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Barnes: Partial-birth abortion issue gives new impetus to pro-life cause

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Comparing recent anti-abortion victories to the resurgence of the anti-slavery movement in 1860, a political magazine editor recently predicted the nation will eventually ban abortion.
Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Standard and a nationally known political commentator, said pro-abortion forces recognize this trend and are “terrified of it.”
Speaking May 8 to Right to Life of Louisville, Ky., Barnes said a primary reason for his optimism is young people shunning the ways of their baby-boomer parents.
“They don’t want to emulate the permissiveness, hedonism, divorce, secularism, liberalism and materialism,” he said. “There’s a hardening of pro-life opinion among young people.”
Also a panelist on TV’s “The McLaughlin Group,” the conservative editor said afterwards at least two of Kentucky’s new abortion laws will withstand court challenges.
Celebrated in a 20-minute video shown to the 700 people at the banquet, the laws include:
— new abortion clinic regulations,
— an informed consent bill that includes a 24-hour waiting period,
— a ban on partial-birth abortion.
Barnes noted similar legislation has withstood constitutional challenges, except for partial-birth abortion laws, which courts in several states have overturned.
While some argue the latter issue should take a back seat to outlawing abortion, Barnes said he recognizes its value.
“Look at what it has forced pro-abortionists to defend,” he said. “A wiggling, squirming child three-fourths of the way outside of the womb. And they say it’s fine to kill that child by sucking its brains out.”
Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum recently told him the practice is turning public opinion against abortion because people can see the baby.
“There’s nothing theoretical about it, nothing abstract about it,” Barnes said. “With partial-birth abortion you can see the baby. I think this issue has changed the debate in Washington and around the country.”
When he first spoke to a Right to Life convention in 1993 in Milwaukee, Barnes likened the situation to darkness before the dawn.
Drawing historical parallels, he listed a string of defeats anti-slavery forces suffered in the 1850s. But then, he said, people rebelled, elected Abraham Lincoln president and soon banished slavery.
Likewise, when Bill Clinton took office in 1993 he immediately signed four executive orders easing access to abortion, he said.
Other factors made pro-abortionists confident they were about to achieve ultimate victory, he added.
“The pro-abortion people didn’t get the victory they expected because there is a pro-life majority in America and that majority rebelled,” Barnes said. “Suddenly the pro-life movement switched from defense to offense.”
Voters sent dozens of right to life supporters to Congress in 1994, he said. That led to a veto-proof majority in the House of Representatives against partial-birth abortion.
And, though anti-abortion observers thought the ’96 election cost them a dozen votes, he said, last year supporters of the ban increased by nine.
Though the Senate twice failed to override President Clinton’s veto, Barnes termed it likely that three additional legislators needed to override will be elected in November.
In addition, he expressed optimism because of the continuing emergence of voices against abortion.
The original plaintiffs in two court tests establishing abortion rights have switched sides, he said, along with a small but growing number of editors and columnists.
“I’m optimistic every time I hear about medical schools refusing to teach abortion to young doctors,” he said.
“I’m optimistic when I hear about the growing number of doctors who don’t want to have anything to do with abortion. I’m optimistic when I think about moving to the next step after a ban on partial-birth abortion.”
The latter could be an attempt to outlaw all second- and third-trimester abortions, or ban abortion after the fetus is 20 weeks old — the age of viability outside the womb, he said.
In remarks preceding Barnes’ speech, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. lamented the 20th century’s “culture of death.”
Just as America was founded in a battle over liberty, Mohler said it will be defined in the end by the battle over life.
Recalling Romanian citizens in Bucharest lighting candles before Nicolae Ceaucescu’s overthrow, he called on Right to Life members to do the same.
“I believe there is reason for hope,” he said. “The forces of death, more than ever before in the last 25 years, are on the defense. While there is time, let us determine to pass the light and shed more light.”

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  • Ken Walker