Stepping in the Minefield of Abortion

At the risk of stepping into a minefield–oh hell who am I kidding I love stepping into minefields–I would like to set the record straight on the New York legislation regarding late-term abortions.

I was struck by the words of Timothy Cardinal Dolan (the archbishop of New York and member in good standing of the Catholic Church, one of the most disingenuous and corrupt organizations ever conceived by man, even if many of its members are good and kind people) who said the Reproductive Health Act of New York was a “ghoulish, grisly, gruesome,” practice.

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It started the usual social media debate. At first, I thought to let it pass. But, alas, I could not.

Here’s that actual language from the statute.

“According to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” (https://legislation.nysenate.gov/pdf/bills/2019/S240)

The Reproductive Health Act will permit abortions after 24 weeks in cases where a woman’s life or health would be threatened by continuing the pregnancy. It also allows licensed nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide abortion services and decriminalizes abortion.

It is a pre-emptive strike against any Supreme Court reversal of the well-established, yet misunderstood, Roe V. Wade decision. The movement to overturn Roe, almost exclusively funded and driven by religious fundamentalism, poses a grave danger to women’s rights.

Their efforts have not been without success.

Several states passed what is known as “heartbeat” restrictions, limiting abortions once the heartbeat begins. These statutes artfully dodge the fact that most women do not even know they are pregnant at that point.

These states’ highways and byways are oft adorned with myriad Come to Jesus signs and the legislatures routinely try to circumvent the Separation Clause. States where science carries less respect than NASCAR, conspiracy theories, and Bigfoot are the point of the fundamentalist spear.

Scattered throughout these same states, are billboards with a smiling baby and the ominous words, “A baby’s heartbeat starts at 21 Days!” (it is actually 22 days, and the fetus bears little resemblance to a recognizable human form.) It is about the size of a poppy seed. About the size of the period at the end of this sentence. In numbers, the size of a three-week fetus is LENGTH: 0.03 in / 0.08 cm WEIGHT: 0.002 oz / 0.06 g. (Growth Chart)

It would be nice if we put as much care and consideration into those children living in deplorable and desperate conditions as we are wont to do for those not yet born. It would seem our concern ends at birth.

I am always struck by the conservative opposition to abortion based on the “sanctity” of life, while many embrace the death penalty. As they often do, they turn to the ultimate authority (nope, not Google) but the original source of all knowledge, the Bible.

“Thus says the Lord God… “Will you profane Me… killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live…?” -Ezekiel 13:18-19

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. -Proverbs 17:15 (Italics the author. Me, not the original. No one knows who that is.)

Here’s the problem. God may be infallible, the American Justice system is not.

I am struck by the number of men who see themselves as the ultimate arbiters of morality, primarily in others. While many women oppose abortion, men seem particularly fervent in their opposition. One cannot help but wonder if this is as much a sense of loss of control as it is a genuinely sincere position.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, in the year before he authored the pro-abortion Roe v. Wade opinion (which was passed by the Republican majority court), wrote in a 1972 death penalty case of his “excruciating agony of the spirit. I yield to no one in the depth of my distaste, antipathy, and, indeed, abhorrence, for the death penalty… It is antagonistic to any sense of ‘reverence for life.'”

The conflict between the two conservative positions on abortion and the death penalty cannot be starker.

Until we come to terms with the dichotomy of our willingness to risk killing an innocent person who was wrongfully convicted yet deny women the right to make their own choice, I think it best we stay away from legislating morality.

Leave women their right to choose and do not deny them the opportunity to save their lives whenever it is medically necessary. Leave medical decisions to professionals and the individuals forced to deal with them.

If you oppose abortion, don’t have one.