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Here's to an open mind

National | Pro-abort Marge Roukema's vote shows persuasion works

Issue: "Tipping the Scales," Oct. 5, 1996

Occasionally one finds a political figure with enough integrity to refuse to toe the special-interest line and instead look into an issue and do what's right in light of the evidence.

Rep. Marge Roukema, a pro-abortion moderate Republican from New Jersey, decided that instead of voting in lock-step with the rest of her pro- abortion colleagues, she would go beyond the sloganeering and the sound bites. Though Roukema voted against the original bill banning partial-birth abortion--a procedure in which a fully formed baby is delivered feet first and a shunt inserted in its head sucks out the brains--she switched sides and voted to override President Clinton's veto of the measure.

The reasons Ms. Roukema gave for her change were as honest as they were profound. She said that her concerns about protecting the mother's life had been answered, putting the lie to pro-abortion claims that the bill would jeopardize women's lives. She also said she was satisfied that doctors would not be prosecuted if the procedure was performed in dire circumstances.

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Explaining her veto override vote, Ms. Roukema said something that should hearten pro-lifers who might be getting discouraged. (No wonder--on the horizon is the abortion pill [RU-486] that takes us not to the 21st century but backtracks to the 1940s when other categories of human life were deemed unworthy of official protection and technology was used to speed up the killing process, making it more efficient.)

Ms. Roukema said: "Over time, I've been reading about this and informing myself. It's a decision that was very difficult to make, but I decided [partial-birth abortion] comes too close to infanticide."

What a refreshingly new approach! She took the time to inform herself.

As we rush to legalize almost every questionable behavior, it is heartening to see at least one public figure take the time to penetrate the hype and discover the facts. If Congress will not say no to a grisly procedure that results in the death of a fully formed and viable baby, what will it say no to?

Most importantly, the debate over partial-birth abortion shows that the real extremists are on the pro-abortion side. So radical and committed are they to the notion that a woman has the right to do anything she wishes to another human life that they view any attempt to regulate abortion as akin to depriving women of the vote or equal pay for the same work. Having the right to kill their babies--according to their jaundiced and twisted rationale--somehow empowers women in a positive way.

Quite the opposite. A nation that tolerates the wholesale slaughter of 30 million babies cannot be said to be helping women. Today there is assistance--financial and emotional--for every woman with an unplanned pregnancy, so "freedom" is no longer the issue (if it ever was). The question is whether a pregnant woman will put her short-term self-interest on hold to take the long view and bless her child. A woman bestows no greater gift than life.

Marge Roukema finds partial-birth abortion too close to infanticide. Now if other members of Congress not fully informed on abortion, its history, and its horror, would demonstrate similar integrity, perhaps they might see things differently. Abortion--partial birth and otherwise--damages not only the women who have them but the nation that allows them.

c 1996, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Cal Thomas
Cal Thomas

Cal, whose syndicated column appears on WORLD's website and in more than 500 newspapers, is a frequent contributor to WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Cal on Twitter @CalThomas.

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