Abortion opponents have a new voice
In the often heated debate over abortion, a less confrontational, more pragmatic force is behind a record number of antiabortion laws and pro-choice's 'bad year.'
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While common ground is elusive in the fight over reproductive freedoms, Yoest's measured manner is a marked break with those of some of her peers and many fighting in the trenches.Skip to next paragraph
Yoest's deliberative nature is home grown, a product of a peripatetic childhood experience that required adapting to new locations and schools and attracting new friends. So perhaps it is not surprising that she is the kinder, gentler face of a movement winning not just the legal war but the spin game at the moment.
"It's not too difficult to imagine that somewhere in some major pro-abortion organization, there's a bull's-eye with Charmaine's face in the middle," says Gary Bauer, Yoest's former boss at the Family Research Council.
A popular thinker
Yoest was first challenged to dig deep foundations for her antiabortion sensibility at Oxford University in England, where she went to study under conservative ethicist David Cook after serving under Mr. Bauer in the Reagan White House as an intern and staffer.
"I want to be a part of the intellectual discussion defending family issues and life," Yoest says she told Dr. Cook. "He was wholly unimpressed. He said, 'Go write me a paper on why abortion should be legal.' Apparently, I didn't do a great job at it. He really helped me focus on where I didn't understand my whole argument. It changed the whole way I think about the issue. He really challenged me – defend it, defend it, defend it."
Yoest says she learned that her adversaries' arguments shift ground and divert attention from what she believes is the essential fact: Abortion takes a human life.
If there was any sign of Yoest's future calling, it was that she was always "a little adult" – eager for dinner-table discussion of the topics she read about in Newsweek, recalls her mother, Janice Shaw Crouse.
Though Yoest was born in Lexington, Ky., the family, which included a younger brother, moved frequently for the Crouses' doctoral work and teaching assignments. They bounced from Indiana to upstate New York, and then overseas when Mr. Crouse won a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at National Taiwan University in Taipei.
The two years abroad were formative for Yoest and her brother, who were elementary-age students old enough to appreciate the journey, which included swim meets in Okinawa, Japan, and a summer traveling with their parents around Europe.