Will GOP Deal with Abortion Issue Directly, Or Use As Bargaining Chip?

With the brutality of abortion on full display during the recent trial of Kermit Gosnell, pro-life members of Congress are poised to draw the nation into a conversation about why abortion clinics like Gosnell’s have been allowed to continue in operation. Though abortion supporters have persistently claimed that the passage of Roe v Wade in 1973 would finally make the practice “safe” and “legal,” it is being revealed that Gosnell, and others like him, have been engaging in gruesome and unsafe practices for decades.

The way in which pro-life congressional leaders seize the moment, however, to investigate how states regulate abortion clinics, and to design pertinent legislation, will likely be critical to their success. Therefore, if you are pro-life, you’re hoping this moment doesn’t get screwed up.

For example, in the Washington Post on Thursday, Lori Montgomery wrote that, after a “two-hour listening session” in the basement of the Capitol on Wednesday, she learned that “rank-and-file lawmakers” were strategizing for the next debt limit “showdown.”

Writing from a particular perspective, Montgomery wrote that the “good news” is that most Republican legislators “agree that they probably should not block a debt-limit increase” this time around. On the other hand, Montgomery observes that the “bad news for President Obama” is that the GOP will require something in exchange for voting to raise the debt ceiling.

“But what should they ask for?” Montgomery wonders. Among the suggestions she says she heard was tying restriction of late-term abortion to a vote to hike the debt limit.

Though the “listening session” produced no decisions, the notion of linking restriction of late-term abortion to raising the debt ceiling could be a surefire way to mix apples with oranges and, consequently, be left with nothing but fruit cocktail.

At a time when we are seeing increasing evidence that gruesome “back-alley” abortions are as prevalent today as they were in 1970, why not use the direct approach? Indeed, there is much data to support it.

Kermit Gosnell, now a convicted murderer, was permitted to keep his Philadelphia clinic open for decades, without state oversight or intervention. As a result, the abortionist was allowed to continue his practice of killing babies born alive during abortions.

The president of Planned Parenthood Southeast Pennsylvania admitted that she knew what was happening at Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” through reports from women who went there to receive services, but her organization, which claims to be a group that advocates for women, did not report the concerns to state health officials.

Planned Parenthood abortion clinics themselves have been found to be unsanitary, with claims made of conditions and practices similar to those at Gosnell’s clinic, perhaps because the abortion giant’s clinics were treated with kid gloves by state oversight agencies eager to stay on the “correct” side of political opinion.

The practices of other late-term abortionists, like Douglas Karpen, LeRoy Carhart, Curtis Boyd, Cesare Santangelo, Robert Alexander, and others, have been exposed, many by Live Action, Operation Rescue, and Life Dynamics, pro-life advocacy organizations.

In fact, direct methods of addressing the abortion issue have been illustrated by at least two Republicans in Congress: Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

Franks announced on Friday that he will change the language of an existing bill to protect all babies who can feel pain from being aborted. Based on research that indicates that babies developing in utero can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation, Franks said the proposed legislation would establish a national abortion limit of 20 weeks after fertilization.

Since Franks’s original bill, the “D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act,” would apply only in the District of Columbia, he is amending it “to broaden its coverage so that its provisions will apply nationwide.” The new bill is called, the “Unborn Child Protection Act.”

“Knowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be,” Franks said. “This is not who we are."

Franks added that while the Gosnell case has shocked millions of Americans, the fact remains that “had Kermit Gosnell dismembered these babies before they had traveled down the birth canal only moments earlier, he would have- in many places nationwide- been performing an entirely legal procedure.”

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice--which Franks chairs--will hold a hearing on his proposed legislation next Thursday.

Sen. Mike Lee introduced a resolution that calls upon the Senate to review public policies that led to the illegal abortion practices of Gosnell and others like him. Lee hopes to investigate abortion practices and the interstate referral of women and girls to abortion facilities that engage in late-term abortions. In addition, his resolution also recognized the 20-week pain threshold for babies in utero. Senate Democrats, needless to say, have objected to the resolution.

Franks and Lee, as well as other pro-life leaders in Congress, have spoken out about the need to address protection for the unborn, for those babies born alive during abortions, and for the women themselves. With the nation focused, pro-life members of Congress should not hesitate to draw the attention of Americans to conversation and legislation regarding abortion directly. 

Any notion of using the gruesome and brutal spectacle, to which we have recently been exposed, as a bargaining chip in other national debates will likely cheapen and obscure the issue. The result would be failure--perhaps forever--for the pro-life community and, most unfortunately, for the most vulnerable among us.


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