Truth matters

Editor’s note. This editorial appears on page 2 of the March digital issue of National Right to Life News, the “pro-life newspaper of record.” You can read the entire 39-page issue at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsMarch2015.pdf. Please be sure to pass along stories to your pro-life family and friends.

DismembermentabortionistreTo be honest I’m not sure I ever thought I would ever pen an editorial quite like this one. It’s about truth and the habitual habit of pro-abortionists to mangle even the most self-evident fact. That, of course, is not the unusual part.

What happened the day I wrote this column was that I read two examples of candor and honesty from journalists who are not with the good guys but who were fair and objective in what they said. That’s the part I didn’t expect to write about. But they deserve praise.

To take the more typical news first. As you read on page one, the West Virginia legislature overturned Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Tomblin had twice vetoed essentially the same bill in consecutive sessions and began his veto message with “I believe there is no greater gift of love than the gift of life.”

But just to be clear that “gift of life” does not extend to unborn babies capable of experiencing unimaginable pain as they are torn to pieces. Naw, there are “constitutional grounds” Tomblin could obliquely refer to that were as flimsy as his veto message was insincere.

But then there was the opinion piece written for the Los Angeles Times by one of its reporters, Karin Klein, under the headline, “Let’s call physician-assisted suicide what it is.”

Klein is not talking about the homogenized labels advocates have concocted. She is talking about the insistence that assisted suicide no longer be called (or reported in death records) as suicides. Down the memory hole.

They shouldn’t be labeled suicides (as Klein explained their argument) because ”They don’t want to die; their diseases have forced that on them.” (The idea is lifted from what we heard from Brittany Maynard, whose assisted suicide death has reenergized the pro-assisted suicide movement.)

Legislation recently introduced in California—Senate Bill 128—“not only refrains from calling this suicide but would not allow death certificates to reflect how the death occurred,” Klein writes. It reads, “The cause of death listed on an individual’s death certificate who uses aid-in-dying medication shall be the underlying terminal illness. In other words, it wouldn’t mention the legal drugs that actually caused the death.”

She adds what oughtn’t to be unnecessary but is: “The public should have a problem with that.”

Klein describes herself as a “strong believer” in assisted suicide, but also “an advocate of facts—not distorting the wording on public documents so that they will forever tell a false story of the cause of death. And we should not shy away from accurate words. Suicide means the deliberate taking of one’s own life before it is claimed by other forces.”

And then there is a column that I would never had expected to read in a thousand years. The headline to the op-ed that ran Thursday is “Where Credit Is Due” and it appeared in the New York Times.

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It was written by none other than Linda Greenhouse, who for years covered the Supreme Court for the Times. She is pro-abortion to the core which tilted her coverage in an unmistakable manner. I have hammered her bias relentlessly.

But to my amazement, the “credit” she was extending was to the late Jack Willke, the President of National Right to Life for a decade, and before (and after) that a transformative educational figure in our Movement. To her eternal credit, Greenhouse began her obit by noting that “this hugely effective strategist of the anti-abortion movement” deserved “a better send-off” than the standard obituary which focused on one aspect of his career which had the intended impact of diminishing, if not trivializing, his historic contributions.

You can, and should, read her op-ed at www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/opinion/linda-greenhouse-where-credit-is-due.html. Let me just say just two things.

First, Greenhouse co-authored with Prof. Reva B. Siegel a book titled Before Roe v. Wade: Voices That Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling. She would have known of Jack’s contributions after Roe before she researched the book. Afterward she would know how pivotal were the contributions of the First Couple of the Pro-Life Movement. They were there at the creation.

Second, she talked a lot in her op-ed and in the book about the Willkes’ small book, Handbook on Abortion. It was required reading for anyone who joined the Movement in the 1970s or 1980s, just as the “Willke Slides” were required viewing. Handbook took on the basic arguments for “abortion reform” and in crystal-clear language debunked them. Having read Handbook, you felt confident, knowledgeable, and equipped.

Greenhouse ends her op-ed with a very, very telling anecdote. She and Siegel asked a lot of sources for permission to reprint. For very different reasons, both sides were reluctant. One pro-life organization refused to deal with Greenhouse and her co-author at all. The pro-abortion groups charged them (in one case) a substantial amount.

They approached the Willkes and not only did they give them permission to excerpt from Handbook, it was the longest excerpt in the book (12 pages!). On top of that, the Willkes wrote a gracious follow-up letter after reading the book. They lavishly praised parts of the book and gave them a “solid B.” (Always the educators.)

I write all that to end with this. Truth about assisted suicide does matter. Fairness (as opposed to caricature) matters. Recognizing the Willkes’ unparalleled contributions to the abortion debate matters.

Greenhouse gave “credit” where it was due—to Jack Willke. And, as unexpected as it for me to write this, credit is due to Greenhouse for her obituary of one of the preeminent leaders of the greatest movements for social justice of our time.