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LIFEWATCH

National

Issue: "Building a better boycott," Oct. 4, 1997

In Missouri, the veto pen is mightier than the brick

Events surrounding the victory in Missouri for pro-abortion forces last month showed that a governor is more powerful than a brick, a wobbly Republican is more useful than super glue, and newspaper ads are more effective than than spray-painted slogans. In September, the building that houses the regional headquarters for Missouri Right to Life, the state's largest pro-life group, had a window shattered by bricks, its door lock glued, and the words "Abortion On Demand" spray-painted in black. No one was injured, and police have no suspects or witnesses but are continuing to investigate. Oddly, the pro-life group's offices weren't damaged. The vandals, perhaps not knowing which office was which, damaged other offices in the building. Ellie Dillon, director of Missouri Right to Life, said there was glass everywhere when she arrived about 90 minutes after the incident. For several days following the episode, police watched the building around the clock and Ms. Dillon was escorted to her car. "At first we were all pretty frightened," she told WORLD. "We've never had any problems in the past, never experienced vandalism. We haven't received any threatening phone calls in five years." Ms. Dillon says she's convinced the timing of the incident is no coincidence: The Missouri legislature was about to attempt to override the governor's veto of legislation banning partial-birth abortions. "We knew it had to do with the veto override," she said. Gov. Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, was concerned enough about a possible override of his veto by the state legislature that he took about $60,000 from his political campaign fund to pay for full-page ads in eight daily newspapers statewide defending his position. In the ads, he recited the pro-abortion line that a decision to deliver a live baby up to its neck and then kill it "must be left to the woman after seeking counsel and guidance from her family and friends, her physician, and her clergy." Mr. Carnahan's ads may well have had an effect, as the vote on overriding the veto lost by one vote in the Senate-a vote cast by a first-term GOP lawmaker who had previously voted against partial-birth abortion, but changed her mind. Key Republican officeholders and party leaders fiercely lobbied the senator, Betty Sims, before the vote but she refused to heed their counsel. Ms. Dillon contends that Sen. Sims "got a lot of pressure from pro-choice groups." The override vote may be brought up again next January, giving pro-life forces another opportunity to secure that single vote.

Precision language

Another politician running for office has found himself in hot water for previous statements about abortion he's now trying to refute. Virginia Lt. Gov. Donald S. Beyer is squaring off against former state Attorney General James S. Gilmore III for the governor's post in November. Mr. Beyer, a Democrat, is trying to paint Republican Gilmore as a pro-life "extremist," in part due to Mr. Gilmore's belief that Virginia's new parental notification law should be expanded to require parental permission. As Mr. Beyer received the endorsement of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Mr. Beyer charged his opponent is "out of step with Virginia's mainstream" on abortion. Mr. Gilmore's campaign countered by distributing news clippings from 1989 in which Mr. Beyer, then in his first campaign for lieutenant governor, said he favored a law requiring parental notification and consent. A spokesman for Mr. Beyer denied the flip-flop, contending that in 1989 politicians used the terms "notification" and "consent" interchangeably. Virginia's law requires that doctors notify the parents of a girl under 17 before she can get an abortion.

Justice for some...

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The new United Nations high commissioner for human rights is all for justice-except when it comes to the unborn. Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, told reporters on her first day in office this summer that she "will be the voice for those who are victims of injustice, cruelty, and issues of human rights around the world." Ms. Robinson also said she would "fulfill the intention of the reform package of the secretary general, that human rights will be very central to the work of the United Nations." But Ms. Robinson has long been an advocate of liberalizing Irish abortion laws, as well as softening the strong Irish stance against divorce and campaigning for homosexual rights. She served as Ireland's president for nearly seven years. She was approved by the UN General Assembly on June 17 for a four-year appointment.

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