National Catholic Register

Opinion

After the Gavel Falls

The 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortion is a historic ruling that could change the course of the abortion debate and, with it, the course of our nation.

BY The Editors

April 29- May 5, 2007 Issue | Posted 4/24/07 at 9:00 AM

 

The 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortion is a historic ruling that could change the course of the abortion debate and, with it, the course of our nation.

Or then again, it might be only a temporary setback as the big business of abortion continues to get exactly what it wants from American politics and jurisprudence.

It all depends on what pro-lifers do next.

Here are four suggestions we would give pro-life Americans in the wake of Gonzalez v. Carhart. We plan to expand on them in the weeks ahead.

1. Quote the court’s description of the partial-birth abortion procedure.

To this day, many in the media want to pretend that partial-birth abortion doesn’t really happen. They call it “so-called partial-birth abortion” and find synonyms that make it sound less heinous than it is.

But the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, should erase any doubt. It includes two descriptions of the procedure: a clinical account from a doctor who has performed the procedure, and an account from an observing nurse.

Here we’ll quote just the nurse. Her words are graphic and horrifying, but pro-lifers should quote them, whenever necessary, to tell the truth about abortion.

“Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby’s legs and pulled them down into the birth canal,” quotes the majority opinion of the Supreme Court. “Then he delivered the baby’s body and the arms, everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus. … The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall. The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp. … He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used.”

2. Name the defenders of partial-birth abortion.

It’s hard to understand how someone with a conscience could want to legalize the procedure that nurse describes. Her description makes clear that partial-birth abortion isn’t a partisan issue pitting one ideology against another. It’s an issue of common decency that horrifies a majority of Americans in poll after poll.

All the same, politicians such as U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY,  and Barack Obama, D-Ill., two leading candidates for president, have rushed to its defense. They call this kind of killing a “constitutional right” and denounce the high court for allowing their fellow Americans to ban it.

They have taken a shocking, radical, barbaric position, and pro-lifers should continually remind Americans that this is what they stand for.

3. Remind others why partial-birth abortion should be illegal.

The court gave several reasons why partial-birth abortion should be illegal, but two of them are crucial to mention when explaining the decision to others: Abortion kills babies and harms women. One section of the decision sums this up admirably.

“Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child,” says the majority opinion of the Supreme Court. “While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow.”

It’s important to stress this, because America was a nation founded on the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We honor as national heroes those who have called us back to those principles when they were out of favor — from slavery’s abolitionists to the suffragettes to civil-rights heroes. Those who support the ban on partial-birth abortion are the defenders of America’s founding principles in our day.

4. Ban more procedures, immediately.

In 1997, when Congress first banned partial-birth abortion, pro-abortion activists spoke candidly about their fears that pro-lifers had hit on a winning strategy. Though Americans might be able to stomach a message that emphasizes “choice,” most turn against abortion when confronted with what that choice actually entails. Abortion activists were certain that pro-lifers planned to start bringing up more and more procedures, exposing the big business of abortion for what it is.

We didn’t follow that strategy then, but we should now. The high court’s decision even suggests that the court might now be receptive to further bans.

Lawmakers should introduce a ban on other, equally heinous, abortion procedures, right away. They should start with late-term procedures, but not stop there. Let’s describe these “medical practices” in detail and find out if Americans think they should be illegal or not.

We can’t afford to waste this opportunity to advance the culture of life in America.