When you want a good illustration of Hannah Arendt’s concept of the ‘Banality of Evil,’ use this video as Exhibit A.
On December 21, 1970, the Supreme Court struck down an attempt by Congress to lower the voting age to 18 in Oregon v. Mitchell.
On July 1, 1971, the 26th amendment was ratified, enshrining a voting age of 18 in the United States Constitution.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court declared genocide on unwanted children in the womb in Roe v. Wade.
Forty years later, Roe’s principles are still sound Constitutional law.
This Tuesday, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest tragedies in American history. Even if a right to life amendment had been passed almost immediately, thousands of babies still would have been legally killed in the brief interim, and Roe would still be a disaster worthy of our collective memory as Americans.
But there is another, far greater, far grimmer, and far more heartbreaking tragedy we must remember tomorrow: the four decades between 1/22/73 and 1/22/13. It is one thing for nine judges to make a ruling on a single day. It is quite another for hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens to go on killing for scores of years without ever realizing their own iniquity. All nine men who gave Roe life are now dead. And of course, they’re no longer needed – millions upon millions of average men and women are willing and able to keep it alive forever. And just today, one of their own was inaugurated for a second term as President.
One feels like Phil Connors from the movie Groundhog Day. “I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Every day we wake up, we’re always right here, in a nation that delights in euphemistic child-killing, and it’s always January 22nd, and there’ s nothing we can do about it. Phil Connors eventually made it to February 3rd. I don’t know if America has the heart and soul left to ever make it to January 23rd.
In truth though, we also must remember the very little known fact that January 21st wasn’t all that different. Legal abortion did not have its genesis in the judiciary, but owes its existence to the legislative branch – the branch of the people. In the late 1960s, before courts had even hinted at a Constitutional right, states began making children of rape and incest legitimate objects for execution. Then in 1970, four states legalized abortion on demand – one by popular referendum.
Critically, the law in New York allowed for non-residents to obtain abortion. In all 50 states, all that legally stood between an unwanted child and death was the cost of travel to New York. Did Americans care? No, they were too busy with important issues like the right of 18 year olds to vote. In the grand scheme of things, the only real effect of Roe was to eliminate the possible need for interstate travel. Once again, Americans did not care. They were more caught up in the heart-wrenching spectacle of a hotel break-in. And even after Watergate finally, mercifully ran its course, Americans found plenty of other distractions over the next four decades.
And so, Americans have never seen fit to abolish abortion. Congress has never even come close to voicing disapproval of our legal genocide. The same body that can muster almost unanimous displays of support for an inanimate piece of fabric (the American flag) and a rote and dessicated collection of words (the pledge of allegiance), turns out to be too hard hearted to give actual people – actual children – the time of day. In this, Congress well reflects the will of the people.
At this point, it seems the only thing which will stop 40 years from becoming 50, 60, and then 70 is the collapse of the nation altogether. Back in the 1800s, the arc of history favored the slavery abolitionists. The arc of history is not on the side of the abolitionist today. Forget the polls you’ve found. Take note only of heavily conservative Indiana, which rejected a Senate candidate who dared to believe that all life deserved to live. Or remember Mississippi, the highly religious state which could not bring itself to declare that life began at conception. Or simply remind yourself of who was inaugurated as our president today.
Those who claim the United States is a Christian nation have no shortage of evidence in their arsenal. Do not the very coins we carry in our pockets say “In God We Trust”? Does not our pledge to the flag contain the words “One Nation, Under God”? Did not the Declaration of Independence close by asserting “firm reliance on the protection of divine providence”? Does not Congress open each day with some minister offering prayer before God? Did not even public school commence with prayers until the Supreme Court controversially ended the practice in the 1960s? On all counts, the answer is a resounding yes.
But does any of this make us a Christian nation? Hardly. One doesn’t need to read much of the Bible to understand that God cares little about a nation’s public declarations of faith, and more about the way the nation’s citizens actually live their lives. As Christ said of Israel, He would say of America: “these people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.” Legal abortion is perhaps the most visible way in which Americans fail to live as a godly people, regardless of what our coins and pledge attest.
The National Prayer Breakfast, held annually in Washington DC, is one of the more grotesque examples of empty god-talk to be found in America today. Inoffensive, but pious-sounding generalities are the norm at the breakfast. Occasionally though, the organizers accidentally invite someone who gives a good speech. Perhaps most famously, Mother Teresa forcefully condemned abortion in 1994, and just last year, Evangelical author Eric Metaxas did so as well.
