Cover Story

Abortion: A right that's wrong

"Abortion: A right that's wrong" Continued...

Issue: "38,000,000 Children Killed," Jan. 16, 1999

· In Ohio, in what prosecutors described as an act of "road rage," Tracie Alfieri forced off an interstate and into a parked truck a car driven by a pregnant woman, Rene Andrews, who was severely injured in the crash. The unborn child died, and Mrs. Alfieri was charged and convicted of vehicular assault and homicide, under an untested Ohio law that makes it illegal to kill an unborn baby. Mrs. Alfieri appealed the conviction and cited all the usual pro-abortion arguments, but her appeal was denied last month.

· A pro-life judge in Cleveland, Patricia Cleary, came under harsh media attack in October after she refused to release a 21-year-old woman in jail on a forgery conviction to keep an abortion appointment. Judge Cleary was honest about her reason for denying the early release to the 20-weeks-pregnant woman: "I think it worked out swell if that was her desire to abort her child that late." The judge's decision was overturned by a higher court, but the woman chose not to kill her unborn child.

· As expected, pro-abortion activists successfully used anti-gangster racketeering laws against pro-life protesters. Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Action League leaders Joseph Scheidler, Timothy Murphy, and Andrew Scholberg were found liable in a federal court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, which was written by a Notre Dame law professor in 1970 to use against the Mafia. The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for the law's misuse, however, when it said in 1994 that NOW could sue pro-life groups under it and extract heavy money damages. But as Mr. Scheidler put it after the jury decision, "You can't get blood from turnips, and we're turnips."

But 1998's biggest political news on the abortion front was the ominous rumbling that came from the Colorado mountains in February. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, told a gathering of top Republicans that the party must "stop the betrayal" of its conservative members.

"Republicans ran on pro-life and pro-moral platforms in recent elections," Mr. Dobson said. "But once they were in office, they grew strangely silent. Their record on the sanctity of life and other family-related legislation has been pathetic."

He cited the confirmation of David Satcher as surgeon general, the $900 million in tax money given to the Planned Parenthood Foundation, and GOP support for Gov. Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, a partial-birth abortion supporter.

Others disagreed with general condemnations, citing the Republican push for a partial-birth abortion ban. But Mr. Dobson threatened to walk, and take as many social conservatives as possible with him, if the Republican Party did not toughen up.

Pro-life political activists inside the GOP created a stir when they almost succeeded in passing a resolution at the annual winter meeting to cut off financial support for Republican candidates who do not oppose partial-birth abortions. And the National Conference of Catholic Bishops stepped up the pressure on Catholic politicians who separate their faith and their politics by supporting abortion rights. In Pennsylvania, Republican pro-abortion Gov. Tom Ridge was barred by his local bishop from attending Catholic events. It's too early to tell whether the tactics worked; conservatives certainly weren't energized at the polls in November. Even in Colorado, a voter initiative to ban partial-birth abortions failed.

Now the battle for the year 2000 presidential nominations and party platforms begins. And as an odd end to this retrospective, it should be noted that in New Berlin, Wis., last year, the wife of an abortionist went outside her home to confront about 50 protesters early one Saturday morning last January. The pro-lifers were standing in the street outside the home of Neville Duncan when his wife, Brenda, emerged from the house and shouted to them. "You want to get shot, you [expletive]?" she called. Then she turned around, undid her pants, and mooned them. One protester, Bob Braun, responded, "Oh, my."

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