Guy Benson
I linked to George Will's excellent column describing a famous 1999 Senate exchange in my previous post on today's March for Life, but I think the point it illustrates merits further expansion. 

Embedded below is footage of the classic colloquy on the Senate floor between pro-life former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and radical pro-abortion Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).  Why intentionally use the provocative terms "radical" and "pro-abortion" to describe Boxer?  Because her own words justify both labels. 

The subject of the debate you'll witness is a bill banning a gruesome procedure known as partial-birth abortion.  Boxer opposed the legislation.  Watch as Santorum tries repeatedly to pin down Boxer's definition of when, precisely, a baby is considered "born," and should be afforded legal protections.   At a decisive point in the exchange, Boxer suggests that a child might not deserve conferral of rights until after her parents "bring [their] baby home" from the hospital.  Pressed further, an exasperated Boxer shuts down the debate: "I am not answering these questions." 

The first video isolates the key moment, followed by the full exchange:





On several occasions, Boxer references a previous colloquy between Santorum and an unnamed Democratic Senator.  She seems preoccupied with avoiding being forced to take her stated position to its logical conclusion -- a tactic that she acknowledges Santorum effectively employed several years earlier.  George Will elucidates the moral and logical trap Boxer was clumsily attempting to sidestep:

In a colloquy on Sept. 26, 1996, Santorum asked two senators, Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)—both opponents of actually banning partial-birth abortion, both still serving—if killing a baby that had slipped entirely from the birth canal would still be a “choice” that the mother (which she indisputably would then be) had a constitutionally protected right to make. Neither senator said “no.” Feingold said it would be up to the woman and her doctor. Lautenberg agreed.

President Clinton twice vetoed federal legislation barring partial birth abortion (before President Bush finally signed it into law).  As a state legislator in Illinois, Barack Obama unmasked his own extremism on life issues when he opposed -- on three separate occasions -- a law prohibiting the abject murder of babies who managed to survive botched abortions.  In the 1990s, a whistle-blowing Chicago area nurse raised the alarm that babies were being discarded in linen closets and left to die after inconsiderately escaping abortion-induced death at the hospital where she worked.  Following a horrified outcry from the public, a law was introduced in Springfield to expressly ban the ghoulish practice.  State Senator Obama spoke against the bill, voted against three times, then invented an utterly dishonest excuse for his actions when they became a political liability years later.

Summarizing: President Bill Clinton refused to ban a grotesque process opposed by an overwhelming majority of the public and categorized by physicians as "never medically necessary" and "bad medicine."  Senators Boxer, Feingold, and Lautenberg each declined to publicly state that a fully-birthed baby was, indeed, a human being worthy of equal protection under the law.  Barack Obama actively and habitually voted to block legislative efforts to outlaw a form of outright infanticide because it could possibly be construed as an "anti-abortion statute," then lied about it. 

Proponents of permissive abortion policies often smear pro-lifers as "radical anti-choice extremists" whose fundamentalist views drive them to "impose their beliefs" onto others.  I'd invite any genuinely undecided and open-minded person to thoughtfully consider the evidence outlined above, then reach his or her own conclusions about which side's mainstream advocates represent the true radical extremists in our national discussion on abortion.


UPDATE - Abortion on demand, at any time, for any reason has become firmly ensconced in the Left's political catechism.  How is that stance playing with the American people?  Brand new data from Fox News/Opinion Dynamics closely mirrors Gallup's recent finding that pro-life is the "new normal" in American public opinion:

FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Jan. 18-19, 2011. N=900 registered voters nationwide.

             

"On the issue of abortion, would you say you are more pro-life or more pro-choice?"

 
    Pro-life Pro-choice Both/Mix
(vol.)
Unsure  
    % % % %  
 

1/18-19/11

50 42 5 3




Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography