An Historic Crossroads
AN HISTORIC CROSSROADS by David Andrusko
"With the Clintons, the story always is subject to further revision. The misstatements are always incremental. The 'misunderstandings' are _always_ innocent -- casual, irregular, promiscuous. Trust is squandered in dribs and drabs." - Joe Klein, May 9, 1994, _Newsweek_
"What happened is the president's [health proposal] scared people, and the effect of being scared is to make people much more cautious about what is to be enacted." - Robert Blendon, quoted in the June 16,1994, _Wall Street Journal_
"By a strange paradox, the main legacy of the Clintons to late-twentieth-century America may be a revived interest in questions of character." - From _Returning to Virtue_ by Robert Royal
Make no mistake about it, we are at an absolutely crucial juncture. The fate of health care "reform" is clearly up for grabs. What you and I do over the next few weeks could well determine whether our moral starting points are radically revised. Will the abortion cancer metastasize, spreading everywhere? Will the lives of massive numbers of vulnerable people be placed at risk through rationing of lifesaving care? Will the Clintons succeed in retouching abortion's ugly face by integrating it into the core of medical service delivery? Not if we go all-out -- NOW! We *must* take advantage of the growing misgivings that now are threatening the Clinton Health Care Rationing Plan both by participating in the nationwide brochure distribution project (see back cover) and by writing our elected officials (see "Action Alert," page 21).
There is an intriguing irony at work here. Last year, we were given virtually no chance of derailing the "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA). But in the wake of a herculean grassroots oppositional effort, FOCA proponents decided (after counting noses) that discretion was the better part of valor; it was not brought up for a vote. By contrast, in this year's tenacious combat over the Clinton Plan, many (including some pro-lifers) casually opined that there was no way the Clintons would endanger their health "reform" program by trying to cram unparalleled federal promotion of abortion down the throats of congressmen, let alone the general public. Even now, we hear some of this poppycock, a not very well thought out response to the Clintons' wholly insincere blatherings about possibly "compromising." Many otherwise hard-headed people labor under the illusion that abortion is of secondary importance to the most ideologically militant First Couple ever to occupy the White House. The naivete is astonishing. And as for rationing, we alternatively hear (a) naw, it ain't so, and (b) yup, only way to control medical costs.
To be sure, we must *not* make the mistake of concluding that the mother of all anti-life proposals (or related progeny) is in mortal danger. If it/they are repelled, it will *only* be because pro-lifers and other ordinary Americans rain a prodigious outpouring of letters, mailgrams, literature drops, and the like on Congress. The reason we have a chance at rebuffing the Clintons stems from the White House's highly questionable tactics and strategy, the fact that the true reach of what is, after all, a breathtaking expansion of federal power is beginning to sink in, and because Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen are coming to the conclusion that the pay-off would be more taxes, a serious erosion in the quality of medical care, and rationing. (See story, page 1.) To repeat, now is the hour. The unborn and the medically vulnerable need your help!
What makes the impending showdown historic is that if Bill and Hillary Clinton prevail, Americans will suffer through what only the most militant pro-abortionists could feel sanguine about: a virtual explosion in the number of abortions. Believe me, this is no exaggeration. Everyday in everyway the commitment that steers the otherwise rudderless Clinton Administration is to make abortion a way of death _everywhere_ in the world.
This confrontation comes just as a report was published by the proabortion Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), showing a 5% drop in abortions between 1990 and 1992. We must both not make too much of this nor minimize its significance. No one can get too happy when over 1.5 million babies still died in 1992. Yet, surely it's a cause for joyous celebration that 80,000 fewer babies were butchered two years ago than were killed four years ago. (See Dick Glasow's story on page 11.)
The study's principal author, Stanley K. Henshaw, attributes the decline (to the lowest point since 1979!) to the "changing age structure among women of reproductive age" -- as the huge cohort of baby boomer women age, they are less likely to have abortions. He also cites changing attitudes toward childbirth outside of marriage, and a diminution in the availability of abortion services, in part due, he alleges, to "hassles and harassment." But Henshaw also obliquely references a possible change in "attitude toward abortion." Asked specifically by the _Baltimore Sun_, "Does that mean anti-abortion groups' campaigns to change public attitudes have worked?" he replied, "It's hard to say, but it's a possibility that it's succeeded to some extent."
However, when interviewed by _USA Today_, abortionists and abortion "providers" readily unpacked their laments. They conceded our ad campaigns are dissuading women. Counselors see "more anguish around decision-making" on abortion, complained the National Abortion Federation's Sylvia Stengle. If measures such as parental notification laws, "women's right to know" laws, and 24-to 48-hour waiting periods are convincing some women to change their minds, no wonder proabortionists fight these widely supported measures like the devil.
