By Jonathan Rogers
NRLC Field Coordinator
We were inclined to let it pass, but on second thought, here’s a couple of observations about pro-abortion New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg’s slur against pro-lifers last week.
In case you hadn’t heard, Lautenberg was part of a rally outside the Planned Parenthood office on North Van Brunt Street, along with a New Jersey Assemblywoman, to urge Congress not to cut federal funding for PPFA.
About 100 PPFA supporters in pink shirts waved pink signs and stood in front of a pink-colored bus. (The pink was obviously to focus on the non-abortion-related services PPFA provides.) According to a New Jersey newspaper account, there were critics “accusing the speakers of lying and demanding they ‘stop killing babies.’”
In a complete non-sequitor Lautenberg, who spoke after the Assemblywoman, said that the Tea Party movement has “declared war on women.” He said the Tea Party Republicans “don’t deserve the rights [or freedoms] in the Constitution.”
And then, as others have described it, Lautenberg said, as if in an afterthought, “but we’ll give it to them anyway.”
I myself am surprised and a little bewildered on a number of accounts. There was nothing to indicate the counter-demonstrators were members of the Tea Party movement. They were pro-lifers standing outside one of the headquarters of the largest abortion provider in the United States.
I’m also surprised that producing about “100” pro-abortion supporters at a rally featuring a United States Senator was the best they could do. It seems underwhelming, especially in New Jersey.
But there’s also the matter of Pro-lifers (or members the Tea Party or anyone else) not deserving Constitutional freedoms—or, at best, deserving of them only if people like Sen. Lautenberg decide to give it to them.
With all due respect to Sen.Lautenberg, the Constitution was written specifically to protect people from the thinking of individuals such as him. Setting aside the merits of the pro-life vs. pro-abortion positions, to say that one’s ideological opponents don’t deserve basic freedom of speech is quite literally to consider them outside the bounds of civil society—and that you have the right to decide who is in and who is out.
The senator’s afterthought– “but we’ll give it to them anyway”—ripples with condescension, and reveals another basic hole in Mr. Lautenberg’s understanding of the Constitution: You can’t “give” anyone the rights and freedoms of our founding documents.
Sen. Lautenberg can no more deny or grant pro-lifers equal footing in the public forum than he could declare himself a king over other men, though he might wish he possessed some sort of imperial power to squelch disagreeable views.
But then it ought not to be surprising that the New Jersey Senator feels such contempt for both the Constitution and for Pro-Lifers, since he was speaking on behalf of an organization that is comfortably denying constitutional protections to all Americans.
Proponents of slavery wanted slaves counted as three fifths of a person before the law. The Pro-Abortion Movement does that one better: it argues that when it comes to the law and unborn children, they count as nothing.
Pro-lifers don’t hold the Constitution as a stumbling block to be side-stepped, but a promise to be fulfilled, and one that applies to all Americans, born and unborn, including Senator Lautenberg.
The Senator and his hundred supporters are quite free to air whatever views they wish, including grievances against us. Do so loudly and often, if they choose. The larger the speakers platform they use means the larger our platform is to rebut them.
So our thanks to Senator Lautenberg for strengthening the pro-life position.