A GOOD START, A WARNING SHOT, AND TROUBLE AHEAD
I deeply appreciate your message and your work.
We share a great goal: to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. We know this will not come easily, or all at once. But the goal leads us onward: to build a culture of life, affirming that every person, at every stage and season of life, is created equal in God's image.
The promises of the Declaration of Independence are not just for the strong, the independent, or the healthy. They are for everyone--including unborn children.
All of you marching today have never tired in a good cause. Thank you for your conviction, your idealism, and your courage. May God bless you all.
--President George W. Bush, message to March for Life participants, January 22, 2001
A GOOD START
Coming into office, our new president promised to "change the tone" in Washington. With this message he got off to a splendid start. We have been waiting for such a presidential message for eight long years. So we have reason to enjoy the moment. But now we must get back to work, because--as the President says--"this will not come easily, or all at once."
President George W. Bush did not waste any time joining
us in our work. One of his first acts in office was to issue an executive order
restoring the "Mexico City Policy," first promulgated by President
Reagan and then rescinded by Bill Clinton. Under the policy, organizations
promoting abortion in foreign countries will no longer get a subsidy from the
American taxpayer for such activities.
A WARNING SHOT
The pro-abortionists' insincere accusations of "censorship" in response to the President's executive order were quite predictable. The pro-abortionists (supported by their friends in the media) subscribe to the nonsensical notion that their right to free speech comes with a "right" to a government subsidy promoting their goals. And this from the same people who look for every opportunity to enlist the government and the courts in the suppression of the free-speech rights of pro-lifers.
This part of the pro-abortionists' PR campaign, however, was just a sideshow. The real goal was to flex the muscle residing in the "progressive" pro-abortion wing of the political spectrum. And the vehicle for that was the battle over the confirmation of former Senator John Ashcroft as the new Attorney General.
The senators conducting the confirmation hearing and voting in the full Senate knew, of course, that John Ashcroft is a " straight arrow," a man of distinction and integrity, and a man of accomplishment and competence. They knew that he would act in welcome and much needed contrast to his hapless and incompetent predecessor. And they knew he would be confirmed in the end. But his confirmation offered the opportunity to smear--once again-- people of faith ("the religious right"), pro-lifers, and people who hold the opposite of what one might call "Clinton-values." Senator Ashcroft was the proxy for "such people," and so he got " borked."
Aside from the sadistic pleasure of "borking" Senator Ashcroft, his unfair critics had much more important political goals: to frighten future nominees and to demonstrate that they could sustain a Democratic filibuster blocking nominees holding views similar to Senator Ashcroft's. The fevered work of a coalition of extremist organizations and the large sums of money expended on PR campaigns smearing Ashcroft and threatening Democratic senators who contemplated voting for him did the trick.
Forty-two Democratic senators voted against Ashcroft--one more than needed to sustain a filibuster. The pro-abortion Democratic leadership in the Senate must be pleased. And the pro-abortion pressure groups have seen the pay-off from their massive investment and effort in the senatorial races of this past election.
We have been warned. Getting good appointees to the bench confirmed will be very hard work. For starters we need to write and thank those senators who voted for Senator Ashcroft's confirmation and politely, but firmly, express our disappointment and disagreement in letters to those senators who participated in the "borking" of Ashcroft or validated the smears by voting against him.
TROUBLE AHEAD: CAMPAIGN FINANCE "REFORM"
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
These 29 words guarantee you the right to join with other pro- lifers and form politically and culturally effective associations (such as NRLC) for the purpose of disseminating the right-to-life message and lobbing Congress.
These 29 words prohibit Congress from passing laws "abridging" these freedoms and rights. Yet, once again, misguided "reformers" and "speech nannies" are proposing precisely such a law.
The 38 pages(!) of the "Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001" (S. 27) introduced by Senators John McCain (R-Az.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wi.) would effectively nullify the rights proclaimed in these 29 words of the First Amendment.
How can this be? you say. The dirty deed is to be done mostly by (1) redefining "issue advocacy," which has the highest degree of First Amendment protection, as "electioneering communication" and (2) making it practically impossible to engage independently in effective "express advocacy" through a political action committee (PAC).
"Issue advocacy" is what NRLC primarily does: educational campaigns about partial-birth abortion, lobbying on laws affecting the right to life, informing the public about the stances and voting records of candidates for office, etc.
"Express advocacy" is the work of campaigns and PACs that in " express" or specific language urge a vote for or against candidates. NRL PAC does such work, usually without "coordination" with any candidate's campaign. The proposed law could essentially put a halt to either issue advocacy by NRLC or express advocacy by NRL PAC.
This "reform" is a deadly threat to the right-to-life movement. Hence the next column will be devoted to analyzing the "reform" bill in straightforward language and exposing the hypocritical tactics with which it is being promoted. For now, please go to the Action Alert on the back cover.