I am a big fan of the right to free speech. Sure, speech can get especially ugly but I firmly believe that once start carving out exceptions to the First Amendment, it opens the door wide open to future exceptions and suddenly, we’re in Nazi Germany.
In the past, I backed up my belief with action. Many years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives started debating the proposed “Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act,” a bill I supported that provided abortion doctors and staff federal protection from violence. At one point when the pro-choice lobbyists were meeting with our congressional supporters, I suggested that we needed to put language in the bill that made it absolutely clear that anti-abortion protestors would still have the right to assemble in front of clinics, shout whatever they wanted and/or pray peacefully. I even suggested that we should make clear that they had a right to hold up those horrible, bloody signs. The language was inserted in the bill (much to the consternation of some of my colleagues) and it eventually became law. As far as I know, not one anti-abortion protestor was ever arrested for merely praying or holding up signs. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.
But now I’m starting to wonder a little bit about my defense of free speech.
Everyone knows by now that some guy walked into the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and held the building hostage for several hours. During the siege he killed several people and wounded many others. Ultimately, he surrendered to the police and the next day it was reported that while under arrest he mumbled something like “no more baby parts.” That was the first indication that this rampage may have had something to do with abortion.
The dead baby parts thing is of course reference to the videos that have popped up showing a Planned Parenthood doctor talking about fetal parts to someone who ostensibly was interested in receiving the parts for research. The video caused quite a stir, not just in the anti-abortion media circles but in the mainstream press. A viewing of the video by the average person is no doubt shocking. Personally, I know how abortion doctors – like so many other doctors – can get a little “casual” about how they talk about their work, and even though the film was taken without the doctor’s knowledge, it was shocking nonetheless.
But then GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina decided to double down on the national outrage. During the next presidential debate, referring to this issue, she actually said that she had seen a video that showed “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says ‘we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”
Those of you who read this column know that I worked in that field for many years. You also know I’m brutally honest about abortion. After Fiorina made this statement, I got a number of calls asking me if this kind of stuff actually happened in abortion clinics. I first told them that, yes, the doctors and staff work with fetal parts at some point if the pregnancy is advanced.
I then said that I have not observed every abortion in the country and that there is always some nut ball out there (like Doctor Gosnell) who might have done something off the charts.
But the fact is that Fiorina lied to try to make political points. It’s that simple.
She just made up this story about a video. She could never verify the video exists. And when the media started questioning her claims, she stonewalled it. I mean, let’s be real about this – and let’s be cynical. Let’s say that some crazy doctor let this happen in his clinic. Do you think he would be stupid enough to film this event? Gimme a break.
There is no film. Yet Fiorina kept publicly talking about live fetuses squirming on tables. Then a man in Colorado decides to attack Planned Parenthood clinic because he wanted no more “baby parts.”
Fiorina should be ashamed of herself. And I wonder about that First Amendment. Have we actually gone too far?