One day, I found a transcript of the 1973 prayer breakfast in an old issue of the Congressional Record. It was held on February 1, just ten days after the Roe ruling. And five days after the cease-fire in Vietnam. And two days after Senator John Stennis (D-MS) was non-fatally shot. As one might expect, the latter two events were the ones on the mind of the breakfast participants. Then, as now, the massacre of the unborn was out of sight, and out of mind. And so, with a false air of piousness, the breakfast proceeded.
Nixon aide Ann Armstrong gave the opening prayer. Then Representatives Al Quie and John Myers made some forgettable statements. And then, who should give the Old Testament reading, but Harry Blackmun!!! Yes, Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of Roe, was there before a large crowd of professed Christians, reading from Isaiah 40. And what a passage to read! Isaiah 40 is one of the most powerful statements of God’s absolute sovereignty over humankind. “He reduces princes to nothing,” read Blackmun, “He annihilates the rulers of the world.” Was the same man who just decreed that unwanted babies were to be annihilated now daring to cast himself as a devoted servant of God?
Next up was Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR). In the months to come, he would strongly advocate a right to life amendment to the Constitution. He had a unique moment in history to speak truth to power – to really give Blackmun the words he deserved at that moment. He had a chance to direct the attention of everyone to the legalized genocide which Blackmun had begun a week and a half ago. And as Hatfield spoke, that seemed a real possibility.
“If we pray to the Biblical God of justice and righteousness,” he told the breakfast, “we fall under God’s judgment for calling upon His name but failing to obey His commandments. Our Lord Jesus Christ confronts false petitioners who disobey the word of God when He said “why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do the things I say?” God tells us that acceptable worship and obedience are expressed by specific acts of love and justice… Today our prayers must begin with repentance.”
But then, as Hatfield continued on, it became clear that he had the Vietnam war in mind rather than Roe. He was going after Nixon rather than Blackmun. For all his insight, Hatfield had sadly gotten swept up with the Nixon hatred of the day, and failed to address his excoriation toward the man who most needed it. Still, edit out a few references to the war, and the speech holds up well today. “Those who truly follow Christ,” he pointed out, “will more often find themselves not with comfortable majorities, but with miserable minorities.” Or again, “Lives lived under the Lordship of Jesus Christ at this point in history may well put us at odds with the values of our society.”
None of the other speakers after Hatfield said anything of note. Mere meaningless civil religion. Forty years later, legal abortion still exists, and so does the National Prayer Breakfast. Apparently, many self-professed Christians in Washington continue to believe that God can be fobbed off by an annual spectacle of vacuous spirituality. In truth, as all but the most willfully blind can easily discern, God is not mocked; whatever a nation sows it shall reap. In four decades, America has sown the blood of 55 million children. Is it any wonder that we have reaped another term for Obama?
If any researcher out there is thinking about writing the definitive work on the history of abortion, don’t bother. It’s already been done. Joseph Dellapenna’s massive, and exhaustive work, Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History, is unlikely to ever be surpassed. Thirty years in the making, professor Dellapenna seems to have read virtually every published work on the subject, as the vast blizzard of footnotes attests. Don’t let the combative title fool you – this is a scholarly masterpiece. Dellapenna, far from being a pro-life zealot with an ax to grind, is in fact a pro-choice Unitarian.
The main myth that Dellapenna seeks to dispel is the ubiquitous claim that abortion was not illegal at common law in the United Kingdom, and then in America. In fact, Dellapenna shows, abortion was considered illegal from the dawn of English law right on down to the 2oth century. The most fascinating disclosure in the book, however, comes in the first few chapters. This is the historical phenomenon of widespread infanticide and abandonment.
Before early pregnancy tests, anesthesia, or the discoveries of Lister and Pasteur, abortion was anything but an ordinary and safe procedure. After carefully reviewing the historical record, Dellapenna concludes that before about 1800, only the truly desperate would even attempt abortion. The practice did not become common, even illegally, until the 19th century, when medical advances made it mostly safe for the mother.
And before then? Most women facing an unwanted pregnancy went ahead and gave birth. But after that, all bets were off for the newborn baby. If the baby was unwanted, there was a good chance he or she would be immediately suffocated or drowned, or else abandoned to die. Dellapenna shares some shocking statistics which show how common these practices once were. A mere 200 years ago, dead babies were occasionally found on the streets of London, or at the bottom of public toilets. In France, the the phenomenon was even more pronounced.
Laws were passed. And then, in the 19th century, as if by magic, infanticide and abandonment suddenly started fading away as social problems. But, of course, they had not really faded away. Only now the babies were being killed by illegal abortion rather than illegal infanticide. A century later, infanticide remained illegal, but the western world began warming up to abortion.
