This Week

Issue: "Army's new MP's?," May 31, 1997

Pro-life on a roll

During the debates over partial-birth abortion, the only truth uttered by its staunchest defenders is that those who seek to outlaw the practice will not stop there. Banning this particularly gruesome method is an end in itself, to be sure, but it is also a means to another end: namely, ending all abortions. In the Senate last week, pro-lifers lost the vote but won the debate. Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said after a so-called compromise measure was defeated, "We are now headed, obviously, to a veto and that won't accomplish anything in the long run." Yes, it will. Even though senators failed to muster the necessary 67 votes to override a promised presidential veto of the partial-birth abortion bill, pro-life forces are actually in better shape now than in the heady days after the Webster decision in 1989. Every vote the pro-abortion extremists are forced to make diminishes their strength. Senator by senator, authority by authority, the debate over partial-birth abortion is winning. Last year's debate brought C. Everett Koop back into the picture on the pro-life side; pro-abortion Sen. Pat Moynihan (D-N.Y.) was forced to concede the procedure was "too close to infanticide." This time it was the American Medical Association and Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). And don't forget the admission of abortion lobbyist Ron Fitzsimmons that the pro-abortion talking points are lies. The case of Sen. Daschle is interesting. Although he believes the partial-birth abortion ban would not survive a test of the Supreme Court's surrealistic jurisprudence on this issue, he said: "You could make a very strong argument that this abhorrent procedure needs to be stopped regardless of the circumstances. And if this will bring about some new direction by the court with regard to how we might effectively eliminate the procedure, we might be helped by allowing the legislation to pass." And despite the phony "grievous injury" health exceptions in Sen. Daschle's "compromise" bill, it purports to ban not just partial-birth abortions, but all third-trimester abortions. This is progress.

Courtroom drama

Presenting a strong but largely circumstantial case against accused Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh, prosecutors held a Denver jury spellbound by laying out their case in dramatic fashion. Instead of following a chronological sequence, the prosecution interspersed weighty technical evidence, such as fingerprint information, with compelling emotional testimony from blast survivors and McVeigh acquaintances. Prosecutors, however, couldn't produce any witnesses who could place Mr. McVeigh in the area of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in the minutes leading up to the April 1995 truck bombing that gutted the structure and killed 168 people. The defense team opened its case by suggesting that the terrorist attack, the worst ever on American soil, may have been committed by a mystery bomber who was killed in the explosion.

Course correction

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Trying to block San Francisco's new city ordinance requiring all businesses to provide health benefits to "domestic partners," the nation's major airlines filed suit May 13, arguing that they're governed by federal, not local, laws. "It would be impossible to operate in hundreds of communities with different and possibly contradictory local ordinances," said Carol Hallett, president of the airline organization that filed the suit. The San Francisco ordinance, passed in November, demands that all companies doing business with the city provide the same benefits to unmarried couples, including homosexual couples, that are available to married couples. United Airlines, the city's largest air carrier, at first balked at the law, but then agreed to abide by it. Upon further review of federal statutes, however, United decided it didn't have to comply.

The China syndrome

Setting up a battle with a broad coalition of human-rights activists, including several conservative Christian groups, President Clinton announced he intends to renew China's special trading privileges with the United States, despite widespread and conclusive evidence of the Communist nation's human-rights abuses. Congress has 90 days to overrule the president's decision on China's trading status. The president's announcement came even as the missionary organization Voice of the Martyrs reported the Chinese government had ordered the execution of the country's most prominent Christian house church leaders. Meanwhile, lawmakers and religious leaders urged the White House to create an office to monitor worldwide religious persecution. At a May 20 news conference, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) announced legislation that would allow such an office to trigger sanctions against oppressive nations, such as banning exports and cutting foreign aid. Regarding Mr. Clinton's decision to push for renewed Most Favored Nation (MFN) trading status for China, Family Research Council president Gary Bauer said President Clinton should "assert American values instead of merely groveling for dollars." China's MFN status could be in jeopardy for another reason as well. Rep. Gerald Solomon (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Rules Committee, said he would not look kindly on renewing MFN if China is harboring Arkansas businessman Charles Yah Lin Trie, wanted for questioning in Congress's probe into campaign finance improprieties. Mr. Trie, a longtime friend of President Clinton, disappeared in China after being linked to close to $1 million in questionable contributions to Mr. Clinton's legal defense fund and to the Democratic National Committee.

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