The Abortion President

I suppose none of us should be surprised that President Clinton vetoed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. After all, he said he would, despite overwhelming support for this bill by the American people. But even I didn’t expect the president to turn his veto into a humanitarian gesture. It’s unimaginable to me that a civilized nation could countenance, let alone celebrate in a White House ceremony, the veto of a bill that would end so utterly barbaric a practice—one that allows doctors to crush the skulls of children mere inches from birth. Those who arrange White House ceremonies—and I know, because I used to do it—took great pains to disguise the real issue. They surrounded the president with women who claimed that partial-birth abortions had saved their health and possibly even their lives. But the truth is the bill contained an explicit life-of-the-mother exception. And as far as health concerns go, Dr. Pamela Smith, an obstetrician at Chicago’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, told Congress, “I have never encountered a case in which it would be necessary to deliberately kill the fetus in this manner in order to save the life of the mother.” As he vetoed the bill the president declared: “I cannot support the use of [partial-birth abortion] on an elective basis.” But abortionists themselves admit that 80 percent of these abortions are “purely elective.” I had hoped that the president might be persuaded to sign the bill, both because it’s right and for political reasons. Because the fact is, with his veto pen the president has saved Republicans from what I believe was an almost inevitable crackup over the abortion issue. Senator Dole showed signs of moving to the center on abortion. But prolifers would never sit still for this. A tremendous battle was shaping up for the very soul of the Republican party. If the party moved to the center, as it gave every indication it would do, a third party walkout was likely. But by refusing to ban a procedure 71 percent of Americans find utterly abhorrent, President Clinton has solved the Republicans’ dilemma. Abortion is no longer a divisive issue. Republicans of every stripe can and will join together in an enormously popular moral cause. Now, I’m out of politics, and I take no partisan positions. But I did share some of this with a few evangelical friends who have the president’s ear. All of them agreed with me on both the moral and political ramifications of this bill. And at least one of them was absolutely certain that the president would understand them also—particularly in view of the unprecedented appeal of the Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Bernardin’s direct statement that Catholic voters would remember his decision at the polls. So I’m not only disappointed that President Clinton vetoed this bill; I’m surprised. He must have had powerful pressures to do so. It’s sad to think that there’s any political profit to be made from such a horrendous situation. The price of one child whose life is snuffed out in the birth canal is too high for any partisan gain. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: No nation that condones this horror can continue to call itself civilized. I’m afraid this is a day when we must simply hang our heads in shame. And at the same time ask God for His mercy.


Chuck Colson


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