The lesson of history is that death always finds an outlet. Today, of course, death is easier than ever. Pregnancy can be detected unfathomably early, and new human life can be aborted out of existence before it assumes an even remotely human shape. A vast realm of euphemistic terms like fetus, embryo, and parasite are available as well. The usually unstated assumption of the abortion debate is that abortion would certainly be unacceptable if everyone could agree that it was a baby being killed.
But all the talk of fetuses, and personhood, and bodily autonomy ultimately turns out to be a smokescreen. They turn out to be not true justifications, but the lamest of excuses. Before abortion was medically feasible, babies were still killed, and worse yet, they actually were, indisputably, real babies – persons, separate from the mother. Abortion does not exist because infanticide is out of the question given human nature, abortion exists because it’s so much more convenient that infanticide.
One of the principal functions of the state – possibly the principal function – is to bridle human nature. We make and enforce laws against theft, abuse, and murder because we know full well that we will inevitably gravitate toward those sins in the absence of some authority. True, death always finds an outlet, but at least the outlet is not gilded by public at large. And that is why the legalization of abortion is so tragic. Death no longer needs to even search for an outlet. We are no longer ashamed of human nature, but openly celebrate it. And though we do not realize it, we tacitly admit that it was wrong to stigmatize those who killed and abandoned their children so many centuries before.
Many weeks back, I sat by a window, vacantly gazing out, when suddenly an insect flew straight into a large spiderweb nestled in the window’s lower left corner. A few seconds later, to my horror, a large spider crawled out of the shadows, and began making its way across the web toward the struggling insect. With only seconds to spare, the insect managed to extricate itself from the web, and flew away. The spider glumly marched back into the shadows.
Right then and there, I silently offered up a prayer of joy – thank you God, for even the smallest of mercies. And yet, in this moment of unexpected happiness I also closed the curtains, and walked away from the window. I knew that, though this insect had been saved, others would not be. For every creature that flies free, rescued from danger, there are many more who do not escape the spider in the shadows.
A prominent American magazine recently declared that advocates of legal abortion have been “losing” ever since the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The pro-life blogosphere has been happily abuzz over this article, and taken it as a sign that the long term war looks favorable for our side. Russell Moore was one of the few voices to offer a more pessimistic take, to which I have little to add. Moore rightly admits that there are real reasons for happiness. Whether because of ultrasounds, crisis pregnancy centers, lack of taxpayer funding, protests outside clinics, or any number of other strategies, thousands of mothers have chosen life. Those lives are not trivial. Like a butterfly, escaping from the spider’s web, each one is an occasion for rejoicing.
But the spider in the shadows remains. I live in a country where, at this very moment, any woman at all can go into a medical facility, and have her own son or daughter put to death, without any reason at all. It has been this way for 40 years. More than 50 million times in those four decades, women have elected to exercise this right. Most frightening of all, We the People have ultimately decided that this state of affairs should stay undisturbed. For every life saved by the pro-life movement, so many more are snuffed out, and there’s no end in sight. What the Supreme Court made a right in the alleged land of “liberty and justice for all” has become so deeply embedded that making abortion illegal again has become unthinkable.
And so we do not dwell much on abortion, and go about living our lives. Even those of us who know abortion is murder. What else can we do? Thinking about the spider too much will drive you insane. But refusing to think about it can be equally dangerous. Underestimating a nation’s collective capacity for evil only leaves us less prepared when something even more wicked than abortion really starts to catch on. We continue to call America a great nation even with legal abortion. What about legal infanticide, or legal genocide? When these come, will we also put them out of our mind, and keep reciting “with liberty and justice for all”? Will we one day be reduced to rejoicing when protestors convince one mother to not exercise her legal right to put her two year old to death?
These are not pleasant questions to think about, but a 40 year anniversary is as good a time as any. Over the next several days, I hope to take a hard look at where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. And whether there’s any possibility of a happy end when the spiders are no more.
This one really hurts.
It hurts when other nations abandon the cause of life too, but at least it’s predictable in those nations.
But the Philippines were different. It wasn’t supposed to happen there. Not in one of the few nations to prefer McCain to Obama. Not in the only nation in the world without easy divorce. Not in the nation that I have often called the greatest nation on earth.
For two decades, Filipinos had valiantly fought the RH bill, and the corresponding onslaught of international pressure from the west. The fought to preserve the unique culture of life, and love that exists in the Philippines. But now, at long last, the bad guys have won. The RH bill has passed, and needs only the signature of President Aquino, who has pledged to do so before the end of 2012.
