0n May 26 the president signed into law the F.A.C.E. bill (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act) which seeks to stop injury, interference or intimidation of women seeking to have their babies killed by abortion. The law is extremely short sighted. It passes over in complete silence the fact that what injures women is abortion itself, not the pro-life movement.
As we have done for more than two decades, pro-life advocates provide hope and help for women who are on their way to abortion centers not because of "freedom of choice" but precisely because they feel they have no choice. Pro-life people enable them to carry out the only right choice, life.
The intimidation that occurs at abortion centers is not found in the pro-life advocates. It is found in those who have told the woman that unless she has an abortion, her life will be ruined, her boyfriend gone, her job lost and her parents alienated. That is the kind of intimidation occurring daily at abortion centers. That is the kind of intimidation that needs to be stopped.
The F.A.C.E. bill seeks to put an end to "violence," but totally ignores the violence abortion does to both the child and mother. Note well that F.A.C.E. applies to all abortions. If a baby is being ripped apart in the eighth month of pregnancy (and it happens), F.A.C.E. punishes those who try to save the child, not those who destroy the child. F.A.C.E., furthermore, does not punish only "violent" actions (which pro-life activists reject anyway), but also "non-violent physical obstruction."
The official explanatory statement that accompanies F.A.C.E. notes that it was necessary because the "extent and interstate nature" of "obstructive conduct" to stop abortion "place it beyond the ability of any single state or local jurisdiction to control." Do the legislators or the president ever wonder why? Do they ever consider the reasons why they can't seem to stop pro-life efforts even after 21 years of abortion on demand?
Of course it is beyond state or local jurisdictions to control the obstruction of abortion. It is beyond the federal jurisdiction as well. The American people know that abortion is violence. No state or nation can quell the people's thirst for what is true and right. No jurisdiction can make the people settle down and peacefully coexist with child killing! Efforts to end abortion can never be stopped, because the human spirit strives toward life, toward love, toward defense of the defenseless.
As a practical response to F.A.C.E., pro-life advocates need to come out onto the streets more than ever to exercise their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly.
F.A.C.E. claims not to take those rights away but it is, in effect, a message to pro-life advocates to "shut up and go away." Priests and lay leaders need to encourage their people to gather for prayer and peaceful demonstrations against abortion. Prayer vigils, pickets and life chains should multiply in every community.
Priests for Life is committed to help train pro-life people in the value and methods of activism.
The danger for the babies is not so much that Bill Clinton is sitting in the White House, but that we are sitting in our houses! A piece of paper signed in the Supreme Court in 1973 did not absolve us of our responsibility to save babies from death. A piece of paper signed in the White House in 1994 doesn't absolve us either. We are responsible for the babies who die from abortion. F.A.C.E. settles nothing. We will continue to speak out loud and clear. We will end the killing. Love cannot be silenced.
Father Pavone, a priest of the NY Archdiocese, is national director of Priests for Life, P.O. Box 141172, Staten Island, NY 10314 Phone 888-PFL-3448.