From .......... GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

77 ............ ABORTION

The words had the texture of the three dimensions that came into play when Carter discussed abortion with me: his deep personal belief, his sense (particularly in the first year) that he would violate some sacred trust if he did not adhere to his campaign statements, and his insistence on getting the political plusses out of issues that had such significant political minuses as well. ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson asked the first question on the program the next day;

I recited the administration position opposing federal funds for abortions

After Bettina Gregory asked about teen-age pregnancy, Donaldson pressed for precision on the issue of rape or incest.

Trying to satisfy the President's desires, I responded:

Donaldson noted that the House would allow a dilation and curettage only where an abortion was not involved, and asked if I agreed. I hesitated, then in pursuit of the President's overriding objective to be anti-abortion, responded:

I then recalled my own desire to cool the debate, and added:

When the Continuing Resolution ran out on October 31, House and Senate conferees agreed to language which would permit federal funding for abortion in cases of rape, including statutory rape of minors, or incest, where a prompt report was made to appropriate authorities. They were still split over Senate language which would permit abortions

By the next day, however, the House conferees wanted only forced rape covered. The Senate conferees were furious, and the conference broke up in acrid charges of bad faith.

78 ................ GOVERNING AMERICA

This skirmish marked the first time the House conferees had agreed on abortion, as distinguished from treatment before the fact of pregnancy was established, in any rape situation. Nevertheless, with their conferees unable to agree, the House and Senate voted another Continuing Resolution, giving members a three-week respite from the issue until December 1.

But there was no respite from the demonstrations. Without fail, during the week pickets marched outside HEW. The signs got more vivid; the crude printing crueler. There were the color pictures from Life magazine and the roses and hangers which had become calling cards for the protagonists. The rhetoric was increasingly sprinkled with harsh accusations of "murder" by each side of killing unborn children by Medicaid abortion, or poor mothers by back-alley abortion. Some placards accused me of being a ''murderer of poor women."

Wherever I went, pickets greeted me. When I spoke in Oregon at a Democratic political fundraiser, several hundred demonstrators from both sides paraded outside the Hilton Hotel. The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board was scheduled to decide in ten days whether to replace lost federal abortion funds with state money. The pro-abortionists angrily accused me of trying to inject my own views into the Oregon fight, which I had not heard of until arriving in Portland.

The sincerity of the Oregon demonstrators and others like them took its toll on me: earnest pleas of both sides were moving. None of the lighthearted sidebars that accompanied most demonstrations even some during the Vietnam War were present during pro- and anti-abortion rallies. When I avoided demonstrators by going out a side entrance, as I did that evening in Oregon, I felt like a thief in the night, denying these committed marchers even the chance to know they had been at least heard, if not heeded.

The most vehement demonstration took place in New York City's Greenwich Village on Saturday afternoon, November 12. It was my most draining emotional experience over the abortion issue.

New York University President John Sawhill invited me to receive NYU's University Medal. The award ceremony was to consist of a brief talk and an extended question and answer period. As the day approached I was told that pro-abortionists planned a major demonstration. When I arrived at the NYU Law School in Washington Square, there were several thousand demonstrators.

They were overwhelmingly pro-abortion; the handful of right-to-lifers there said they had heard of the demonstration only the evening before and had no chance to mobilize their supporters. Bella Abzug reviled the

Speaker after speaker attacked me for

protesters chanted to the beat of a big drum.


GOVERNING AMERICA - An Insider's Report

From the White House and the Cabinet

By Joseph A. Califano, Jr.

Published by Simon and Schuster 1981

ISBN 0-671-25428-6