And thus, the Philippines – so long a single bright star of compassion and hospitality in midst of the cold, indifferent universe that is our world – seems fated to eventually become just another lifeless nation under the suicidal stranglehold of the contraceptive mentality. For the moment, abortion remains illegal, but notwithstanding the law, half a million abortions are already estimated to take place annually. At that level of lawbreaking, it looks all but inevitable that one day, the Constitutional right to life will too finally be abolished.
Way back in 1970, the United States Congress considered a bill very similar to the RH bill of today. In my previous post, I shared a speech by Representative Schmitz in opposition. So much of what he said 42 years ago still applies today. President Nixon signed that bill into law on Christmas Eve. As family scholar Robert W. Patterson noted, “Nixon missed the irony of starting a campaign to reduce “unwanted and untimely childbearing” just as the country was about to celebrate the “unplanned” birth of a baby born in poverty 2,000 years before.”
Less than 25 months later, abortion on demand was a Constitutional right in all 50 states. Now that the Philippines has likewise passed a bill to combat unwanted children during the season of Christ’s birth, one can only wonder how long they will continue to hold out before the citizenry embraces legal abortion.
A speech by Representative John G. Schmitz (R-CA), November 16, 1970.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Family Planning Act, H.R. 19318. There was a time when Americans made a joke about how all politicians could be counted on to be in favor of motherhood, because it was assumed that motherhood was one value and blessing which no one in his right mind could dispute.
Tragically for our country, those days are past. The familiar joke is not heard very much today. For motherhood is now under systematic, vehement and almost incessant attack. And I am waiting to see how many of my colleagues in this House, which represents the American people, will stand up with me today for motherhood and for human life, and against the “family planners” for whom motherhood is the enemy. The fact that no other member of the committee on which I serve, the committee which brings this bill before you, has been willing to do so shows just how far we have come from the days when the creation of new human life in the mother’s womb was held in universal honor.
We could make being for motherhood a joke when everyone was for it. But ceasing to be for motherhood is a different matter entirely. For motherhood is the channel for the transmission of human life. Without it, there is no future.
What the population planners never seem to remember is that population trends change, ebbing and flowing like the tide at different periods in history. You simply cannot take figures for a given brief period in the present and project them unchanged into the future with any significant probability of accuracy. In just the single decade of the 1960s, according to the preliminary returns from the 1970 census, we overestimated our population by no less than 5½ million people. Instead of the 205,700,000 Americans who had been projected – and ticked off on the famous population clock in the Department of Commerce – there were only 200,200,000.
If we can go 5½ million wrong in just 10 years – nearly 3 percent of our total population – what are we to think of projections now so blithely made for 30, 50, or 100 years into the future? Their appearance of precise statistical accuracy is pure sham.
What we now see is a more steady reduction of the birth rate in America, going back to 1957. According to the report of the White House National Goals Research Staff, July 4, 1970, Figure 2-1, it has fallen from 3.8 births per mother in 1957 to less than 2.5 today. If this trend continues and is artificially accelerated by massive government programs such as the bill before us would establish, we may well see not only an end to the baby boom of the early 1950s, but an actual population decline resulting from a growing and officially sponsored hostility to conception.
Such declines have occurred, seriously weakening or destroying the nations involved, without the benefit of modern contraceptive techniques and without official promotion, in many significant instances in history, ranging from the last years of the western Roman Empire to 19th century France. It is noteworthy that Communist China, which has the largest population of any nation on earth and whose government certainly has the power to impose population control, has rejected this as a policy. The contraceptive mentality can mean national suicide.
The Bill before us today, brought up under suspension of the rules on the very first day after a month-long recess, would commit the U.S. government to the life prevention business at an initial cost of more than a quarter of a billion dollars. We all know from long experience with Federal programs how much this figure is certain to rise once the program is underway – with no end in sight.
The bill contains no restriction whatever on the age or the marital status of the persons who may receive contraceptives paid for by the funds it appropriates. Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher, president of Planned Parenthood-World Population, admitted in testimony before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee that his organization – which would in all likelihood receive substantial funding from the appropriations provided by this bill – now gives contraceptives to young teenage children in family life classes in several large cities. Thus it is simple truth to say – unpalatable as a blunt statement of the truth may be – that in practice it will amount to officially condoning not only fornication, but statutory rape.
