Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Finally, a victory

This morning I was astounded to hear that the Supreme Court has upheld the 2003 Partial Birth Abortion Ban.

For the first time I can recall, a significant limitation has been placed on what has been a nearly unfettered right to abort by any means the mother and doctor agree upon. In this long war against abortion on demand, I've become very accustomed to the expectation that despite victories everywhere else, SCOTUS was the battlefield where final defeat was assured. The other side has known that even as public opinion turns against them, they could still get their bottom-line result from the Nine, and the business of getting American moms to destroy their children could go on.

Granted, this was a very limited victory. The Act in question only prohibited the grisliest, most inhumane method of late-term abortion. But listen to how the methods are described in the AP story, from which most news outlets will draw their reportage:

The procedure at issue involves partially removing the fetus intact from a woman's uterus, then crushing or cutting its skull to complete the abortion.

Abortion opponents say the law will not reduce the number of abortions performed because an alternate method - dismembering the fetus in the uterus - is available and, indeed, much more common.

The inclusion of these phrases -- crushing or cutting its skull... dismembering the fetus in the uterus -- will bring the reality of abortion into the lives of otherwise complacent Americans, if only for a day. Most people get around the abortion issue by insulating themselves from that reality. They want to think that something clean and modern and surgical happens to an invisible clump of unrecognizable cells, that it's all somehow OK, and besides, who are they to judge...

But crushing skulls and dismembering fetuses are things that most Americans will still recoil from in horror. Thank God.

Now, as for the future. First, I never, ever, want to hear another pro-life voter tell me, "I'm staying home this election because the Republican candidate isn't pro-life enough for me". The only way Justices Alito and Roberts got there, and could finally tip the SCOTUS balance toward sanity, was through Republican victories at the polls in the past several elections. True, many Republican candidates are squishy on the life issues, and the Republican party as a whole is no paragon of truth and virtue. But if you think you're going to get pro-life nominees to replace Ginsberg and other pro-abortion Justices out of a Democrat in the White House, or through a Senate with a Democrat majority, you're just being ... well, very unrealistic.

So always vote. Vote for the pro-life candidate, especially in the primaries, but if your favorite is defeated, be smart. Vote for the person who is most likely to vote pro-life, at least sometimes. Given political realities today, in most cases that'll be the Republican. If you're a Democrat and that sticks in your craw, please ask yourself: what issue is more important than this?

Second, don't just vote every two years and go back to business as usual the rest of the time. Argue. Bring up the subject. Help turn American public opinion against abortion on demand, one person at a time.

Third, in real war, when you've dealt your enemy an unexpected reverse on the battlefield, and they're reeling and off-balance, you don't tell your victorious troops to stand down and party hearty. You throw your reserves in, and you attack. You try to turn their orderly retreat into a panicked, uncontrollable rout. You fight a little more today, when you're weary and inclined to relax and celebrate, because in this brief, hard-won time, you can do in days what will otherwise take months or years to accomplish.

Uncork the champagne if you must. But then saddle up again.