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CHICAGO — Desperate politicians are apt to do desperate things, and the other day, Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s desperation led her to something truly remarkable:

She spoke the truth of how Democrats view those who oppose abortion.

If you oppose abortion, then you’re equivalent to a racist, Gillibrand said. Other Democrats didn’t denounce her. Her bigotry was met with silence. And silence is consent.

“I think there’s some issues that have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable,” Gillibrand, the presidential candidate from New York, told the Des Moines Register the other day.

“Imagine saying that it’s OK to appoint a judge who’s racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic,” she continued. “Telling — asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America, I don’t think that those are political issues anymore.”

In her world, babies don’t have rights. Even thinking of them as human would get in the way of politics that grant power to those who would end their lives.

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The high priests of culture — in media and entertainment — are in lockstep with her. And the secular dogma speaks loudly within them.

It says that religious faith is in the way of power over life, and therefore such faith must be marginalized, condemned and viewed as sinister, as something deplorable, like racism.

“There is no moral equivalency when you come to racism,” she said, “and I do not believe there is a moral equivalency when it comes to changing laws that deny women reproductive freedom.”

This isn’t mere biology we’re talking about. It’s power politics. The power to commit violence on babies in the womb.

And by babies I don’t mean “a collection of cells” or some other euphemism, like “fetus.”

Gillibrand has the decency to speak in unvarnished terms, so let’s establish what lives we’re talking about here: the lives of the unborn.

A great and profound confusion is in our culture when it comes to babies. Just recently, in Chicago, an infant was abandoned on a garbage can lid and saved by paramedics. And that scene in the hospital emergency room of cops and paramedics cheering the baby as he struggled to survive and begging the boy, loudly, to live.

He lived.

And a story of the mother caught in the crossfire of a street gang shooting, the woman holding her baby out and away from the shooters. The baby survived. The mother didn’t.

And then there was that other horrific account, about the infant cut out from its 19-year old mother, allegedly by two women intent on stealing a child.

The mother was killed. The two women have been charged with her murder. The baby, Yovani Lopez, is still fighting for life.

When we hear such stories in the news, we stop and marvel at life, and we worry about the infants. That’s human of us. But we also hear something else, from state legislatures including Illinois’: cheers and applause from politicians of the left, congratulating one another for the passage of bills allowing women to control their own bodies, with little if any mention about the consequence to the lives inside those women.

Some might object to Gillibrand’s dehumanizing of Americans for the sin of believing that life is sacred. But she’s done everyone a favor. She’s spoken her truth, and loudly.

It certainly wasn’t quiet in Illinois around Gov. J.B. Pritzker, surrounded by an enthusiastic throng of Democratic women congratulating him on signing what may be the most liberal abortion bill in the country.

They cheered and clapped. He’d sign part of his name, hold up his pen and smile, his eyes twinkling, and they offered more applause. He gave out his pens as souvenirs of a great victory.

It was a celebration.

“There is a war against women,” said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the bill. “A war on bodily autonomy, and our opponents are using hateful, untrue and outright misogynist rhetoric, which escalates daily and endangers women everywhere.”

Under the legislation, gone is a provision for spousal consent or waiting periods. And soon, the next target will be to end parental notifications to parents of minor children, all but assuring an increase in abortions.

At least the language of the bill establishes who doesn’t have rights and who doesn’t. It says: “A fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent rights.”

The one without rights is the baby in the womb, the baby with a heartbeat, the baby who is viable at around 20 weeks and even the baby carried through the third trimester to the moment of birth.

In the womb, they have no rights, but they can hear their fathers and mothers talking to them, reading to them, playing music for them as they wait to be born.

From the womb, they can hear politicians applauding and cheering and celebrating a great victory over them. And those who weep for them or try to protect them are condemned roundly as religious zealots and akin to racists.

I don’t know how we reconcile the two, our desire to celebrate life and the celebration of the power to end it in the womb. I don’t know how the future will judge us, but I suspect the future won’t be kind.

Nothing is without cost.

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Kass writes for the Chicago Tribune: @john_kass.

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