Gagging Prolifers

I'm going to say something that could land me in prison again some day: Abortion is the murder of an innocent human being. If the abortion lobby has its way, calling abortion "murder" would be redefined as illegal "fighting words." Speaking out against abortion would then be a criminal offense. If that sounds extreme, just consider what happened following the murder earlier this year of two Boston abortion clinic employees. The abortion lobby and its media allies didn't blame accused gunman John Salvi. No, they blamed peaceful prolife leaders. "Words Kill" screamed a full-page Planned Parenthood ad in the New York Times. The ad blamed religious broadcaster Pat Robertson and Cardinal Roger Mahoney for causing "a rampage of anti-choice terrorism"—even though both Robertson and Mahoney have denounced the violence. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman wrote that Salvi "skidded down a road paved with the language and logic" of the mainstream prolife movement. Kathryn Kolbert of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Law and Policy went even further. Abortion protesters, she said, "actually [incite] violence" by equating abortion with murder. And she ominously added: "We have to re-evaluate how much speech is free." And how do abortion advocates plan to `re-evaluate' speech? The answer is, by linking mainstream prolife rhetoric with clinic violence. Then, prolife speech could be redefined as what the law calls "fighting words"—that is, words that intentionally incite violence. For example, suppose you gave a speech in which you called abortion "murder" and labeled abortionists as "baby-killers." If someone in the audience later murdered an abortionist, you could be prosecuted—even if you advocated only peaceful protest. The notion that political speech could actually be suppressed may sound outrageous. But who, ten years ago, would have predicted that prolife protest would be declared "hate speech" against women? Or that we'd see so-called "buffer zones" which forbid free speech on public property around clinics—if the speech is prolife. Or that we'd see the Supreme Court treating prolifers like mobsters by allowing them to be hauled into court on "racketeering" charges? Or that we'd get a Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law that punishes prolife civil disobedience far more harshly than the law punishes people who protest anything but abortion? These are the reasons we have to be vigilant in our defense of our fundamental liberties. Otherwise, abortion activists could succeed in getting peaceful prolife speech outlawed as "fighting words"—and then silence all prolifers because of the violent acts of a deranged few. As we continue our fight against abortion, we should be the first to condemn the murders that occur outside abortion clinic walls—to help prolifers understand that a consistent prolife ethic means defending life both inside and outside the womb. But while we must avoid using inflammatory language, we have to stick to the truth. We have to keep telling the world that abortion does kill children made in God's image—even if we end up going to jail for it.


Chuck Colson


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