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Jewish World Review March 11, 2005/ 30 Adar I 5765

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Nothing much to celebrate | As holidays go, March 10th doesn't have the familiar ring of, say, July 4th or December 25th or even March 17th. But a holiday it is — of sorts.

If you failed to stop for champagne and a greeting card, you may be forgiven, as it's hard to get behind something called "National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers." It doesn't quite slip off the tongue like "Merry Christmas!" but there it is.

In fact, I've tried to come up with an appropriate greeting — Termination Tidings? Happy Vivisection Day? — and, well, you see the problem. It's also hard to be pithy about death, in this case the 1993 murder of Dr. David Gunn, an abortion provider who was killed by a crazy person, who, without irony, described himself as "pro-life."

The idea to declare a commemorative day to celebrate Gunn's work in the gut-wrenching trenches of aborted life is credited to Refuse and Resist (R&R), a grassroots group that protests whatever needs protesting.

R&R claims credit, for instance, for protesting the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical black journalist who was who was convicted in 1982 of murdering a police officer. In 2001, a federal judge upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction but overturned the death sentence.

This year, Abortion Appreciation Day fell the day after another important date on the abortion calendar — the trial of Jeff White. Little known among Americans who go about their days without giving much thought to abortion, White is the fellow who last year was dragged away from a Washington, D.C., abortion clinic for displaying the remains of an aborted fetus in a jar.

Or the remains of a pre-born baby, depending on your point of view.

As protests go, you have to hand it to White. He gets high marks for riveting visual effects and for making the point he was after. Which is that we avert our gaze from what abortion does in favor of focusing on marches for "choice" and women's reproductive health.

White staged his demonstration during last April's "March for Women's Lives." If convicted, he faces three months in prison on what surely is among America's most unusual charges: unlawful display of human remains without a permit. Who knew? Next time, buddy, get your permit.

There are enough passions on both sides of the abortion issue, it seems, to neutralize interest among those who occupy the radical middle — the majority of Americans who support legal abortion, albeit with restrictions, but who really would prefer not to talk about it. Or better, who wish the subject would go away. Sort of like White's little jar.

Who wants to see the "products of conception from your termination," anyway? That's how hospital administrators in Glasgow, Scotland, referred to another fetus-in-a-jar — one containing the issue of Nicola McManus, who had induced a miscarriage with the RU-486 "abortion pill" a few years ago.

Hospital staff had labeled the jar with McManus' name and, in a lapse of judgment, left it in her room for pickup and delivery to the pathology lab. McManus was chatting on the phone with her husband when she realized what was in the jar sitting in front of her.

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Things did not go well after that, prompting hospital officials to fashion an apology as cold and sterile as an operating room. Just the way we like it, or else we might all end up in tears the way McManus did.

So here we are, marking another year since Roe v. Wade, another anniversary of Gunn's death, another count of aborted fetuses, another month of protests.

On one side are White's supporters, who think the jar is the way to go. On the other are those rallying to celebrate Gunn, who no sane person would argue deserved to die. Abortion may be a lot of things we can debate, but it's legal and murder isn't.

But Gunn's work isn't much to celebrate, either. Though it may be lucrative, suctioning human life from a woman's womb can't bring much satisfaction at the end of the day. If you were just passing through and, without prior knowledge or history, noticed these two armies — one celebrating abortion and the other hoisting jars of baby parts — you might think the world had gone bloody mad.

You'd be right.

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