Many pro-lifers lead beautiful apostolates that help women, educate the public and change hearts. This column isn't for them. We want to take a moment to look at the legislative side of the pro-life movement, and ask, now that the partial-birth abortion ban is law in the United States, what should we do next?
For starters, we should learn the lessons that other activists teach us.
If gun control advocates, for instance, won a battle to ban armor-piercing bullets, what would they do next? Would they be satisfied with the victory and move on to other things, perhaps educational campaigns about gun safety?
They wouldn't. They would capitalize on the momentum and try to ban something else.
If homosexual-marriage activists won a federal battle to, say, gain domestic partnership status on tax forms, would they be satisfied? No. They would clamor for a more significant step.
Neither should we be satisfied with a ban on partial-birth abortion. We should boldly look to ban more kinds of abortion. And we should do so without fear.
After all, if it ever was possible to be pro-life and not be targeted by the abortion industry, it's not possible anymore.
Take Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, at her word. After the president signed a law banning the killing of full-sized babies with scissors as they're being born, she said, “George W. Bush came out of hiding this week, trading in his carefully parsed statements of just a week ago for a full-forced anti-choice rally.” A new NARAL ad campaign “highlights the danger that the ban on safe medical procedures poses to women's health — and their liberties.”
Michelman is right. There is no hiding place. If we're against partial-birth abortion, opponents will paint us as wanting to ban all abortions. We won't mollify them by softening our pro-life stand. So why bother trying?
Why not boldly and prudently start chipping away at abortion, after all? We're going to suffer the consequences whether we do or not.
This may be the soundest legislative pro-life strategy going forward: Pro-lifers should bring up one gruesome abortion procedure after another and see which ones the public wants to keep legal.
Frances Kissling once put it this way: “There is no abortion procedure when described that is aesthetically comforting, whether at six weeks or 32 weeks.”
In 1996, Washington Post columnist William Raspberry put it this way:
“Admit squeamishness over partial-birth abortion and the right-to-life crowd will show you some pictures of earlier abortions in which the ‘fetal tissue’ looks unsettlingly baby-like. If you acknowledge that 20 weeks is too late, how can you defend abortion at 19 weeks or 14 or nine or one?”
How indeed? To be concrete, we propose that pro-lifers take up a bill like this next:
The Dilation and Evacuation Ban. Our proposed bill would ban this second-trimester technique. When doing a D&E abortion, the abortionist inserts a pliers-like instrument through the cervix into the uterus then seizes a leg, arm or other part of the baby and, with a twisting motion, tears the limb out. This continues until only the head remains. Finally the skull is crushed and pulled out. The nurse must then reassemble the body parts to be sure all of them were removed.
It sounds horrible and impolite to describe a D&E abortion. That's because it is a barbarous, brutal practice. One that should be illegal.
If pro-lifers bring this up, we won't have to argue philosophy or ethics or complicated issues. We will just have to tell the American people what's going on in their cities and all over the country, thousands of times a day, and ask them if they want it to continue.
Yes, if we choose to follow this strategy, the pro-abortion movement will go ballistic and claim that we oppose women's rights.
But if we choose not to follow this strategy, the pro-abortion movement will go ballistic and claim that we oppose women's rights anyway.
We have nothing to lose, and lives to save. Let's begin.