Alan Sears: Whenever Planned Parenthood and The Center for Reproductive Freedom team up, something dies. Sometimes, it's a freedom. More often, it's a life. If the two organizations' respective lawsuits - one state, one federal - succeed in dismantling a new Arizona law designed to protect pregnant women and those who serve them, you'll see mortal wounds nationwide to both lives and liberty.
Whenever Planned Parenthood and The Center for Reproductive Freedom team up, something dies. Sometimes, it's a freedom. More often, it's a life.
If the two organizations' respective lawsuits - one state, one federal - succeed in dismantling a new Arizona law designed to protect pregnant women and those who serve them, you'll see mortal wounds nationwide to both lives and liberty.
On the other hand, the new law, if enacted, could have a far-reaching impact on legislation in other states, improving the quality of medical care for women considering abortion, while expanding the freedom of health care professionals to honor their conscience and religious convictions.
Ostensibly, Planned Parenthood - itself the nation's largest purveyor of (and profit-maker from) abortion - objects to the new law because it imposes "an undue burden" on women seeking abortions. Specifically, the law requires:
That women visit a doctor 24 hours prior to having the abortion to hear all the medical implications of the "procedure," to fully understand the decision they are making.
That parents provide notarized consent for their minor children to have an abortion, or alternatively, that a judge review the request.
That surgical abortions be performed only by licensed doctors.
That health care professionals be allowed to follow their consciences and not be forced to participate in abortions or in the prescription and preparation of abortion-inducing drugs.
The required doctor visit forces women to make two appointments, Planned Parenthood says, conveniently ignoring the fact that virtually no other medical procedure permits the patient to make an appointment, consult with the doctor, hear a diagnosis, and submit to the procedure - all in the course of a single visit.
Requiring notarized consent violates the privacy of underage girls, the organization claims, as though the right of parents to make informed choices about their underage child is somehow irrelevant. Written consent was already required by Arizona law; the notarization requirement was simply added in order to prevent a fraud that's become increasingly more common.
But, Planned Parenthood sputters, if only doctors can perform abortions - and medical professionals are free to honor their conscience by excusing themselves from participating in abortions - well, women's access to them will be drastically limited.
And that's the real rub, of course.
Limiting the number of people who can legally cut up a child in the womb will seriously cut into Planned Parenthood's multimillion-dollar bottom line. At three of the organization's five Arizona clinics, abortions are currently performed by nurse practitioners - which means enforcement of the new law could easily translate into 20 to 40 percent less cash in Planned Parenthood's already bulging coffers.
By the same token, requiring a parent's notarized permission for a minor's abortion curtails not a young woman's right to privacy, as Planned Parenthood claims, but rather the organization's ability to manipulate impressionable teens into paying for a procedure that will not only end a human life but wreak a devastating emotional impact on the girl herself.
Planned Parenthood and its allies will not give up their easy profits without a fight. At stake are issues that resonate far beyond even the regard for human life that is rightfully the heart of any abortion discussion.
Does a teen's "right to privacy" trump a parent's responsibility for their child's health and well-being? Does the pressure on a woman to abort the baby within her preclude a reasonable regard for her own medical well-being? And does a woman's authority over "her own body" outweigh another person's authority over his own soul?
If a woman who wants an abortion takes her case to a doctor who demurs on the grounds of religious conviction, she may have to "shop around" a bit to find a physician willing to remove the child from her womb. If one pharmacist declines to fill a prescription for the so-called "morning after" abortion pill, another is only minutes away.
But if a medical professional is compelled by law to perform what she regards as a grave sin, it will cost her much more than a quick search on the Internet, or a few more minutes in the car. It will cost her much more even than her personal freedom.
It will cost her the deepest convictions of her soul. And, like the life of an innocent, unborn child, that's just too high a price to pay for convenience.
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor who held various posts in the departments of Justice and Interior during the Reagan administration, is president, CEO, and general counsel of the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defense Fund.