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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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Yoest was both brainy and social: a National Merit Scholar finalist and a high school cheerleader.

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"She was never one to follow the crowd, but she still was very popular," Ms. Crouse recalls. "She's a very genuine person. What you see is what you get."

The family went to church every Sunday and regularly read the Bible together. They never ate a meal without praying first and never made major life decisions without reflecting on them, says Ms. Crouse, whose parents were Methodist ministers.

"Charmaine comes from a family that is willing to work," Ms. Crouse says. "We understand the value of work. God expects everybody, including women, to live up to their potential."

A traditional working mom

It was through the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md., that Ms. Yoest met and, following her time at Oxford, married fellow parishioner Jack Yoest, a dozen years her senior. For a time, the Yoests lived in Richmond, Va., where he served briefly as a senior assistant to the secretary of Health and Human Resources in the administration of Gov. Jim Gilmore, a Republican.

Ms. Yoest was raising her children and commuting to Charlottesville, Va. to work on her doctorate, which examined parental leave policies in academia. They later moved closer to campus so she could complete her degree.

"She was a very good student. She was an 'A' student," says Steven Rhoads, Yoest's dissertation adviser at the University of Virginia. "I'm not surprised she took a more activist route. I think that was important to her.... She is one of a number of women who are going to make a mark for themselves beyond the family, yet are not going to want to turn their kids over to day care."

The couple, married for more than two decades, now lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington with what Mr. Yoest, a management consultant, calls their "Penta posse": Hannah, 18; John, 16; Helena, 14; Sarah, 10; and James, 7.

The children are a close-knit pack of brunettes. With busy working parents, each helps to keep the family ship on course. Helena, an early riser, makes everyone's lunches – peanut butter-and-jelly or ham-and-cheese sandwiches – in the morning. Sarah unloads the dishwasher. John mows the lawn. And Hannah, who this fall starts at UVA on a rowing scholarship, drives her siblings to school. Many days, family members stay in touch via Facebook.

Routinely, Ms. Yoest admits with just mild hesitation, the family misses Sunday church services because one of the kids has a sporting event.

The Yoests bonded over politics during the 2008 campaign when Ms. Yoest worked for Mr. Huckabee. After painting the family Chevy Suburban and dubbing it the "Hucka truck," they spent six weeks on the road, traveling through New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa, where the kids say they discovered phone banking – and that it's a rare voter who hangs up on a child calling for campaign support.