We are told that the bill is intended to prevent the birth of unwanted children. What makes a child unwanted? A paper by Arthur A. Campbell, Chief of the Natality Statistics Branch, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Public Health Service, included in the transcript of the committee hearings on this bill, may serve to put this talk of unwanted children in true perspective, and to give an idea of the price some Americans now put on human life:
The prevention of 451,000 births would allow 135,000 women to work for four years. If they earned an average of only $2,000 annually (assuming that some work part-time and some work full-time), their earnings would total $8,000 each, or $7,260 when discounted to the first year at a rate of four percent. Since only 30 percent of the women are assumed to work, the additional earnings would average $2,178 per unwanted birth avoided. In this case the economic benefit is 7.8 times greater than the cost of $300 per unwanted birth avoided.
This is one of the most chilling statements I have ever read. There was a time when Americans viewed human life as priceless. Now it seems the price is down to $2,178. At this rate, how long will it be before we drop to rock bottom – the value of a few cents, or maybe a few dollars now with inflation, that has been set for the chemical constituents of a human body?
By contrast to this appalling product of the statistician’s art, I would like to share with you a most significant comment of my distinguished colleague from Kentucky, Dr. Tim Lee Carter, who – though he supported this bill in committee – had this to say in response to the witness who tried to tell the committee how mothers often hated their newly born children:
I was interested in paragraph 1 on page 6 of your testimony in which you say that – you talk about the lady, I believe, on page 5, who cursed her children or her unborn child. You know, I think that is the unusual thing. Some way or other almost every mother who gives birth to a child loves that child the moment it is born with an undying, unremitting love. It has been my fortune to deliver thousands of youngsters, and I think that statement is perhaps just a little bit on the unusual side. It may occur, but in the 27 years I was in practice, I do not believe I ever heard a mother curse an unborn child. And I hope I never do.
We are told that this bill is needed to reduce the number of illegitimate births and the medical and psychological complications for both mother and child often resulting from them. But in England, which in the past decade has launched a massive program to make contraception available to everyone, illegitimacy has substantially increased. In the 13 to 15 year age group, it has tripled.
Supposedly this bill would not now permit abortion, which its earlier version would have permitted, because of a clause inserted in the new bill drawn up after the committee hearings – a clause which was not in the bill passed by the Senate, and may not survive the conference committee. But this clause, section 1008, does not specifically define the term abortion. Consequently, its prohibition of abortion might well be interpreted not to apply to those contraceptive methods which destroy the fetus very soon after conception – methods which Dr. Sheldon J. Segal of the Biomedical Division of the Population Council in New York, testifying before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee on this bill, frankly admitted were early abortifacients. The development of abortion-inducing chemicals such as prostaglandins, also described in material presented to the committee, is further obscuring the distinction between abortion and contraception. Furthermore there is no prohibition of any kind on federally assisted sterilization as a method of family planning.
Again and again we are told that this bill is strictly voluntary, that no woman will be forced to accept contraceptives or have her babies killed, or their lives prevented, against her will.
Now I ask all of you, in the name of reason and common sense, how many more times are we going to be fooled by this perennial argument? How many more times are we going to pass bills, assuring ourselves, and everyone else who is concerned, that they are really harmless because strictly voluntary, only to come back a few years later and make them compulsory when the people have become more accustomed to the idea? Surely you all remember Federal aid to education, approved by the House just 5 years ago, with no strings attached and strictly without Federal control – or so we were told. Now we are constantly debating just how we shall go about forcing schools accepting Federal aid – which means virtually all of them now – to comply with our regulations, and how we shall go about forcing children to attend them. There was a time when collective bargaining in this country was voluntary. But then we decided that there was not enough of it, and made it compulsory. The list is endless.
I know that many of you, probably most of you, now approve of the use of Federal aid to impose certain requirements on local schools, and of mandatory collective bargaining. We are not debating those issues here today. I mention them only to show that when proponents of a massive Federal birth control program come before you and insist that they mean it to be always strictly voluntary, history shows that the exact opposite is very likely to be the eventual outcome of legislation like this.
I will ask members of the House this question: In your own careers in Congress how many bills have you seen that you have started out as voluntary measures and have them become mandatory? I served 5½ years in a state legislature, and one of the most common procedures was to change “may” to “shall.” After we put through a voluntary bill, we then moved on to make it mandatory.
I will make a prediction at this point. Mark my words. If this bill passes today, in a few years you will see “may” changed to “shall” when it is found out that the objective stated in this bill cannot be achieved by voluntary means.
