by Gail Quinn
July 24, 1998
This is a photograph of a child at 18 weeks' gestation. Should any one be able to kill her brutally by partial-birth abortion? The truth is in your heart. As religious leaders and as citizens of the United States, we urge you to help override President Clinton's veto.A message to members of Congress from the bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
The U.S. House of Representatives did vote to override the veto. The Senate will vote in September. There the outcome is less certain.
This is a hard one to understand. Why would anyone think it OK for children to be brutally killed by partial-birth abortion? It's even hard to grapple with the fact that the abortion industry excuses and defends it. But it does, as does President Clinton, who twice vetoed the bill that would have stopped this horrible practice.
The laws of our nation allow unborn children to be killed on the strength of their mothers' preferring that they not be born alive. Strip away the rhetoric like "a woman's right to choose," or "no one likes abortion," and what's left? Just a cadre of organizations committed to an unfettered freedom to kill, as long as the killing is done before a child is completely born (mostly born isn't enough), an industry profiting from the killing, and politicians who have the bizarre notion that support for this heinous practice makes them more attractive to voters.
Things have gone beyond too far. The pro-abortion position would be laughable if its consequences were not so serious.
In July the House of Representatives also passed a bill called the Child Custody Protection Act. This would make it a federal misdemeanor to take a minor across state lines for an abortion while circumventing a state law requiring parents' involvement in such decisions. 85% of Americans agree with Congress. But within hours of the vote, the abortion lobby swung into action, warmed up its cell phones, and had media speaking against it. The White House chimed in, threatening to veto.
A Washington Post editorial went like this: (a) The right to travel from state to state is protected by the Constitution, and (b) so is abortion. Since (a) and (b) are true, it follows that (c) ("it's hard to fathom how it could be a crime to cross state lines in helping a minor obtain an abortion") must also be true. By what logic? (a) I can cross state lines, and (b) I can go to New York for dinner. Does that mean I can take your 13-year-old daughter to New York for dinner without your knowledge or permission? If I taught 8th grade, I couldn't give a female student her own prescription medication unless a parent provided written permission to do so. I could, however, skip the pill-dispensing and take her out of state for an abortion. And the Washington Post and others would say, yes, that's right, you should be able to do that.
The Post argues essentially that there is no difference between minor girls and adult women in terms of what they may or may not do vis-a-vis parental knowledge or consent and personal freedom. Women don't need their parents' involvement, so neither do kids. And if one, the child, needs some help to get a little life-altering surgery without Mom and Dad knowing about it, well then the other one, the grown up, ought to be able to help her. What are adults for if not to make things easier for kids? Especially when some poor kids are stuck with potentially non-cooperative parents when it comes to surgery on their daughters and aborting their grandchildren.
The federal government should not "give force" to some state laws, said the Post, when other states may not have similar laws. "Should the federal government," it asked, "be able to criminalize crossing state lines (or transporting someone across them) in order to gamble, buy cigarettes at lower tax rates or purchase guns?" According to the Post the answer should be "no." But that makes no sense. In the wake of several horrible shooting incidents in schools across the country, and widespread concern about the dangers of teen smoking, can the Post really mean that what unemancipated minors need now is more adult help obtaining guns and cigarettes?
Where does all this leave parents? And kids? If the abortion lobby has its way, children won't be guided, or protected, by those who love them most--their parents. They will be at the mercy of other adults with an I-know-what's-good-for-you attitude. If something goes wrong, those adults, and the law, are only too happy to shift responsibility back to parents--whether it's a life-threatening infection from abortion, lung cancer from tobacco use, or the death of an other child at the hands of a gun-toting minor. Parents are left to "clean up the mess" and deal with the life-long aftermath.
It's time that a little common sense was restored to our public debates. Children are not adults. The 8th grade teacher should not be able to help my child get an abortion behind my back. And the bishops' message to Congress bears repeating: The truth is in your heart.
Gail Quinn is Executive Director of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities in Washington, D.C.