June 10, 2010
My younger sisters name is Andrea. She gave me a wonderful present this year for my birthday: two amazing framed photos of the Brooklyn Bridge. They now grace the entry hall in our home. They may date from the 1940s.
Theres another Andrea who figures in our familys story: Andrea Bocelli. Our late mother absolutely loved the amazing talent of this Italian tenor who is blind. We gave her all of his CDs. She was as moved by his story as we all were.
Andrea Bocelli is in the news this week. Hes expressing gratitude that his mother did not abort him.
Pro-abortion people are outraged. They are usually outraged. They are castigating the great Italian tenor, saying he is lying. Their proof: Why abortion wasnt even legal in Italy when Andrea Bocelli was born in 1958. Well, now isnt that persuasive?
Arent the pro-abortion people the very ones who said there were hundreds of thousands of back alley abortions before they heroically made them all legal? Before, that is, the abortionists moved their signs from the back alleys to their Main Street entrances.
When I researched the campaign to liberalize abortion in Washington state, the one that voters grudgingly approved in 1970, I was surprised to learn that A. Frans Koome, a confessed illegal abortionist, had provided fully twenty percent of the funding for the legalization campaign.
I should not have been surprised. The main difference that legalization provided was that those illegal operators--the ones cleverly denounced by liberals as back alley butchers could now come out of the shadows and do their killing legally.
The last time I saw my mother, before cancer claimed her life in 2005, she told me how she and her young sisters-in-law used to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge--at midnight--back in the 1940s. I was stunned. Wasnt that dangerous? Not in the least, my mother said, not in those waning days of World War II.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan had confirmed my mothers witness in his famous essay called Defining Deviancy Down. Moynihan recorded how there were only eight homicides in all of New York City in 1944, when my mother and my aunts walked across the Bridge.
By 1994, there were 1,200 homicides annually in the city. Moynihan wrote that the mind reels at such figures, we just cant cope, so we define deviancy down, and respond to those lethal numbers as we might to daily precipitation reports, to Dow Jones industrial averages.
My mother added a clincher to her story of walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight: Oh yes, and I was carrying you then. Yes, it may have been a world at war, but in Brooklyn, there was amazing peace on our streets. Attending a family wedding on Long Island recently, I persuaded my wife to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge with me. This time, I told her, I want to see the view. What a view it is.
I wish I could talk to my mother about Andrea Bocellis wonderful witness for life. She was, until her dying day, pro-choice. She and I agreed to disagree about that. I loved her all the same. But no man can hear Andrea Bocellis amazing expressions of gratitude to his own mother for not aborting him without thinking of what a gift his own life is. Thank you, Nan, for choosing life for Andrea and me.
I have to think that the daily toll of homicides in our great cities--the toll Daniel Patrick Moynihan so eloquently described--has not been helped by the legalization of homicide in abortion. How can we teach the young to respect life while promoting these violent assaults on young life at its most vulnerable?
Moynihan, too, is gone. Ill never have the chance to thank him for his votes against the horrors of partial-birth abortion. Nor to point out, gently, I hope, that his and his partys condoning the slaughter of innocents is a major reason why so many of our cities streets are killing fields.
Now, I can listen to Andrea Bocellis Time to say Goodbye and try not to tear up. I remember all the wonderful things about my mother and the love she gave to my sister and me. I can be grateful for the courage with which she faced her own death. And I also thank God for the fact that she didnt leave an absentee ballot for her other favorite star--Barack Obama!