Several witnesses at the hearings on this bill made it very clear that they advocate a voluntary birth control program only so long as it works. If it does not work to their satisfaction, they will go to a compulsory program. They leave no place for the alternative of the rejection of the contraceptive mentality by a free, life-loving people.
As Dr. John R. McCain of Atlanta, GA said in testimony on this bill before the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee:
Family planning on a voluntary basis is the most acceptable approach. Unless voluntary methods are successful, actual control of population by compulsory measures may be resorted to at some future time.
And to quote again from Dr. Segal’s testimony:
There are people, serious demographers, who believe that the population growth rate, the population problems in general in this country, can create problems that can only be solved by strong line methods, by giving up the concept of voluntarism and regulating the number of children people can have, by coercion, by legislative means that will be economically coercive, and so on.
Now, I feel that we must give voluntary family planning a chance to prove whether or not it can bring us to a zero population growth level. We have not given it a chance.
Dr. McCain further explained how funds appropriated under this bill would be used to propagandize for contraception, to change attitudes in its favor, and to put pressure on people to prevent births:
Psychological and sociological research is required to determine the methods of motivating the population, male and female, to initiate effective family planning and to utilize the methods consistently… We have had in the experience of our program in the Atlanta area what they have spoken of sometimes as the Madison Avenue approach. In other words, by no means that it is terrifying or fearful, but that it is the thing to do. In other words, the popular thing for the patient after she has delivered, if she has not begun on family planning at that time to be sure that she returns. The pressure of her peers by their questions. “You have not started on your pills yet?” Or, “You have not had your IUD put in yet?” The concern of the block area, the community area, that anybody that does not do that is just not quite up on the current way of doing things.
In view of all this explicit testimony, I frankly cannot put much stock in the many pious disclaimers of coercive intent on the part of the proponents of this bill. Rather, I regard it as a long step toward a Nazi-like tyranny in our land. When government gets into bed with you, surely that is the ultimate in government control.
Finally, the most grotesque argument for this bill is that it will somehow help in the fight against pollution, as is indicated in the testimony of organizations such as the Sierra Club in support of it. A moment’s though should make it perfectly clear that a single human being, simply by being alive, produces negligible pollution. It is technology that pollutes, not people. We can, and we must, bring under control those technological excesses and processes which are dangerously befouling our air and water. We should not, and must not, let ourselves be persuaded to try to eliminate pollution by eliminating people.
I ask my colleagues who have the interest of the poor, and of our minority groups especially close to their hearts, to think very carefully about who profits and who suffers by this approach to our pollution problem. The people at whom this bill is specifically aimed are the poor – and less specifically, the minorities. Are they to be made scapegoats and victims of a problem arising from our great industries? As Msg. Alphonse Popek of Milwaukee, WI said in testifying on this bill:
Pollution, though existent, is the convenient smokescreen for the sinister business of eliminating people. ‘People cause pollution – pollution is bad – therefore eliminate people.’ Which people? All people? It seems that non-quality people are the transgressors. But who is to identify these non-quality people? Does it not seem that the present bill provides for government working through its highest and lowest departments and through funding of individual and private agencies to make the final determination? Little people do cause pollution, yet there are many vested interests in this country which cause even greater and more serious physical pollution, and some of these interests are known and some are yet to be determined. All must be stopped by every technological and scientific effort before human life is to be snuffed out at any point along the spectrum of existence. My concern relates to the removal of truly dangerous pollutants which would not only contaminate the clear streams of morality, and the pure air of religious freedom, but the human rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I can find no better words with which to conclude than those eloquently spoken by a Wisconsin housewife, Mrs. Alvin Emmons, who traveled 2,000 miles to come to Washington to testify against the bill in committee. Listen to her. I am convinced that she voices the heartfelt protest of the best and soundest instincts of our people, on this legislation:
It is neither the function nor the purpose of government to sponsor or promote programs of population control. Government’s proper role is to protect the lives of all its citizens including the unborn and to protect the right of the citizens to transmit life. Passage of this law will only add to the irresponsibility and over-permissiveness which seems to be running rampant in all areas of living today. We urge you to vote against this bill and ask rather that you exert every effort to protect the home and family and the very right to life. The time is NOW to stop the tearing down of the home and family through the passage of any immoral or amoral laws.
Yesterday evening, Representative Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) took the oath of office. By my calculation, he is the 2,000th voting member of Congress that has served since the Roe v. Wade decision of January 22, 1973.**
Since time immemorial, pro-life activists have told the world that Roe was an undemocratic ruling – that it unjustly took the abortion law away from the people and their elected representatives. And yet, for 40 years, it has been a constant topic of debate in American politics. Nearly every one of the 2,000 men and women to have served in Congress since the decision has had to take a public position on the ruling. What other Supreme Court decision can you say that about? Is there any judicial opinion in American history which has so relentlessly been subjected to democratic election and debate?
