Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Rare: Another Entry in the Clinton Dictionary
During President Clinton’s political career it was obvious he was using a different dictionary than the rest of America. You might recall two of the most memorable entries in the Clinton Dictionary:
sex-ual rela-tions, n. 1. as in “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky…”
is, v. 1. as in “it depends on what the meaning of the word is, is….”
Recent events lead me to believe that Bill isn’t the only one studying the pages of the Clinton Dictionary. I think it has become a family heirloom.
Sen. Hillary Clinton has been widely quoted in the past few months stating that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” Most political observers believe that Hillary has shrewdly modified her pro-abortion record, reaching out to red voters as she prepares for a run at the presidency in 2008. Well, there is no doubt she is shrewd and is attempting to reach out to red voters. But red voters should be wary of accepting the extended hand. They are sure to find that sleight-of-hand is what Hillary really offers them.
Why am I so cynical? Well, let’s count just a few of the many reasons we all ought to be cynical about the likelihood that Sen. Clinton means rare in the sense that the word is defined in the dictionaries we rely on.
First, Hillary has been outspoken in her support of abortion throughout her entire adult life. One quote among many will serve as a representative example of her true feelings:
“I am and always have been pro-choice, and that is not a right any of us should take for granted. There are a number of forces at work in our society that would try to turn back the clock and undermine a woman’s right to chose, and [we] must remain vigilant.” (New York Times, Jan 22, 2000)
Next, there is her voting record. In five years in the Senate, Sen. Clinton has voted for every pro-abortion bill and against every pro-life bill that crossed her desk. Her Senate report card is 100 percent pro-abortion. Valedictorian. Top of the class. She even voted to preserve the practice of partial-birth abortion.
And finally, the methods she proposes — sex education, counseling and contraception — won’t even come close to making abortion rare. Hillary and other proponents of this approach argue that it will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and therefore the need for abortion. Theoretically it makes sense, but unfortunately theory doesn’t stand a chance against raging hormones. Don’t get me wrong. I think we should do everything we can in the way of education and contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy. But I don’t believe such efforts are going to significantly decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies in America.
We’ve been teaching sex education in our schools, even handing out free condoms in many of them, for decades. I’m sure these important efforts have prevented many unwanted pregnancies. However, approximately 1.3 million abortions are still performed each and every year in this country. Can sex education courses be improved enough to make a significant dent in the number of unwanted pregnancies? Can condoms and other forms of birth control be any more accessible than they are today? I think we have likely gained nearly all of the benefits these programs have to offer. And even if we made some improvement, how much more impact would it have? It would take nearly a 25 percent improvement to drop the number of abortions to 1 million per year. I don’t think a 25 percent improvement is likely, and even if achieved, 1 million abortions is not a number most of us would classify as rare.
I believe that as long as the safety net of abortion is available, attention in sex education class and rigorous adherence to birth control will be considered optional. Sure, it is inconvenient to have an abortion, but apparently, when hormones are raging, the inconvenience of abortion is unfortunately forgotten in the pleasure of the moment. The only way to truly make abortion rare is to make it unavailable for purposes of convenience. If abortion was limited to cases of preserving the mother’s life, rape, and incest, it truly would be rare. And the risk of an unwanted pregnancy with no safety net to break the fall would certainly focus greater attention on sex education and the need for contraception.
But that isn’t what Hillary has in mind. Next time you hear her say that abortion should be safe, legal and rare, remember she’s getting her definitions from the Clinton Dictionary. What she really has in mind is that abortion should be available anytime, anyplace, for any reason. That might be rare in her book, but not mine.