I turned on my television Thursday morning and heard a beating heart.
It was the beautiful, vulnerable sound of an unborn baby’s still-developing heart, transmitted by ultrasound. “We don’t know her eye color,” the voiceover said. “Whether she’ll be a redhead or brunette. We haven’t seen her toes, fingers, or nose. But through the science of genomics we can look forward and begin to care for her future. With predictive-medicine research and world-class physicians we are delivering more individualized care than ever.” The ad was for a medical group in northern Virginia. “Join the future of health,” the commercial urged.
It was quite the paradox that later that same day, the House of Representatives voted down a bill to prohibit sex-selective abortion. “Nobody supports sex-selective abortion,” critics insisted. But a search for the missing girls around the world tells a different story — as does a click on one of Live Action’s new undercover videos, reminding us that brutality and unjust laws are not foreign to America.
Directed by brave young Lila Rose, one of the latest investigative videos shows a woman in Planned Parenthood’s flagship clinic in Manhattan explaining that she has been married for seven years, has a daughter, and now wants a son. Just as Live Action has encountered before, a Planned Parenthood worker doesn’t flinch in the facilitation of a sex-selective abortion.
Did someone say something about a war on women? Live Action just exposed one. Did someone say something about “equal rights”? President Obama has been heralded as a great defender of women’s rights, and his disingenuous Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act has been applauded as a seminal victory for liberal feminist demands. However, Obama opposed the legislation to prohibit sex-selective abortion.
Lila Rose’s new video came soon after yet another onslaught of “War on Women” diatribes from the paper of record for both the abortion industry and President Obama’s reelection campaign, the New York Times. For days, one of the most-read pieces on its website was a weekend entreaty against Republicans who supposedly have it in for women. The Times recruited her vision of Jesus as a brother in arms, with columnist Maureen Dowd explaining that the Catholic Church has strayed far from its Founder. “Father” really doesn’t know best, Dowd suggested; Pope Benedict is clinging to an archaic and impractical teaching. Meanwhile, an editorial decried an “angry” floor speech by John Boehner, in which the speaker of the House “said claims that his party was damaging the welfare of women were ‘entirely created’ by Democrats.”
Boehner is correct, and he’s right to be angry. He wasn’t talking about abortion that day, instead focusing on freedom: namely, the freedom to freely practice your religion outside your house of worship, a freedom that this White House has decided it has the power to grant or withhold. These things are not unrelated. It’s no surprise that, four decades into the regime of legal abortion, we have a weakened national commitment to our unalienable, God-given right to life and liberty.
John Boehner took to the House floor in defense of religious liberty in the face of its unprecedented erosion, as church institutions and individual Americans were faced with a government mandate forcing them to violate their religious principles. The issue of sex-selective abortion is similar: It involves a demand that we look away and ignore our responsibility to protect the dignity of some of our fellow citizens. Not so long ago, we were a people that led the way on such things — a beacon for human rights and freedom. But you’re not free, under this administration, if you’re Notre Dame, or a businessman who happens to be Catholic and whose conscience requires more commitment than simply attending Mass on Sundays. Even though we talk a good talk about “social justice” for the most vulnerable, we all too often look away as a life is a rendered a casualty of “choice,” and turn a blind eye to taxpayer funding that is much too close to the facilitation of such a “choice.” Now, shamefully, a mandate treads there, too.
The White House claimed that the legislation against sex-selective abortion — which failed because it was brought up in a procedure that required a two-thirds rather than a simple-majority vote — would intrude on private medical decisions and force doctors to be “mind readers.” On these grounds, the president of the United States opposed the bill. Similar things are claimed whenever anyone tries to restrict or regulate abortions. We’re now living in a country that is increasingly comfortable with injustice, against those deemed unworthy of Constitutional protection — we’re all too casual about eliminating the inconvenient, and not quite marching on Washington in response to fines on faith.
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John Boehner went to the House floor and said “No” to the last of these. He insisted that “if the president does not reverse the attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must.” That’s not the leader of a party attacking women, but one who seeks to remind us who we used to and still can be. You don’t have to agree with him on abortion or much of anything else, frankly, to know something isn’t quite right here. That’s why a little anger is called for, as principles that have distinguished us are compromised, and as what should be common ground is chipped away by radical policies and cynical politics.
We may not know that baby’s eye color, but we can protect her right to be born in a country where being free still isn’t all that radical a notion.
— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. This column is available exclusively through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.