn feed hungry children? Why does the government want aborted children (which is the current policy of legality)?

4. Claim: “A woman will seek an abortion anyway, whether legal or not?”

4a. Response: Do we abolish a law just because people will disregard it?

5. Claim: “Women will die.”

5a. Response: Anyone’s death is a tragedy. But to die while killing your child is more tragic yet.

6. Claim: “A simple safe procedure that no one has to be ashamed or embarrassed about.”

6a. Response: Why then do so many women hang their heads in shame, going into an abortion clinic? And especially when coming out?

7. Claim: “Only a tiny fraction — 1/100th of one percent — are performed during the third trimester, and those exclusively for serious medical reasons.”

7a. Response: False. A full one percent are done in the third trimester — 15,000 a year, not 150. “Serious medical reasons” is the exception — these babies are viable. Have you ever seen a third trimester abortion? (CDC).

8. Claim: “Abortion, in most cases, is a one or two minute procedure.”

8a. Response: If it is so simple, why does the doctor have to be paid an average $200.00 for two minutes of work?

9. Claim: Making abortion illegal does not reduce the incidence of abortions. In fact, it may increase it.”

9a. Response: Nonsense. In 1973, illegal abortions did not exceed 150,000 per year. Once legalized, the number has climbed to nearly 1.6 million per year (CDC).

10. Claim: “Pressure from anti-abortion forces is blocking distribution of RU-486 in this country and internationally — even for its life-saving medical application.”

10a. Response: Opposition to RU-486 is solely due to its designed abortafacient purposes. Any drug can be applied medicinally (like arsenic). To say that pro-lifers are opposing life-saving medicine is a ludicrous reversal of reality.

11. Claim: “We are not adequately feeding the current world’s population.”

11a. Response: Hunger is not caused from density of population or lack of resources. Compare Holland and Ethiopia. Hunger is a matter of politics and the human will.

12. Claim: “2.2 million children … are abused every year.”

12a. Response: Abortion is the ultimate child abuse — kill them before birth. Why has child abuse risen dramatically along with rising abortion rates since 1973?

13. Claim: “Before abortion was made legal in the United States, it was estimated that 10,000 women died every year from botched illegal abortions. Today there is only one per 200,000.”

13a. Response: Whose estimate was this? It was an abortionist who has since admitted that this figure was a fabricated lie to win sympathy. According to the CDC, the most was 300 a year, and only 39 in 1872. This is 39 too many, and yet women still die from legal abortions.

14. Claim: “A strong majority of Americans have supported [Roe v. Wade], despite massive propaganda efforts by the anti-abortion minority.”

14a. Response: Then why worry if we’re truly a minority? Why did the Boston Globe (3/31/89), with its abortion advocacy editorial position, report that a large majority of Americans oppose 98% of all abortions? The majority only only allows the exceptions of the mother’s life, rape & incest, and deformity of the child. This majority strongly opposed its use for birth control.

15. Claim: “Abortion is a necessity … for their dreams of a better tomorrow … They cannot change” (emphasis my own).

15a. Response: How full will be the tomorrows without all the children who have been aborted?

16. Claim: “This is clearly not a baby” (picture of an aborted 8-week old fetus).

16a. Response: It was an unborn baby. But when a vacuum aspirator 20 times more powerful than a household vacuum cleaner tears the child to pieces, is it surprising that there is nothing left to view but blood and tissue?

17. Claim: “Hysteria” and “emotional” appeal of “anti-abortionists” v. “rational pro-choicers.”

17a. Response: Reflect on my remarks and you be the judge.

18. Claim: “… no right to impose views of one religion.”

18a. Response: We are imposing nothing. We are only seeking to persuade on the very same constitutional grounds which we commend to our opponents.


Outline of comments: “The Ethics of Choice.”

  1. Presuppositions: Protestant minister, raised agnostic. Seeker of truth on its own terms; eager to be questioned — Socratic dialogue.
  2. Legal: Is not all law based on a prior definition of human life? * Roe v. Wade “I don’t know” basis; MA referendum; Webster amicus. * Is there any known example in American law, apart from Roe, based on “non-consensus” or “I don’t know.”
  3. Biology: Are there any known facts to dispute conception as the origin of each individual human life? * Who chose to be conceived or born?
  4. Theology: God forces no one into eternal life. He empowers us to choose it. * Biblical order: God. life, choice, sex. Church & State issues.
  5. Feminism: How can feminist ethics be reconciled w/human abortion? * Definitions of nurture v. dominance; biblical definitions of image of God v. world religions; of power; of abortion as the ultimate male chauvinism. Harvard Th.M. thesis.
  6. Central question: Do you have the power to choose life? * NECAC agenda in four arenas: Crisis Pregnancy Centers; University debates/forums; Legislative (multiple-choice ballot initiative); Activist (Ethics of Choice Chorus).