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Sunday, December 4, 2016

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — To reach the Convention Center, you must first walk the gauntlet of dead baby parts.

It’s one of the newer and more gruesome tactics in the fight over reproductive choice, protesters hoisting large color placards depicting aborted fetuses torn in chunks as a group of men preaches an unending sermon on the evils of abortion. As rhetorical tactics go, it is a bludgeon.

The street preachers have other things on their minds, too: Muslims are bad, homosexuals are worse, and if you vote Democrat, you’re going to hell in the fast lane. Also, if you don’t believe as they do, then you don’t know Jesus like they know Jesus.

But always, they return to the medical procedure they deem child murder.

Most people walking to various functions in the Democratic National Convention ignore them. Some don’t. “They better not have that same d–n picture,” growls one man as he approaches the corner. He is shepherding a small child. Another man can’t resist yelling the obvious when the preacher starts extolling the Christian virtue of the Founding Fathers, i.e., that those virtuous Christians trafficked in human beings. I don’t see this myself, but one guy tells me he saw two guys salute the preachers by sharing an ostentatious kiss.

Late in the afternoon, it begins to rain hard. The preachers preach on as people rush by, seeking shelter from the wet. It makes for a bizarre, yet appropriate sideshow to an opening day the Democrats devote largely to women’s issues.

Though speakers address other matters — gay rights, military families, education — the overriding theme of the evening is that President Obama and the Democratic Party stand on the right side in the so-called “War on Women.” At one point, female representatives and candidates even take the podium in a group, their very presence and numbers making a statement. That statement is, Look at us, we’re women.

More substantively, Stacey Lihn, mother of a little girl with a congenital heart defect, says in a short speech that she fights for the president because he fought for her family. His health care reform enables her daughter to get the care she needs even if it costs more than the lifetime cap on expenses their insurance company once imposed.