Kathryn Lopez

Dr. Lozier, Donovan, emphasizes, fought against a tide that told her she could not be a mother and pro-life feminist and still win a degree in medicine. We have something of the opposite problem now; we are told ... that women cannot realize their ambitions in the world of work without having abortion available. Charlotte Lozier and her allies rejected that idea -- in an era where women's options for dealing with sexual behavior, pregnancy and career opportunities were far narrower than they are now.

Donovan cautions against the perils of leaving these issues entirely to politics. The goal must be to make progress no matter who is in power. If consciences are dulled, we have to sharpen the instruments we're poking with. But consciences are not political property.

Of course, this necessitates well-formed consciences in the first place, in order to address these issues with moral honesty and scientific truth.

Which brings us right back to the presidential election this year, which Obama has made a battle over conscience rights, forcing a fight over the definition of religious liberty.

Has this become a fundamental American value? Insisting that women are only free when we've all been forced to embrace abortion, sterilization, and contraception as basic health care? A value so fundamental that religious liberty can be cast aside, redefined, and subject to punitive fines?

Pelosi's spiritual visitors can offer some guidance here, if we're up for a longer reflection. And one trailblazing doctor in particular, who was known to demonstrate as much compassion as conviction in her work to protect the lives of children and mothers and the integrity of her medical profession, may have a winning prescription. Free& contraception propaganda obscures what we really face today: choices about matters of basic freedom, cultural conscience, and the very soul of our nation.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.