Bill Clinton famously said he didn’t like abortion, and only wanted to make it “safe, legal and rare.” The abortion lobby picked it up as a nice slogan, and used it often. But that was then and this is now. The abortion lobby is proposing now in Hawaii that “pro-life counselors” be required to recruit young women for abortions.
Legislation is percolating through the state legislature in Honolulu to require pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers, typically housed in churches, staffed with volunteers and operating entirely with private donations, to disclose the availability of enrollment information for reproductive health services, “reproductive health services” being the sanitized euphemism for “abortion services.”
The pro-life centers, unlike Planned Parenthood, get no money from taxpayers. They provide counseling, along with material and financial support, to low-income women coping with unintended pregnancies.
The centers argue that complying with such a law would violate the religious teachings of churches that support the pro-life centers and violate the First Amendment’s free-speech rights of those who work in the pro-life centers.
Nevertheless, the legislation sailed through the Hawaii Senate this month by a vote of 22 to 3, with no Republican votes. There are nothing but Democrats in the Senate. The Hawaii House has yet to vote, but the legislation is expected to have an easy time of it inasmuch as the state House has just six Republicans among its 51 members.
“Our particular pro-life center is in our church, so it’s very important to realize that they are dictating to us what we [must] say and cannot say,” the Rev. Derald Skinner, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor, says in a video posted online. “Will they give me my sermon [text] next and tell me what I can preach?”
That’s not the over-the-top rhetorical question it might appear at first blush. In September 2014, amid a referendum campaign to repeal a homosexual-rights ordinance in Houston, the Democratic mayor attempted to subpoena sermons of religious leaders opposed to repeal before they could preach the sermons. The attempt to monitor the sermons failed.
Critics of the Hawaii legislation note that the legislation does not require that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers disclose information about compassionate alternatives to an abortion.
Similar laws are on the books in California and Illinois. The California law is under challenge now in federal court as a violation of free-speech rights. Several pro-life centers argue that it’s akin to the state government forcing them “to provide free advertising for the abortion industry.” Laws similar to the Hawaii legislation have been overturned by federal district courts in Maryland and New York.
“Safe, legal and rare” has been all but forgotten on the left, where an abortion is regarded as something positive. So why should it be rare? It’s as if it’s a young woman’s rite of passage — to be not merely allowed by the state, but encouraged. The struggle continues.