It’s time to stop blaming the Court. No Justice from the Roe Court remains on the Court today. Every Justice now sitting on the Court was confirmed by Senators elected long after abortion became a political issue. Opportunity after opportunity to stop pro-choice judges arose. And in each case, the democratically elected Senate, representing the voice of the people, gave these pro-abortion judges lifetime tenure.
Neither has there been any shortage of time to pass some sort of Constitutional amendment. Indeed, Senate committee hearings on such an amendment were conducted in 1974, 1975, 1981, and 1983. The House had committee hearings in 1976. Collectively, they are impressively thorough. Only in 1983 did the committee see fit to send an amendment to the entire Congress for approval. It was not a pure right to life amendment, but it did at least give the states the power to ban abortion. Only 49 Senators voted yes – well short of the 2/3rds needed for passage.
More recently, in 1999 and 2003, the Senate passed symbolic resolutions which declared approval of the Roe ruling. And pro-life forces in the Senate have only dwindled since those years.
There have been a small handful of legislative victories. During the Bush years, the Born Alive Infants Protection Act passed. But even this paltry achievement is somewhat tarnished by having a current President who opposes it. The Bush years also gave us the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which took a decade to pass, and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which expressly disclaimed any intent to limit or curb legal abortion. Real achievements, but mere pittance in the face of more than 50 million casualties.
By far the most significant victory came in the limitation of taxpayer funded abortions. But even this consensus appears to be falling apart. Prior to the Clinton years, tax dollars were forbidden even for rape and incest abortions. When George W. Bush replaced Clinton in 2001, Congress never even attempted to eliminate the new rape and incest exceptions. These days, there is talk of eliminating the Hyde amendment altogether.
Just yesterday, Rasmussen released a new poll about abortion. 54% of respondents called themselves pro-choice, and only 38% of respondents called themselves pro-life. Polls haven’t been that bad for our side since the early ’90s. You can debate the precise accuracy of the poll, but you cannot deny that a majority of Americans favor legal abortion. For forty years, this nation has wanted killing, and the 2,000 men and women democratically elected to Congress have done nothing more than reflect this consensus.
**This is not counting Richard McIntyre (R-IN), who won a seat in 1984, voted for Speaker, but then was denied the chance to take the oath of office. I don’t have time to go into the details, but essentially the Democratic controlled House brazenly stole McIntyre’s seat. Let that be a lesson to anyone who still thinks Congressional Democrats are basically honest and decent human beings.
It looked so simple back in 1973.
Less than three months earlier, Nixon had tarred McGovern as the candidate of abortion. He won 49 states. Referendums in Michigan and North Dakota rejected plans to liberalize the life-of-mother-only abortion laws in those states. In both referendums, the pro-life vote actually ran ahead of the vote for Nixon. Massachusetts, the one state which went for McGovern, was in the process of amending their Constitution to make unborn life even more legally secure. Even in New York, the legislature was now attempting to repeal its 1970 abortion-on-demand law. In December, 1972, National Review even ran a brief editorial lauding the apparent death of the “feticide” movement in America.
Then in January came Roe v. Wade, which was more radical than both New York’s law, and McGovern’s position in the recent election. Surely this decision would be overturned quickly by Constitutional amendment. And if not, surely voters would elect pro-life Congressmen at the earliest possible opportunity to pass such an amendment.
Well, not exactly.
Abortion did make a difference in one of the first post-Roe races. In early 1974, a special election was held in a Republican leaning district in Ohio. Tom Luken, the Democrat, pledged to back a right to life amendment. William Keating, the Republican, hedged. Luken won, but the victory was short-lived; when the election for a full term came around in November, Keating triumphed in the rematch.
A few states over in Kansas, Bob Dole narrowly edged out William Roy in a Senate election. For years afterward, Roy blamed his loss on the abortion issue. And yet the Dole-Roy contest was the exception. Everywhere else, the legally sanctioned execution of babies was essentially a non-issue. More important in the minds of most voters, apparently, was a trivial hotel break-in more than two years earlier.
