The media, which are inordinately fond of both Kennedys and abortion, seemed to lap it up, but don't be surprised if it politically backfires. Most Americans who support legal abortions do so despite a certain bad taste in their mouths: Sucking a baby (or even a "fetus)" from a mother's womb is at best perceived as a necessary evil and not as a great and glorious freedom to fight and die for. On this issue the Democratic Party has allowed itself to become the party of weird extremism, of pro-abortion zealots and fanatics.
In New Jersey, for example, when pro-choice GOP Gov. Christie Whitman signed the most modest of abortion "restrictions" last year -- requiring parental notification or a judge's permission for minors' abortions -- the pro-abortion lobby denounced her as a traitor to her sex. Just this week, Elizabeth Volz, president of the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women, told The New York Times that Whitman had "decided that the Republican Party was more important to her than the young women of New Jersey" -- "young women" now being the politically correct term for teen-age girls who've proved their maturity by getting pregnant out of wedlock before they are old enough to vote for Al Gore.
But not to worry -- what Gov. Whitman taketh away, judges appointed by Gov. Whitman giveth back. The New Jersey Supreme Court this week overturned notification requirements on the grounds that they violate the state's equal protection laws. New Jersey's constitution, a 4-to-2 majority rules, "does not permit the state to impose disparate and unjustifiable burdens on different classes of young women when fundamental constitutional rights hang in the balance."
Translation: If a doctor wants to take 200 bucks to stick a vacuum aspirator up your 14-year-old daughter's cervix, he can do it without saying "boo" to you. After all, your 14-year-old is mature enough to make life-and-death decisions on her own, right? She doesn't need any parental supervision or guidance, right? She can not only decide to get an abortion, but she can choose the right doctor and make sure she gets the right kind of follow-up care, right? What makes the court think your 14-year-old is such a paragon of maturity? Why, the fact that she went out and got knocked up. That makes her a young woman with the right to keep her parents in the dark. Right?
Of course, if it turns out she doesn't go to a good doctor but one of these for-profit abortion mills run by hacks one step away from license revocation, or if even a good doctor has a bad day and perforates her uterus, or leaves a bit of your fetal grandchild in her womb, believe me, the courts of New Jersey will hold you responsible for her medical bills. Because then, she's just a kid and your responsibility, right? And if the wrong doctor robs her of her fertility, you'll be the one left holding her hand as she faces the fact that she may have destroyed the only child she'll ever have, right?
But hey, the New Jersey Supreme Court says that asking doctors to inform you, the parent, before they perform surgery on your child violates ... whose rights again? That's the kind of abortion politics that is increasingly hard for American voters to swallow.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.