Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Abortion Wars

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Abortion Wars

Article excerpt

SOME day, when the abortion wars have ended and history has recorded the battles, it is Federal District Judge Patrick Kelly - not President Bush or Attorney General Dick Thornburgh - who will be remembered as a courageous man who braved death threats to protect women's rights to choose an abortion.

Last week, it seemed like Little Rock, Ark., 1957, all over again. In that year, white racists prevented black children from integrating Central High School. President Eisenhower used his powers to send in federal troops to assure the children's statutory right to enter the school. By that act, he threw the power of the federal government behind the civil rights goal of desegregation.

For weeks, Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group based in Binghamton, N.Y., has been blockading and harassing patients trying to enter three abortion clinics in Wichita, Kan. Whatever his personal view about abortion - and he appropriately does not state them - Judge Kelly, a Roman Catholic, responded to women's legal claims for protection. He issued a temporary restraining order and, when that didn't stop the harassment, he ordered federal marshals to ensure their safety.

In response, the United States Justice Department filed a suit claiming that the federal judge has no jurisdiction over the case. No, Mr. Thornburgh claims, we are not acting on behalf of Operation Rescue. We simply think the state courts can and will protect the rights of our citizens. No, Mr. Bush claims, we are not attempting to restrict abortion. We are simply trying to protect the free speech rights of the activists.

This is pure dissembling and rank hypocrisy. This administration has been waging a concerted war against both civil rights and abortion since the day Ronald Reagan took office. Just recently, the Reagan-packed court issued the now infamous "gag rule" which prevents doctors in federally funded clinics from even discussing abortion with patients.

In the name of states' rights, the Bush administration is using the US Justice Department to protect anti-abortion activists. …

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