We come now, to the great trophy of pro-life political activism: the Iowa Senate race of 1978. For more than 30 years, this race has been cited as proof of a pro-life voting bloc’s potential power. Democrat Dick Clark won an upset victory in 1972, and proceeded to become a loyal pro-choice vote for the ensuing six years. Republicans ran Roger Jepsen, a minimally talented candidate with little to recommend him other than a solid commitment to the right to life movement. Indeed, Jepsen’s campaign against Clark consisted of almost nothing else. He targeted heavily Democratic regions of the state with pro-life advertising, and in the end, enough Democrats crossed party lines to put Jepsen over the top.
For the next several weeks, the national media engaged in extensive concern trolling about the horrors of single-issue voting. How heartbreaking that such a hardworking Senator was thrown out because voters disagreed with him on one issue! Thankfully, Iowa paid no heed, and repeated the same performance two years later, ousting pro-choice Senator John Culver in favor of pro-life challenger Chuck Grassley.
But then, sometime in the early ’80s, Iowans finally did embrace the media’s advice, and got sick of making every election about abortion. In 1984, when Roger Jepsen ran for re-election, the issue played virtually no role in his loss to the virulently pro-choice Tom Harkin.
Single-issue voting returned with a vengeance in 1990, when Harkin ran for re-election. In contrast to the indomitably liberal Harkin, Republican candidate Tom Tauke was a moderate on virtually every issue. Except for abortion, that is. Like Roger Jepsen in 1978, Tom Harkin centered his campaign around abortion, but this time it was Tauke’s pro-life stance which was supposed to offend the majority of Iowa voters. Harkin’s gamble paid off, and Tauke went down to defeat. In twelve years, Iowa had undergone a complete 180.
With each passing year, the luster of Jepsen’s 1978 triumph dims a bit more. For whatever reason, voters will not throw out a Congressman just because he or she is pro-choice. Probably the saddest example of this general rule was former Texas Representative Chet Edwards. Edwards supported partial-birth abortion, and yet his lopsidedly conservative district sent him back to Congress time after time. It took the wave election of 2010 for Edwards to finally go down.
These days, it seems the only elections swung by the abortion issue are swung in favor of the pro-choice candidate. Akin. Mourdock. I need say nothing else. Voters will not send supporters of partial-birth abortion packing, but they will deny support to opponents of rape and incest exceptions.
Pro-choice candidates for president have now taken the majority of the popular vote in 5 out the last 6 elections. What’s that? Polls say that 50% call themselves “pro-life” and only 41% call themselves “pro-choice”? Well, you can keep your polls. I prefer to let the American electorate’s actions at the ballot box speak for themselves. Whatever the polls say, fellow travelers, I can tell you only this: we’re not in 1978 Iowa any more.
God is finished with America.
On November 6, a chorus of 60 million voters shouted “Give us Barabbas!” And Barabbas they were given.
I myself was blindsided. I blithely assumed Mitt would pull it off. After all, America has been crying “Give us Barabbas!” for a long time. About 250 years by my count. And until now, God had always given America mercy and prosperity it did not deserve.
And yet, deep down, I knew that it wouldn’t last forever. A nation reaps what it sows. God is not mocked. Our so-called courts of justice have given blessing to the execution of 55 million innocents and counting. The true miracle is that America’s gravy train of relative happiness and comfort lasted as long as it did.
There is no turning back from 2012. Obamacare is here to stay, freedom of religion is mere months away from extinction, the Supreme Court will soon have a rock-solid liberal majority, and jobs and money will continue to grow scarcer. Scary times are coming. Like every other great empire in history, America will collapse.
On January 22, 2013, the Biblically symbolic 40th anniversary of Roe arrives. The lead story in the newspapers on that day will be a report of Obama’s second inauguration. Frankly, I can’t think of a more grimly appropriate and fitting end to the first forty years in the wilderness. A novelist couldn’t have scripted it better.
Meanwhile in the Senate, Democrat Joe Donnelly will be settling in. He will be Senator because the heavily Republican electorate of Indiana preferred him to Richard Mourdock. And why? Because Mourdock made the unpardonable offense of stating that every life is a gift from God. Could there be any more poignant illustration of the pro-life movement’s utter failure to touch the conscience of America during the last 40 years?
Presiding over the Senate will be Vice President Joe Biden. Biden joined Congress less than a month before the Roe decision. Although a Catholic, he supported the decision because he valued the state more than God. And he was re-elected Vice President on Tuesday because a majority of American Catholics shared this prioritization.
Thousands of years ago, Moses instructed the Israelites to choose life. Instead, the Israelites chose death. And the result? Just read the book of Lamentations. After that, Israel did not re-emerge as a nation for 2,500 years. Americans too, have chosen death. Probably, we will not even be so lucky as Israel.