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Reality should temper desire to 'celebrate' abortion rights

Based on a lie, Roe decision gives cover even to late-term, sex-selection abortions

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 7:46 am

In Philadelphia last week, a 72-year-old man was on trial for his life, charged with snipping the spines of “fetuses” who – having been born alive past the 24th week of gestation – were supposed to have been off-limits to Pennsylvania abortionists.

At IPFW, meanwhile, Women's History Month began with an event billed as “4,000 years for choice: artwork to celebrate abortion rights and reproductive justice.”

As a nurse in training, however, the president of IPFW Students for Life figures women can point to plenty of legitimate accomplishments with “celebrating” something she says has degraded – not liberated – women.

"(Some supporters) of abortion say the unborn are human, but unless the mother gives consent they have no rights,” said Michelle Landrigan, 20, a junior. “With increases in science and technology, we know that the unborn are human from the moment of conception. Their DNA is intact.”

IPFW's Women's Studies Program said it chose this month's theme – “Women's Reproductive Rights: A Historical and Global Perspective” to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision, which discovered a long-overlooked right to abortion lurking in constitutional penumbras. But it's one thing to insist, as many supporters have, that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” It's quite another to “celebrate” a dubious legal decision that continues to divide the country and has created the kind of ghoulish conditions that allegedly existed in the Philadelphia clinic run by “Dr.” Kermit Gosnell.

In court last week, medical assistant Adrienne Moton admitted she had cut the necks of at least 10 babies after they had been delivered at Gosnell's instruction. One baby – believed to be at least 30 weeks old – was so big Gosnell joked he could have walked to the bus stop, a sobbing Moton testified.

All causes have their extremists. But the National Rifle Association does not celebrate Americans who abuse their Second Amendment rights. Tea party groups do not celebrate the likes of Tim McVeigh, whose alleged patriotism and aversion to big government caused him to murder 168 people in Oklahoma City in 1995. Nor do legitimate pro-life groups celebrate zealots who resort to deadly violence.

On the contrary, those and other movements disavow such extremists precisely because their deeds undermine the very causes they were supposedly intended to promote.

But if supporters of abortion rights are not openly celebrating Gosnell, neither are they vocally condemning him. The website of NARAL, formerly the National Abortion Rights Action League, does not even mention his name and in fact reiterates the organization's opposition to any law seeking to limit abortion without making allowances for “women's health” – a loophole big enough to drive a 30-week-old baby through.

Even President Obama has seemed ambivalent when it comes to late-term (or “partial birth”) abortions. According to the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, which bills itself as non-partisan, Obama opposed bills as an Illinois state senator that would have given legal protection to any fetus that survived abortion. Obama claimed he did so because the bills could have undermined Roe vs. Wade but would have supported a bill that explicitly protected abortion rights, as the 2002 federal late-term-abortion bill did. But in 2003 Obama voted against such a bill in committee.

Landrigan insists the “Women's Studies Program could have easily found prominent accomplishments of women to celebrate. Modern history alone has given us female trailblazers like suffragist Susan B. Anthony, who once warned women that having an abortion would “burden her conscience in life (and) her soul in death. But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime.”

Today, irresponsible men applaud abortion perhaps loudest of all. And with a few exceptions, the act is no longer a crime but something to celebrated by anyone who does not want to be accused of waging a “war on women.”

Landrigan, who said 80 percent of her group's members are women, disagrees. So does Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger. “Nothing is more of a 'war on women' than abortion,” she said, noting that sex-selection abortions targeting girls are on the rise worldwide.

Of course, the very decision IPFW is lauding this month was in fact based on a fabrication. Only after the court announced its Roe decision did it become known that Norma McCorvey had lied about becoming pregnant through a rape, hoping to qualify for an abortion under Texas law. She later converted to Christianity and the pro-life cause.

IPFW is apparently not celebrating that.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Kevin Leininger at, or call him at 461-8355.