I recently read that on the day President Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act into law, the sun let off an explosion unlike any recorded in history. Some prophetic-types even sent out pictures of the flaming corona saying it looked like a baby. Interpretations abounded.
I see something in those flames, too. I see dead people. More precisely, I see dead babies – and I feel responsible.
Back in 1993, I was the editor-in-chief for Life Advocate magazine. One of our reporters had secreted a copy of a medical paper by Martin Haskell which he presented at the annual meeting of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) in September of 1992. In it was described, in very clinical terms, Haskell’s newly-developed Dilation and Extraction or D&X abortion procedure – now popularly called “partial-birth abortion.”
It was a block-buster article. We were the only news organ that we were aware of with the information. We prepared the article, but during our staff meeting Andrew Burnett, our publisher, said he was concerned. He wondered if, by publishing the article about the gruesome-appearing type of abortion, anti-abortion work might be damaged because “The Movement” might refocus its efforts away from the millions of invisible babies being killed in the U.S. every year. He was worried that The Movement might be toward this small number of egregious and visible abortions. He wondered if people would forget about the cruelty of the ordinary suction aspiration abortions or even other late-term procedures which, in fact, are far more cruel than the D&X. He wondered if the pockets of “pro-life” people would be picked clean for a war against a single procedure, while the killers marched on slogging through the blood of the innocents.
Well, we eventually chose to run the story in the February 1993 issue of the Life Advocate. The dreaded results were not long in coming. National Right to Life (NRTL) contacted us and wanted to use our story and our four-panel artist’s rendering of the procedure – the one you have all, no doubt, seen.
Then it was off to the races. NRTL and its state affiliates, along with many other “pro-life” organizations, began hyping the story and telling their mailing lists that they (for a price, of course) could help stop this gruesome procedure – “partial-birth abortion,” they dubbed it.
Ah, yes! It was the fundraisers’ dream – for both sides of the war. The “pro-life” forces crafted utterly useless laws banning the procedure and pled for money to promote and defend in court these purposeless statutes. “We can save lives and curb this cruel practice,” they bleated. However, none of the laws would stop a single abortion because there were already several other procedures – some more truly cruel and torturous than D&X – available to be used by the child killers.
In addition, the shrill shriek of the pro-aborts was heard throughout the land. “This is just the beginning of losing our abortion rights,” they cried disingenuously while raking in the cash.
Both sides knew precisely what they were doing. “Pro-life” leaders knew that the ban wouldn’t stop any abortions. The opposition leaders knew that banning a single procedure would not end “abortion rights.” The money, though, was good for both.
Nor were the politicians adverse wallowing the pig sty. Even normally pro-abort office-holders could vote for the ban and gain a few “pro-life” votes – and possibly campaign support from pragmatic right-to-life organizations. The standard for “pro-life” organizations giving to candidates was not whether they opposed abortion itself, but whether they would vote for the D&X ban.
The whole scene went downhill fast. I originally tried to console myself that raising the “partial-birth abortion” issue would cause the public to have more discussion about their half-hearted support for child killing. I hoped that the pro-abort defense of D&X would shock the public mind and reveal the truly crass, bloody, inhuman “face of pro-choice America.” Instead, it eventually just made people more callused toward the barbaric killing. “Well, any kind of surgery looks gruesome,” they took to saying.
Of course, after ten years and millions spent by The Movement, Bush finally signed the ban. Whoopie-do! Now Bush gets to pretend that he is a “pro-life” hero. Naturally, the fight has to go on in the courts for years, so “Keep those cards and letters – and money – coming, folks, and don’t let the pro-aborts snatch our victory away!” (I predict the ban will lose in court.) The pro-aborts will raise millions for the same.
Ten years and everybody makes out like bandits. For another ten years everyone will continue to gain – everybody but the babies.
Nowadays I tend to imagine the millions, possibly tens of millions, of dollars raised by “our side” for this fruitless exercise. I imagine if that money had been used to hire professional sidewalk counselors to talk to abortion-bound mothers outside the clinics. I imagine mobile ultrasound vans outside clinics. I imagine some of that money going to the attorneys to defend the rights of the counselors and picketers at the clinics. I imagine if that money had been used to provide medical services for those who changed their minds. I imagine, over ten years, thousands of babies alive today, tens of thousands of babies alive today, who are not with us now. I weep for them.
Jesus told us to feed the hungry. He told us to feed the hungry that were right in front of our face – not start a movement that would eventually feed hungry people in the future. When we invest our time, energy, and money to save babies, it should be directed as much as possible at babies who are dying today, not those who may (or may not) be aborted in 2050. Yet, the D&X ban (aside from being ineffective) is precisely 180 degrees out from that principle. Over the last ten years, The Movement has spent untold millions to pass a law which pretends to save babies, while the human presence at the abortuaries has dropped to near zero in most of the nation.
My 1993 decision to run that article helped to dilute the activist, anti-abortion movement probably far more than the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) law and all the lawsuits. The attention of the anti-abortion activist was successfully diverted from the clinic doors where killing was going on every day to funding a “winnable” piece of fluff legislation called the Partial-Birth Abortion Act.
I had a part in that, and I am sorry. Sure, I could assuage my conscience saying that someone else would have eventually published it and started this whole mess, but that is simply dishonest. I was the one who decided to go to print.
So, if you wonder why I still go out to the clinics, and the streets, and the churches with my big, graphic signs trying to convince women to stop killing their babies, it is because I see something.
I see dead babies.
Paul deParrie was the Editor-in-Chief of “Life Advocate” magazine for ten years. Life Advocate was sued out of business by the abortion industry. The magazine was a tool which kept pro-lifers informed and encouraged by the thoughts and actions of others, and was a great loss when it closed. Paul also wrote several books, including “The Rescuers” which detailed the lives of individuals involved in the Rescue Movement. You can visit Paul’s website at The Portland Porcupine.
Paul was the type of man you could talk with freely without having to feel like you have to walk on eggshells. He was a blessing to the body of Christ. He was a blessing to me personally. He will be greatly missed. — Pastor Matt Trewhella
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