Our new president-elect has not equivocated in his reverence for abortion rights. Speaking at a Planned Parenthood event on July 17, 2007, Barack Obama pledged that his first act as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. It is the most radical attack yet on the deep beliefs of millions of American pro-lifers.
As Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a champion of the bill, exulted: "Women would have the absolute right to choose whether to continue or terminate their pregnancies before fetal viability, and that right would be protected by this legislation. The Freedom of Choice Act also supersedes any law, regulation or local ordinance that impinges on a woman's right to choose," she said. With regard to "fetal viability" - the ability to survive on his or her own - the ardent supporters of FOCA slide over the language in the surviving 2007 version of FOCA bill that, as Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee points out, "contains no objective criteria for 'viability,' but rather, requires that the judgment regarding 'viability' be left entirely in the hands of 'the attending physician.' "
Guess who that would be? The abortionist! There's more. The restrictions on "the absolute right to choose" would also apply even after "viability" if a woman wanted to abort what would undeniably be seen during pregnancy as a baby in ultrasound for reasons of her health.
But the Supreme Court in 1973 (the same year as Roe v. Wade) in Doe v. Bolton defined very broadly "health" justification for aborting a viable human being, as "physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age." This was nearly a blank check to dispose of that aborted person.
It's no wonder that Mr. Obama opposed the Supreme Court decision that eventually ruled against the lawfulness of "partial-birth abortion," which the late Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (who was pro-choice) said was infanticide.
The rabidly pro-abortion Freedom of Choice Act Mr. Obama supports would - unless there is an unlikely successful filibuster in the Democratic controlled Senate - invalidate parental-notification laws; any state's requirement of full disclosure of the physical and emotional risks inherent in abortion; and (can you believe this?) all laws prohibiting medical personnel other than licensed physicians from performing abortions because such restrictions might "interfere" with access to this absolute right to abortion.
This is respect for women? As of now, before our abortion president gets his wish, 26 states have informed-consent laws, 36 have parental-involvement laws and 34 states have restrictions on funding for abortions.
Also disposed of will be the "conscience rights" in many states. They include, Mr. Johnson reminds us, "all laws allowing doctors, nurses or other state-licensed professionals, and hospitals or other health care providers, to decline to provide or pay for abortions." What about religiously based hospitals and clinics that refuse to perform abortions? At presidential press conferences, can we depend on at least some members of the Washington press corps to ask Mr. Obama about that provision or the others I've cited? Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, heralded the election of Mr. Obama as "a new birth of freedom." Not, however, for the early-stage human beings - each with his or her own distinct DNA - who, under this law, could never become citizens.
Matt Bowman, an attorney with the pro-life Alliance Defense Fund, projects that if FOCA is passed into law (Lifenews.com, Sept. 24), there will be an increase in abortion "by 125,000 per year" in the United States because of the abolition of laws in states that have parental involvement, informed-consent laws and funding restrictions. "Even with this minimum," Mr. Bowman adds, "that's 125,000 children that were not killed this year because we (still) have these laws, and 125,000 (added to the existing 1.3 million abortions) who will be killed in 2009" and beyond.
On Jan. 22, 2008, the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Mr. Obama said with pride: "Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice and have consistently had a 100 percent pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America ... To truly honor (Roe v. Wade), we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves and their children from violent relationships."
What, Mr. President, can be more violent than murder by abortion? Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, said on Nov. 11 (Lifenews.com) that "his dream of full equality remains just a dream as long as unborn children continue to be treated no better than property. The elections are over. The pro-life battle begins anew."
Nat Hentoff's column for The Washington Times appears on Mondays.