05 November 2007

A Worthy Recipient

In this age of meaningless awards, it is gratifying to see someone receive praise for showing true courage. In today's Wall Street Journal, Mary Anastasia O'Grady writes about Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush today, but could not attend because he is in a Cuban prison:

While practicing medicine in Cuban hospitals for more than a decade, Dr. Biscet became increasingly concerned about the government's abortion practices. In 1998, at a Havana hospital, he took the risk of engaging in a clandestine study on the administration of a drug called rivanol to abort advanced pregnancies. The drug was being widely used, particularly on girls as young as 12, who, having been forced to leave their parents and work in rural areas as part of their schooling, found themselves "in trouble."
The study concluded that rivanol resulted in viable fetuses being born alive. What often happened next horrified Dr. Biscet, who later wrote that, "the umbilical cord was cut and they were allowed to bleed to death or they were wrapped in paper and asphyxiated."
As a result of his vocal opposition to these abortion practices he lost his job, his family lost their home and Castro's goons were sent to beat him up. But the bullying didn't work. By now he was actively engaged in resistance against the regime and, as he has written, his conscience would not allow him to back down. Those familiar with Dr. Biscet's work say that he was instrumental in building -- at the grassroots level -- on the impact of Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January 1998. The regime took notice. Dr. Biscet became one of the few dissidents that Castro has ever attacked by name in a speech to the nation. As a proponent of Cuban democracy told me, "It proves that Biscet really got under Castro's skin."

Few Americans will have heard of Dr. Biscet before today. Not many more will remember him tomorrow, yet we have Gore, Britney Spears, and other meaningless personalisites shoved down our throats.

We have to remember that freedom IS worth fighting for. Dr. Biscet is a great example of that.

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