I turned on my television Thursday morning and heard a beating heart.
It was the beautiful, vulnerable sound of an unborn baby's still-developing heart, from an ultrasound. "We don't know her eye color," the voiceover said. "Whether she'll be a redhead or brunette. We haven't seen her toes, fingers or nose. But through the science of genomics we can look forward and begin to care for her future." The ad was for a medical group in northern Virginia. "Join the future of health," the commercial urged.
It was quite the paradox that later that same day, the House of Representatives voted on a bill that would prohibit sex-selection abortion. "Nobody supports sex-selected abortion," critics insisted. But a click on one of Live Action's new undercover videos reminds us that brutality and unjust laws are not foreign to America.
Directed by Lila Rose, one of the latest investigative videos shows a married woman in Planned Parenthood's flagship clinic in Manhattan, explaining that she has a daughter and now wants a son. As Live Action, a young, pro-life activist organization, has documented before, a Planned Parenthood worker doesn't flinch in the facilitation of a sex-selection abortion.
The videos come just after yet another onslaught of "war on women" diatribes from the paper of record for the abortion industry and the Obama reelection campaign, the New York Times. One of the most-read pieces on its website had been a weekend entreaty against Republicans who were supposedly waging this fictitious war. The bishops of the Catholic Church are also in on the conflict, according to columnist Maureen Dowd. The house editorial decried an "angry" April floor speech in which House Speaker John Boehner called accusations that his party was bent on curtailing women's freedoms "entirely created by Democrats."
The man is correct, and he's right to be angry. Boehner wasn't talking about abortion that day, but he was talking about freedom. The freedom to practice your religion outside your house of worship, regardless of what the government may think. These things are interrelated -- it's no surprise that, four decades into the regime of legal abortion, our devotion to inalienable, God-given rights to life and freedom might have weakened.
Boehner was defending religious liberty in the face of its unprecedented erosion, as church institutions and individual Americans were faced with a government health-care mandate forcing them to violate their religious principles. This gender-based abortion issue is similar: It involves a demand that we look away, that we ignore our responsibility to protecting the dignity of some of our fellow citizens. Not so long ago, we were a people that led the way on such things, a beacon for human rights and freedom. But you're not free, under this administration, if you're Notre Dame, or a businessman who happens to be Catholic, whose conscience requires more of a commitment than Mass on Sunday. And even though we talk a good talk about "social justice," we look away as life becomes a casualty of "choice," with taxpayers' money much too close to the awful action.
The White House claimed that the gender-based abortion legislation (which failed, because it was brought up in a procedure that required more than a majority vote) would intrude on medical decisions and criminalize doctors, so President Obama opposed the bill. Similar claims are made whenever anyone tries to restrict or regulate abortions. But when the rush to dismiss such objections stops, what we're faced with is a country that is increasingly comfortable with injustice: Eliminate the inconvenient; fine those who resist demands that violate their conscience.
But Boehner strode onto the House floor and said "no" to the latter. He insisted: "If the president does not reverse ... the attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must." That's not the leader of a party attacking women, but one who seeks to remind us who we used to and still can be. You don't have to agree with him on abortion or much of anything else, frankly, to know something isn't quite right here. That's why a little anger is called for, as principles that have distinguished us are compromised, as what should be actual common ground is chipped away by radical policies and cynical politics.
We may not know her eye color, but that we can protect her right to be born in a country where she'll be free still isn't all that radical a notion.
Email Kathryn Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org.