Abortion advocates around the world and particularly in the United States are increasingly abandoning their professed political and moral adherence to “choice,” and instead adopting an agenda of coercion. Nowhere is this dangerous and calculated shift more evident than in their utter disdain for the freedom and fundamental rights of citizens who disagree with them.
Those who are quick to argue that abortion is a universal human right protected by both international and domestic law are equally quick to disregard longstanding legal and moral principles when these revered standards impede their radical pro-abortion agenda. For abortion advocates, seminal documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted after the devastation of the Second World War, are to be ignored when they seek “the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief” as the “highest aspiration of the common people.”
For example, France has criminalized “obstruction to abortion” for more than 15 years, prohibiting “moral and psychological pressure searching to hinder abortion.” Pro-life French citizens are not permitted to attempt to dissuade women from having abortions or to hold public demonstrations near facilities providing abortions. Under this law, an elderly and nearly blind man was fined for giving knitted baby booties to a woman in the stairway of a building housing Planned Parenthood.
But this was not enough for abortion advocates who want to completely eradicate pro-life voices from the public square. With their encouragement, French president François Hollande just signed into law a measure that prohibits any person or website from posting information on alternatives to abortion or espousing the belief that abortion is immoral. Violations of the new law are punishable by two years in prison and a €30,000 fine.
French officials are conspicuously prioritizing abortion over a central principle enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted in 1789 following the French Revolution. Article 11 of this historic and influential human-rights charter provides that the “free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man.”
Sadly, in seeking to methodically strip its pro-life citizens of their most basic rights, the French are in good company. An Australian woman’s conviction for peacefully displaying an image of an aborted baby outside a Melbourne abortion clinic was recently upheld, while pro-life students at some of England’s most prestigious universities regularly face ostracism and censorship. Not to be outdone, abortion advocates in the United States are actively seeking to deny pro-life Americans their constitutional rights.
Pro-life displays on college campuses are routinely vandalized, most recently in California, Colorado, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Crosses representing lost unborn lives are kicked over, signs displaying pro-life messages are methodically destroyed, and pro-life students are even physically attacked.
At the behest of NARAL and other abortion advocates, the free-speech rights of pregnancy centers in California, Illinois, and Maryland have been infringed by laws forcing them to promote abortion. Connecticut and Hawaii are currently considering similar legislation.
Abortion advocates in the United States are actively seeking to deny pro-life Americans their constitutional rights.
Planned Parenthood and its allies ensured that Obamacare included a mandate that most employer-provided health-insurance plans cover life-ending drugs and devices without regard to religious, moral, or conscientious objections to such a requirement. Under the so-called HHS mandate, the First Amendment rights of Catholic nuns, Baptist colleges, and other groups and organizations were deliberately trampled.
The ACLU continues to file lawsuits seeking to force Catholic and other religiously affiliated hospitals to provide abortions, artificial contraception, sterilizations, and other controversial and objectionable procedures. Abortion advocates of all stripes also seek the elimination of federal and state laws that protect the freedom of conscience of medical providers and others who object to providing or participating in such services, ultimately seeking to force providers to choose between their consciences and maintaining their careers and their families’ livelihoods.
More than 200 years ago, James Madison wrote, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments . . . than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
Today, we are seeing an incremental, steady, and covert campaign by abortion advocates and their allies to silence those who actively oppose or even disagree with their militant agenda of abortion-on-demand, at any time, for any reason, and at taxpayer expense. By their extreme and desperate actions, abortion proponents are, in fact, tacitly admitting that medical science and public opinion are against them and that the abortion debate is turning inextricably toward affirming and valuing life.
Pro-life advocates and those who value individual rights must expose and resist these insidious efforts to strip Americans and others around the world of their most precious freedoms. Nothing less than life and liberty hangs in the balance.
— Denise M. Burke is the vice president of legal affairs at Americans United for Life.