President Clinton has flipped on countless issues, but on one he has been uncompromising. While pretending to wrestle with the "difficult" issue of abortion and even telling Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch that he has "prayed about it," the president gives the abortion lobby exactly what it wants every time: abortion on demand for any reason.
A bill passed by the Senate and House would have restricted a rare form of abortion that proponents call "partial birth." It is a late-term abortion in which the baby is extracted from the womb feet first, scissors are forced into the back of the skull, a suction catheter is inserted, and the baby's brains are sucked out. It is not a pretty picture, which is why opponents of the measure objected to drawings of the procedure being displayed on the House floor for C-SPAN viewers to see. Pro-choicers prefer that abortions be shrouded in euphemisms and morally obtuse medical terminology and kept behind closed doors to spare the conscience and the soul.
By far the weakest argument against the partial-birth-abortion bill was that pro-lifers wanted to use it as a "wedge" to realize their goal to end all abortions. But remember when pro-choicers argued in favor of Roe v. Wade on grounds that young girls were becoming pregnant by their stepfathers or uncles? That wedge opened the door to unrestricted abortion.
The president, as always, tried to have it both ways. He called partial-birth abortion "disturbing," but then wanted a huge loophole-the woman's "health," which can be defined by the abortionist.
The pro-choice lobby lied about the frequency and purpose of such late-term abortions. Planned Parenthood Federation of America claimed that the procedure "is only used when the woman's life or health is in danger or in cases of extreme fetal anomaly."
But this claim was thoroughly refuted by Dayton, Ohio, abortionist Martin Haskell, who wrote a paper describing step-by-step how to perform the operation. He should know since he's performed more than 1,000 of them. Dr. Haskell said that "80 percent" of these procedures, from 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 months, are "purely elective."
Dr. James McMahon testified he performed many such abortions for "depression" and acknowledged that he did them even during the final three months of pregnancy for "psychiatric indications" and the youth of the woman.
President Clinton pretended to be mulling over his veto decision until just recently. But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) transmitted the president's veto pledge last Dec. 7 before the Senate had completed action on the bill. It was reiterated by White House spokesman Mike McCurry on Dec. 8 and by the president himself on Dec. 9.
The talk about seeking common ground and praying was a smoke screen. Did the president expect God to have changed his mind about the nature of the unborn child from what is recorded in Jeremiah 1:5: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you," or Psalm 139: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.... My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place ... your eyes saw my unformed body"?
The president might have also spoken with Charito Silvis, a young woman I met at a crisis pregnancy center dinner last week in Bradford, Pa. Ms. Silvis was a student when she became pregnant. She said her parents told her she couldn't live at home if she remained pregnant, and they scheduled an abortion for her. She said she went to the clinic with a friend, but when she heard "the suction machines killing babies," she left and decided to go through with her pregnancy. Twenty-month-old Michael Anthony seemed happy to be alive, and Silvis, like every other woman I've met who chose life, says she loves her son and has no regrets.
Polls indicate that 71 percent of the public support a law that would prohibit partial-birth abortions except to save a woman's life. But liberal politicians and their allies in the media, who never picture an abortion (especially a late-term one) in the paper or on the air, and hardly ever interview women like Charito Silvis, continue to conceal the truth.
The real extremists in this debate are those who have never met an abortion they would prevent.
© 1996, Los Angeles Times Syndicate