A Day to Remember
"Yet it is clear that the controversy over the ban has altered the tenor of the debate. The issue first came to the fore in 1995, after abortion opponents discovered a medical paper describing a procedure, performed at 20 weeks of pregnancy or beyond, in which the trunk of the fetus is delivered before the surgeon punctures the skull. 'It was all in plain English,' recalls Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee. That plain English provoked a strong reaction among lawmakers, and eventually the public, turning the discussion away from abstract notions of choice and toward abortion's most graphic details."
New York Times, Nov. 6
"For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way. Today, at last, the American people and our government have confronted the violence and come to the defense of the innocent child. ...[T]he executive branch will vigorously defend this law against any who would try to overturn it in the courts."
President Bush, in his remarks the day he signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
"Today, we saw the real George Bush. If we could afford to, we would put that speech on television every day from now until the election. I'm glad that the President has decided to stop hiding his true colors on this issue. Any shred of doubt that this is the most anti-choice President this country has ever had has been convincingly erased."
Kate Michelman, NARAL President
I was unable to be among the more than 400 pro-lifers who assembled in the Ronald Reagan Building to witness President George W. Bush sign the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. But even watching the ceremony on television was close enought for me to realize the crowd was wired for joy.
There was enough energy crackling through that room to light the Capitol for weeks. The electrifying impact of the love and mutual respect that flowed between Mr. Bush and these veteran pro-lifers is something that participants tell me still gives them goose bumps.
After all the massive amounts of time, effort, and prayer devoted to securing the ban, what does passage signify?
Pro-abortionists were quick to tell the world what enactment supposedly meant. Speaking out of both sides of their mouths, they warned that the ban signaled an all-out assault on Roe v. Wade even as they disparaged the law because (they insisted) it was "all for show."
As always, the perpetually hyperventilating, Chicken Little leadership of the Abortion Establishment wants it both ways. And, as always, they were wrong on both counts.
Their goal was to whip their own troops into a frenzy while robbing us of the sense of accomplishment we so richly deserve. Thanks to a receptive mass media, they got the former. Thanks to your sophisticated understanding of what transpired, however, they failed at the latter.
The impact of the shocking discovery that abortionists were employing an abortion technique straight out of a slasher movie is so dramatic that probably not even pro-lifers grasp what has taken place. Not for some time will we be truly able to plumb the depth of the transformation ignited by the debate over something so ghoulish it would make Freddy Krueger blanch.
Let's begin by clearing away some of the usual pro-abortion efforts to muddy the waters. No one EVER said that prohibiting partial-birth abortions would immediately make a huge dent in the l.3 million per year body count. For their own reasons - - principally to induce mass media hysteria--pro-abortionists screamed that the language of the ban was so vague it would also prohibit all the other more "popular" late-term abortion techniques.
In fact, the very genius of the pro-life campaign was its unrelenting, unswervable, laser-like focus on one specific nauseous assault on our common humanity. By refusing to be diverted, it moved the debate away from the tiresomely vague gibberish about "choice" to specific conscience-pricking details of what really happens to defenseless babies when the abortionist is given absolute sway.
Not that pro-abortionists didn't try. For example, not a day goes by that some newspaper doesn't talk about the "graphic" illustrations that were shown on the floor of the United States Senate. Graphic? Simple, black and white sketches, later augmented by equally accurate color drawings?
Contrary to the impression often left, these medically accurate representations were not grisly photos complete with mangled fetal body parts. Rather the drawings drew shudders because they succinctly conveyed what takes place, leaving it to the imagination to fill in the horrific details.
You first see an unborn child inside her mother. She is safe, although in the bottom right corner, you see a man's gloved hand holding a pair of what you soon realize are forceps.
Even in the second panel all you see is that he has begun to pull the child into the birth canal. Only in the third panel - - when he pulls most of the baby's body except for her head out of her mother's womb - - does the viewer sense that something ominous is about to happen.
In panel four the abortionist is inserting something - - you can't really tell that it is a suction catheter - - into the back of the child's head. In the fifth and final panel, the baby's body has suddenly gone limp.
Nothing in what you've seen in these plain, matter-of-fact drawings tells you that the abortionist has just punctured the child's head with pointed surgical scissors and vacuumed out her brains like so much soot, "collapsing" the head and removing the now dead child.
In a sense, there is "less" here than meets the eye. You have to be told the ghastly particulars. Fortunately for the cause of life, one of the early pioneers of this "technique" was eager to explain the specifics in a paper he delivered to his fellow abortionists. All NRLC did was to share this information with the American public.
But while the law was carefully crafted to prohibit only partial-birth abortions, the pro-death set is on to something. There will be a ripple effect. Having once begun, the American public will continue to re-assess the enormous damage Roe hath wrought.
Think of it this way. Habitual resort to abortion is like one of those ultra-powerful narcotic pain medicines. It is legal, addresses "pain," is highly addictive, and is very, very difficult to "kick."
The partial-birth abortion debate provided insight and illumination into all of these components. Where darkness reigned, light began to shine through.
For instance, as the public began to tune in to the debate, all but the hardest-core hard-core pro-abortionists discovered that "legal" does not mean right. A moment viewing the drawings and it became clear that the law can be used to deny justice, not promote it.
The eight-year-long discussion also taught people that the well-developed babies who are the technique's victims of choice can suffer horrible pain. Most sentient people find this unconscionable and beyond the pale.
In addition, the discussion opened the door to show that abortion is never the "solution" to the pain and anguish of a crisis pregnancy. There must be "a better way."
Moreover the debate helped teach the public how sanctioning abortion leads to more and more and more abortion. Abortion becomes a kind of fix used to "solve" over 44 million crisis pregnancies - - and in ways that have grown almost unimaginably brutal.
Finally, thanks to the debate over partial-birth abortion, we at last have real reason to hope that, as a nation, we have taken the first step toward withdrawal. None of this would have happened without strong congressional leadership and President Bush's repeated assurance he was eager to sign legislation banning partial-birth abortion.
But it is no less true that we could never have taken this important first step forward had it not been for your unfaltering, unflinching, unwavering determination. I am proud of you and the babies are grateful to you.
Please take a moment to go to page 32. There is much to do in 2004, and NRL News's special January 22 Commemorative Issue will lay it out for you.
Dave Andrusko can be reached at email@example.com