Beyond the Lighted Circle

Congress recently gave final approval to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a law that would outlaw the most barbarous form of abortion ever devised. But if President Clinton vetoes this bill, as he threatens to—and if Congress doesn’t override his veto—Americans will lose our right to call ourselves a civilized country. Partial-birth abortion involves partially delivering a late-term fetus, and then puncturing the baby’s skull and suctioning out his brains. It’s so horrible that even our prochoice president is squeamish about openly saying it ought to stay legal. That’s why he’s hiding behind a provision he knows will gut the law: President Clinton says he’ll sign the bill only if Congress adds a so-called "health of the mother" provision. Now, the bill already has a life of the mother provision. But a health exception would render the bill meaningless. Why? Because the term "health of the mother" has been legally defined as "all factors—physical, emotional [and] psychological . . . relevant to the [patient’s] well-being." But as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has pointed out, these factors include such threats to health as: the mother hates being pregnant, she doesn’t want a baby with a cleft lip, or she won’t fit into her prom dress unless she has an abortion. As even prochoice former Sen. Bob Packwood observed, "Is there any abortion that couldn’t fit into this definition?" The answer, of course, is "no"—and President Clinton knows it. In effect, the president is saying that a civilized country can countenance drilling holes in babies’ skulls and vacuuming out their brains. By hiding behind benign-sounding words like health, Bill Clinton is attempting to obscure the reality of our abortion culture—that we now define freedom as the right to take innocent human lives by the tens of millions. Someone ought to tell the president that a willingness to face the truth lies at the core of civilization. Historian Paul Johnson writes that "the essence of civilization is the orderly quest for truth, the rational perception of reality and all its facets. . . . So long as we follow the path of reason we shall not move far from the lighted circle of civilization." But, Johnson warns, civilization’s enemies "lie among those who . . . deny, distort . . . [and] poison the truth." The trick, Johnson says, "is to . . . unmask them before the damage they inflict becomes fatal." Prolife legislators did their best to unmask the truth about partial-birth abortion. Over the objections of their prochoice colleagues, prolife lawmakers forced us to look upon gruesome drawings of babies being killed by this procedure. America looked at those pictures . . . and shuddered. This wasn’t freedom. This wasn’t civilized. This was barbarism. 71 percent of us now say we want partial-birth abortion outlawed. Contact President Clinton and ask him to reconsider his threatened veto. If he won’t, then we must call our legislators and demand that they override the veto. If we can’t outlaw a practice that butchers babies mere inches from birth, then we will prove beyond all doubt that we’ve stepped outside that lighted circle that marks the boundary between civilization ... and savagery. And we will deserve—and receive—God’s judgment.


Chuck Colson


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