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Liberal feminist Democrats are as mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more. That was their angry-in-Planned-Parenthood-pink message on Capitol Hill during their anti-Stupak lobbying day last Thursday.
As we approach the Christmas season, Bart Stupak was their Herod. The pro-life Democratic congressman from Michigan had authored an amendment that would keep abortion out of the Democratic party’s health-care revolution. The amendment is a protection against taxpayers’ money being used to finance abortions. (So, ironically, this “Herod” isn’t killing the youngest; he is saving them.) But for these angry women — and some fellow-traveling men — the hopes and dreams and singular obsession of the feminist revolution are on the line: the Supreme Court–issued right to an abortion.
Looking at it from their perspective, it’s not hard to see why they are so angry. Here they are with many presents promised by their presidential Santa sitting, waiting — passed on the House side of the Hill’s holiday tree. The federal government and the entitlements this new legislation will dish out are expanding; the middle class will become more deeply dependent on the government’s medical priorities. Washington is so very important! These should be the best days of their legislating lives.
And yet . . . only a year ago pro-lifers were organizing against an overreaching Freedom of Choice Act that would ultimately put the continued existence of Catholic hospitals, among others, in jeopardy. Barack Obama had won the presidency, having promised abortion-rights activists a great deal. The Democrats had strengthened their hold over both houses of Congress. At an operational level, they should really own Washington, D.C. — being able to set the agenda and get some serious lefty work done. But that hasn’t been the story, on a full range of issues, from cap-and-trade to Afghanistan, with health-care reform proving to be more arduous than many anticipated. A year later, the feminists are facing the possibility of a socialized health-care revolution not covering the medical sacrament they consider most holy.
And so here they are fighting, they argue, to protect the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Fondly recalling that 1973 ruling, New York congressman Jerry Nadler told the abortion rally on the Hill: “If anyone had told me then that we would have been fighting the same fight I would have been very depressed.” He explained: “The only fight that has been going on longer [than the abortion fight] is the fight for health care for all.” He insisted to those gathered that Democrats “cannot compromise one for the other because they are two sides of the same coin.”
Abortion, they say, wasn’t supposed to be an issue in the health-care debate. By which they mean: The revolution must include abortion. “Reproductive rights are human rights” is the way Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, put it. Abortion is, in fact, a “God-given right,” according to the Rev. Carlton Veazey, a Baptist minister and the president and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Those who oppose abortion, of course, agree with them on the first part of that assertion, the “keep abortion out” mantra. However, the abortion advocates insist that it is “gender discrimination” to treat abortion as something other than just another medical procedure. They view the House version of the health-care bill as a “rollback” of women’s rights. The problem is: If you want government to take over health care in America, you can’t avoid stirring up this issue. Because the life-ending, do-harm “medical procedure” of abortion is legal — either you avoid government financial entanglement with it or you don’t, and, if you don’t, you violate the conscience rights of millions of Americans.
Republicans — the party with the pro-life platform — couldn’t have successfully raised those moral objections without allies among the Democrats, of course. And so the success of the Stupak amendment — sponsored, of course, by a Democrat — makes the Left all the angrier. And also nervous.
Which is why, to close their rally on the Hill, Dr. Veazey invoked not only the civil-rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr., but also God the Almighty Himself. Dr. Veazey, along with others at the rally, held the Catholic bishops up to scorn.
“We are also here to call out the U.S. Conference of [Catholic] Bishops, because no one religion, no theological perspective should get the kind of weight that they can [to] put pressure on the Congress,” Dr. Veazey told those gathered last Wednesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, sounding very much the preacher, here with one of Caesar’s thrones as his pulpit. “We in the religious community resent,” he said, the fact that the bishops can “hold the whole Congress up and say, ‘If we don’t get our way, we will work against health reform.’” Dr. Veazey insisted: “We believe that no religion should carry that kind of weight in legislation.”
But he and the others for whom abortion advocacy takes on a religious fervor believe their threats should carry that kind of weight. With the support of MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, the Service Employees International Union, and a bevy of other liberal groups, they warned that there will be electoral hell to pay should they not get their way. And that position is one you won’t see them aborting. With God as their cover.
Copyright 2009, Kathryn Jean Lopez. Distributed by Newspaper Enterprise Association.