The details coming from the state of New York, as well as comments from the Governor and legislators of Virginia and other states about late-term abortion are brutal and disturbing. Not only are laws being advanced that allow abortion until birth, but these laws fail to protect children already born alive.
Some have said that those supporting these policies are “crazy.” But I am suggesting that a certain climate, and a certain set of presumptions, have been created by our current public policy on abortion, and the arguments made to justify it, and that if we are horrified by what happened in New York, we have to examine what that connection might be.
Statistics from the Guttmacher Institute show that some 12,038 abortions per year in the United States occur legally at 21 weeks of pregnancy and beyond. These are babies the size of a large banana.
One of the most memorable conversations I ever had was with an abortionist who performs abortions in the latest stages of pregnancy. I asked him how he justified doing such a thing. He told me he didn't know when the child receives a soul. My response to him was, “So what? If you don’t know when the child receives a soul, how do you know if the newborn has a soul; and if you’re not sure of that, does that give you the right to kill the newborn? And what if you’re not sure if I have a soul?”
Recall also what late term abortionist Dr. James McMahon once said: “After 20 weeks where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it. ... On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is: 'Who owns the child?' It's got to be the mother." (Interview with American Medical News, July 5, 1993).
Notice that we are not hearing an argument here that denies these children to be living human babies, but rather that there is such a thing as a baby who does not deserve protection of the law. It seems to me this dichotomy starts with the dual assertion in Roe vs. Wade that, on the one hand, "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins" [410 U.S. 113, 159], yet on the other, “the word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn” [410 U.S. 113, 158].
So some humans don't have to be considered persons. The difficulty, of course, is drawing a clear line and having a clear rationale for that line. And we have all kinds of evidence of how dangerously flexible that line can be.
That brings us back to Virginia, where Democratic Delegate Kathy Tran recently testified about the bill she introduced allowing third-trimester abortion, and the comments of Democratic Governor Ralph Northam made it clear that the bill would not even protect the lives of babies born after a failed abortion attempt. The fact that abortionists kill such babies across the country led to the testimony of nurse Jill Stanek, who witnessed such activity, and the passage by Congress of the "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act” in 2002.
Now, Congress is seeking to strengthen that law by introducing the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which provides that a baby born alive after a failed abortion would receive appropriate medical treatment.
In 2012, the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled, "After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?" (February 23, 2012). The authors state, “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”
As the authors admit, the assertion is not new. Controversial ethicist Peter Singer said long ago: “[T]he location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference" ("On Letting Handicapped Babies Die"), and that to be consistent, there are "only two possibilities," namely, "oppose abortion, or allow infanticide" (Rethinking Life and Death, p. 210).
When legislators and medical journals defend killing babies both before and after birth, the boundary between the “right to abortion” and outright infanticide is clearly collapsing. It seems to me that this is not necessarily because the people proposing it are “crazy,” but rather because they are following the dangerous logic of an industry which since 1973 has been based on the assertion that the mother’s choice overrides any right to protection that the baby has.
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent pro-life leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the pro-life activities of the Catholic Church. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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