ALAN KEYES: Talks Abortion with Fifth-Graders
GOP presidential hopeful Alan Keyes last week took his antiabortion message to the New Hampshire Statehouse and a fifth-grade class. The Boston Globe reports that while Keyes did not utter the word "abortion" while speaking to the fifth-graders, "his message was clear." He began by asking the class, "If I were to lose my mind right now and pick one of you up and bash your head against the floor and kill you, would that be right?" To which the class answered, "No." Keyes continued, "It's wrong to kill children, isn't it? At what age is it right to kill children?" He then asked one boy, "How old are you son?" When the boy told Keyes that he was 11 years old, Keyes asked him, "Think it was OK to kill you when you were 6?" The boy responded by shaking his head no. Keyes continued, "Think it was OK to kill you when you were six months? You sure? Because we live in a country right now where according to some of our courts and some of our politicians, it is OK. Our rights come from God. We human beings don't have the right to take away that right from any human being, including the human beings who haven't quite got here yet." He added, "Because we have denied freedom to the children in the womb who haven't yet gotten to this world, freedom will be denied to you and to your brothers and to your sisters and to your children" (Shea, Boston Globe, 1/28). Maintaining that "abortion by denying freedom to the unborn, will make it impossible to sustain a free society," Keyes told the class, "I honestly believe that if we keep walking down the road we are walking down now as people, when you grow to my age you will not live in a free country" (Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 1/27).
Some adults at the school questioned "whether children should be hearing that message." Marcia Hogan, a parent volunteer, said, "I think it would upset some parents in the town." Lorrie Thornton, a fifth-grade teacher, added, "I'm not quite sure that was appropriate for this age level. I think the administration would have breathed a little easier if he hadn't brought it up" (Boston Globe, 1/28). One parent who was in the room with her 11-year-old said she was unbothered by the statements, adding that Keyes was "trying to bring the conversation down to a fifth-grade level" (AP/Washington Post, 1/29). Even after speaking to the class, Keyes continued to talk about abortion with reporters while still in the school. At that point, one school official asked him to leave, saying, "I don't think we need to have this here now." She added, "I don't think a press conference on abortion needs to happen in the hall of the school. I think we've been gracious" (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 1/27). In response to a reporter's questions about the appropriateness of the comments, Keyes said, "As a matter of fact, we should talk about abortion, because abortion happens to be an issue that is vitally important to our freedom. We should talk about it with them from the earliest possible age" (Boston Globe, 1/28). "We teach sex education in the first grade," he added, "At what age is it appropriate to teach our children not to kill?" (Von Drehle/Milbank, Washington Post, 1/30).