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Questioning the Party Line

by | Jun 3, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. This ran as Terri Schindler Schiavo’s family and many, many pro-lifers were working—alas, unsuccessfully–to save Terri. I include this particular editorial in our year-long “Roe at 40” series because it addresses Terri’s plight and many other issues of critical importance to pro-lifers. If you are not a subscriber to National Right to Life News, call us at 202-626-8828.

“Who best to decide? In the murky mess that this case has become, we are left with one unwavering truth: Over the last seven years of fighting, Terri Schiavo’s parents have proved themselves nothing if not fiercely loyal, utterly committed parents. They might be misguided. They might be in denial. But no one can argue their devotion. They have not given up. They have not stopped caring. They have not stopped loving. Who are we, as a society, to tell them they must?”  —  Columnist John Grogan, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 25

“[T]hough hardline feminism has little appeal for today’s women, its ideology lives on in law and policy, like rays from a dead star.”  —  Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon, from “The Cost of Choice”

Bobby Schindler, Jr.

Bobby Schindler, Jr.

“On Sunday March 6 … the National Geographic Channel (NGC) presents In the Womb, a two-hour special that uses the latest advances in technology to take viewers on the incredible adventure of a developing new fetus.”

Pre-publicity for a program that features 4-Dimensional ultrasound imaging that “allows us to take an in-depth look into a mysterious world inside the womb, and chart unprecedented details throughout the stages of pregnancy”

By the time you open the pages of the March edition of National Right to Life News, the family of Terri Schindler-Schiavo may already be in crisis mode. Not that they’ve had a moment’s peace these last seven years. The Schindlers’ tenacious defense of Terri in the face of a uniformly hostile judiciary and a son-in-law determined to cut off Terri’s food and water is the stuff of legends.

No sooner had I finished this first paragraph than a famous line from A Christmas Carol crossed my mind: “If these shadows remain unchanged in the future, Tiny Tim will die.” I can only hope and pray that eyes will be opened, hearts softened, and consciences touched. Please keep up to date on Terri by going to our web page: www.nrlc.org.

This edition is filled with stories from A to Z, including many on human stem cell research and cloning; potential nominees to the judiciary; encouraging words from an unexpected source (a Bishop in the United Methodist Church); a reminder how content-free and logic-lacking was the Roe v. Wade decision; amazing discoveries about the interior lives of people with severe brain injuries; alternatives to abortion; and NRLC’s annual convention and Proudly Pro-Life Awards Dinner – – for starters. It is my hope that after reading the paper, you’ll pass it along to friends and purchase gift subscriptions.

But there is so much more to discuss. I will try to use this space to briefly touch on just three of them.

#1. Speaking of Roe v. Wade, I continue to be amazed how many who support its ultimate destination – – the “right” to abortion – – are embarrassed by the circuitous, back roads route it took to get there. Edward Lazarus is a former clerk to Justice Harry Blackmun (whom he loved “like a grandfather”), is “utterly committed to the right to choose,” but balks at automatically making disagreement with the decision grounds for refusing to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court.

A friend forwarded this quote, from an article Lazarus wrote in 2002: “What, exactly, is the problem with Roe? The problem, I believe, is that it has little connection to the constitutional right it purportedly interpreted. A constitutional right to privacy broad enough to include abortion has no meaningful foundation in constitutional text, history, or precedent – – at least, it does not if those sources are fairly described and reasonably faithfully followed.” Indeed, “As a matter of constitutional interpretation and judicial method, Roe borders on the indefensible.”

This willingness to question the party line may be a matter of intellectual honesty (and coherence) on the part of some who seemed hardwired to support the “right” to abortion, but for most people, who owe allegiance to neither side, their already lukewarm support for abortion simply grows cooler by the day.

#2. When I first started my involvement, it would have been unimaginable to see 3-Dimensional color ultrasounds of frolicking unborn babies on television. The technology didn’t exist, for one thing. The major media would never show anything, however abortion-neutral, that suggested there was a thriving young passenger on board, for another.

Now it’s on at prime time! Try as they might, the pro-abortionists can no more hold back the tide of technology that humanizes the unborn than King Canute could command the waves to retreat. In such an environment, it’s hard to pretend that ripping this child to pieces is a moral misdemeanor.

#3. Finally, the dominant metaphors that gave the anti-life forces cover are starting to unravel. Once upon a time pro-abortionists enjoyed such supremacy it didn’t matter that they were willing prisoners of what columnist Mark Steyn calls in another context “hermetically sealed parochialism.”

Now, “who decides?” and “autonomy” and the like almost creak with age. Linguistically (to borrow from Steyn again), they’ve functioned like modular furniture. They could be attached to any cause, such as assisted suicide, and snapped into place.

Such sodden clichés continue to be used, and it would be incorrect to say they are without impact. As noted above, Prof. Mary Ann Glendon said of hardline feminist ideology, it “lives on in law and policy, like rays from a dead star.”

But they no longer function as conversation-stoppers. More and more people want to know what such language actually means.

Much more can and will be said, in future issues of National Right to Life News and in our daily news feature, “NRL News Today.”

If you are not a subscriber, call us at 202-626-8828 or go to www.nrlc.org/news/subscribe.html. If you are not receiving “NRL News Today, you can sign up to have it automatically sent to your inbox Monday through Saturday.

Each and every life is infinitely precious to us, so it doesn’t matter how well the trend lines in general may be going for us if even a single vulnerable human being in specific is lost.

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