It doesn't require a very subtle mind to understand, then, why making abortion part and parcel of the medical system, paid for by eueryone's tax dollars, is vital to the anti-life set: it would go a long way toward destigmatizing the abortion trade. Henshaw himself pointed out in the closing paragraphs of his article in the May/June _Family Planning Perspectives_ that fewer and fewer hospitals are performing abortions, there is a declining number of abortionists, and baby killing is increasingly concentrated in "specialized abortion clinics." Thus, he warns, "abortion services are becoming even more isolated from the mainstream of medical care, leaving physicians who provided these services vulnerable to stigmatization within the medical community." But, to the pro-abortion mind, the hope is, if *everybody* pays for abortions; if *every* insurance policy includes abortion in its coverage; if abortion comes to be seen as no different than any other "pregnancy-related service," well, won't people eventually conclude, "What's the big deal about killing babies?"
The Clintons' obsession with shepherding RU 486 through the medical, ethical, and safety obstacles to eventual marketing make more sense when we grasp that Bill and Hillary hunger and thirst after an America where every ob-gyn is (in the words of the _St. Louis Post Dispatch_) "a potential abortion provider." If, as Henshaw suggests, fewer abortion "providers" equals fewer abortions, what, pray tell, should we expect if we increase the pool of butchers many times over? No wonder Clinton sees the upcoming UN Conference on Population and Development as one gigantic proselytizing opportunity for abortionists in the developing world, according to Jeanne Head, RN, NRLC board member from New York and a delegate to the United Nations from the International Right to Life Federation. She reminds us we should hardly be surprised that the U.S. delegation to the preparatory conference was the driving force in trying to turn the Cairo conference into one extended paean to "safe, legal" abortions. With the Clintons' track record, we could know in advance they'd insist that a key component of the document to be voted on in September is to provide teenagers around the world with abortion services behind their parents' back.
Other pro-abortion Presidents have been largely content to whittle away at the pro-life opposition. Clinton goes after the jugular. If he could, he would annihilate the primary roadblock -- us -- to his crusade to reshape our collective assumptions about the taking of unborn human life. Were he to engineer such a coup, Clinton would have won a battle of colossal proportion. Under the cloak of the idiotic mantra of "safe, legal and rare" abortion, he hopes to muddy our moral vision, to eviscerate the very capacity to distinguish good from evil.
Which is why, we might add parenthetically, you see what might be called the Willie Hortonization of conservative Christians who are entering the political process in record numbers. What happens if decent, law-abiding pro-life cultural conservatives secure their rightful place at the political table? For one thing, those within both major political parties who wish abortion would "go away" will encounter determined new opposition. For another thing, these newly energized party activists will insist that the Clinton Administration's out-of-the-mainstream agenda be fully critiqued. No wonder they must be smeared at every occasion by Clinton's many surrogates (i.e., reporters/ columnists), as well as party hacks such as Democratic National Committee Chairman David Wilhelm. Wilhelm, in particular, is desperate to move the discussion away from what even his field directors are admitting: many Democrats will not only not run with Bill Clinton this year, they will run away from the President. So it is that conservative Christians must be demonized.
Finally, looking ahead, in the next issue of *NRL News* we will list the products manufactured by the companies associated with RU 486. We will encourage you to boycott them. RU 486 is extraordinarily dangerous to women and to their unborn children. It has no business here. While advocates see it as the key to unlock the door which has kept full acceptance of abortion at bay, if we look at the core idea that underlies its introduction, we quickly see that it is a classic example of a technological fix offered supposedly as a way out of a moral and ethical bind. In truth, of course, it is the disease for which it is advertised as the cure. Technology as savior is emblematic of the flight from responsibility which undergirds the anti-life ethos -- regression masquerading as "progress." Morally, we have moved backwards from adulthood to adolescence, substituting a pastiche of cliches for generosity of spirit. Thus, a major part of the challenge we face is to retrieve those humane and dignified values which provided safe harbor for the powerless among us. Others, less resolute, would buckle under the sheer weight of the tasks ahead, but not you.
Pro-lifers passionately defy our culture's directive to segment the human family into life worthy to be lived and life which has no claims on our conscience. Your moral intuitions are keen, your deep commitment to justice, mercy, and compassion praiseworthy. It is precisely because of your fidelity to these eternal virtues that the babies could not possibly have more competent defenders, more trustworthy champions.
[ This editorial first appeared in the in the June 21, 1994 issue of _National Right to Life News_. Copied with permission. _National Right to Life News_ is the official publication of the National Right to Life Committee, Inc.