How many times have we been lectured by liberals that the U.S. needs to get its laws in line with the Europeans on everything from welfare to the environment? Well, yesterday our laws moved in a European direction, but the liberals aren’t applauding. That’s because the U.S. Supreme Court just moved the vector of our abortion laws a little closer to the European standard when it banned partial-birth abortion.
In the 1980s, when Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon was researching a book on abortion laws in Europe and the United States, she was stunned to learn that no nation had abortion laws quite as liberal as those in the U.S. Every European nation, she found — including the sexually liberated Scandinavian countries — had long had some restrictions on abortion. Only in the U.S. was abortion-on-demand considered sacrosanct through term.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late New York Senator, was a supporter of the high court decision that legalized abortion, but he regarded partial-birth abortion “infanticide.” The same is true of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch. Say what you will about Princeton’s Peter Singer, at least he is honest enough to chastise his fellow pro-choice colleagues for not admitting that there is no fundamental moral difference between killing a child in the womb just prior to birth and killing a child who was just born.
Singer’s honesty is particularly unique because almost everyone associated with the pro-abortion movement has lied at one time or another. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the radical pro-abortion group NARAL, later admitted that he lied when he told the media in the early 1970s that one million illegal abortions were done each year in the U.S.; he knew the real figure was approximately 100,000. The Jane Roe in the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, Norma McCorvey, later admitted that she lied about being raped in the very case brought before the court. And in 1995, Ron Fitzsimmons, executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, went on national television saying he “lied through [his] teeth” when he “spouted the party line” about partial-birth abortion being rare.
Nathanson also admitted that NARAL was anti-Catholic from the get-go. The leadership of NARAL reasoned that if the Catholic Church’s moral authority could be sullied, or at least called into question, it would wound the pro-life movement. Ergo, attempts to smear Catholicism were orchestrated. Like McCorvey, Nathanson would eventually become pro-life and convert to Catholicism, but the lies and anti-Catholicism in the pro-abortion movement would remain. Indeed, both attributes are integral to its politics.
When John Roberts was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, his Catholicism became an issue with pundits like NPR’s Nina Totenberg, ABC’s Barbara Walters, CNN’s Tony Harris, Slate’s Christopher Hitchens, the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, Harper’s John MacArthur, former governor Mario Cuomo, et al. No one beat The American Prospect’s Adele Stan: She wrote that Bush was “playing the Catholic card” in nominating Roberts, and that “Rome must be smiling.”
Not surprisingly, when Samuel Alito was nominated, people like feminist Eleanor Smeal and NPR’s Dahlia Lithwick ominously warned that Alito would make the fifth Catholic on the high court. Now that it was the five Catholics on the Supreme Court who voted to end partial-birth abortions, we can expect the anti-Catholic bullies to raise their ugly heads once again. Must they be reminded that Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Leahy, Durbin and Dodd are also Catholic, and that they also support partial-birth abortion?
Politically, the fallout of this decision is something to watch. Republican presidential candidates Giuliani, McCain and Romney have all flip-flopped on abortion. Giuliani is an abortion-rights advocate, though he now says he would appoint judges like the very ones who voted to ban partial-birth abortions. McCain said in 1999 that he was not in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but now he says he wants it repealed. When Romney ran for senator in 1994, and for governor in 2002, he said he was in favor of abortion rights, though now he says he isn’t.
One thing is for sure: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have never flip- flopped on abortion — they’ve never found an abortion they couldn’t justify. And unlike Giuliani, McCain and Romney, who all cheered yesterday’s decision, Clinton and Obama denounced it. It’s too bad there isn’t room for children in utero in Clinton’s Village. Similarly, it’s regrettable that Obama’s pledge to “Reclaim the American Dream” doesn’t extend to the unborn.
The lies and the anti-Catholicism that have colored the culture of death are not about to vanish, but what happened yesterday means that at least some children who might have been aborted at almost the moment of their birth will now continue to live. That’s no small achievement, even if there’s still a lot of work to do.