Judged by the Way It Treats Its Weakest

June 27, 1995|By CAL THOMAS

WASHINGTON — Washington. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton committed a gracious and pro-life act last week when she appeared with Mother Teresa at the dedication of a Washington home for unwed mothers and their babies awaiting adoption.

It was gracious because at last year's National Prayer Breakfast, Mrs. Clinton and the president, with an audience of 3,000, listened to a speech by Mother Teresa about the evils of abortion. The pro-choice Mrs. Clinton could have treated the incident as an affront and stiffed the Nobel Peace Prize winner. Instead, after the breakfast, she asked Mother Teresa what could be done to provide more help to women with unplanned pregnancies.

Mrs. Clinton's press secretary, Lisa Caputo, tells me the first lady assigned two lawyers to the task of cutting red tape so that a home might be established in Washington. Such homes once were common when abortion was illegal but most went out of business after Roe v. Wade in 1973.

''If you know there is a child who is unwanted and unloved, please bring it to me,'' said Mother Teresa, echoing words she spoke at the prayer breakfast last year. Ms. Caputo says Mrs. Clinton's resolve to help establish the home in Washington was deepened when she visited the Sisters of Charity home in New Delhi in March.

At the dedication ceremonies, Mrs. Clinton said, ''The work being done by the Missionaries of Charity reminds us all that each society is judged by the way it treats its weakest members.''

Indeed. That's why abortion falls into a special category of evil and why adoption can be a middle ground on which pro-life and pro-choice people ought to be able to meet.

Tragically, abortion has become so politicized -- a type of right of passage for some women -- that most are denied access to information about adoption as a positive choice. In addition to the censorship about the nature and form of unborn life, the abortion industry refuses to actively promote adoption because it denies them a ''fee'' for their ''services,'' and because abortionists want to promote the idea that ridding oneself of an ''unwanted'' baby is best for the child and the woman.

If only the woman with an unplanned pregnancy could see the unrestrained joy I've seen on the faces of adoptive parents who have waited for years to have a child to complete their lives. To them, biology is secondary to the love they want to share. Ask journalist Connie Chung and her husband, Maury Povich, who tried high tech and several failed adoption attempts over several years before finally adopting a baby boy.

Nearly 2 million would-be parents want to adopt babies; 1.5 million women will abort this year. Why can't we get these ''unwanted'' babies and their reluctant mothers together with these eager-to-adopt couples? If the debate is about ''choice,'' why can't adoption at least get equal billing with abortion?

Is it ignorance or selfishness that leads some women to reject adoption, fearing, as I've heard some say, ''I would always wonder where my baby was and what kind of care it was getting.'' The answer to that is, a lot better care than the child gets at the abortion clinic.

So desperate are American couples to adopt that many go overseas or pay large sums to unscrupulous lawyers who take their money but often fail to deliver on their promises. Many adoptive couples will take handicapped babies or babies of a different race. It is a lie that only the healthy and white babies can find a home.

I asked Mrs. Clinton whether her appearance at Mother Teresa's home in Washington was a one-time deal or whether she might take the lead in promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion. She responded through Ms. Caputo:

''Even if pro-choice and pro-life advocates can never agree philosophically on the question of abortion, we can agree on adoption. I have long been a proponent of adoption and will continue to support it. Both pro-choice and pro-life advocates can and should come together to promote adoption. Too many children desperately need families and homes.''

Some cynics will say Mrs. Clinton is trying to shore up the Roman Catholic vote. But I think she's serious about this. She should be taken at her word and encouraged to raise the adoption alternative as often as she can.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

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