Why Democrats Can’t Talk Honestly About Abortion
The truth is unconscionable in a modern world.
By David Harsanyi
FEBRUARY 5, 2019
Democrats will protect American children from the evils of trans fats and gay conversion therapy, but not from doctors who will kill them through negligent homicide in the first few hours of their lives. This is the ugly reality of the contemporary abortion debate. It’s why most advocates will do about anything to avoid describing the unpleasant realities and consequences of their increasingly radical position.
On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked Republican Ben Sasse’s effort for unanimous consent on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. It must be stressed that this bill wasn’t technically about abortion, but about protecting babies who survived the procedure. It seems the already risible argument of “my body, my choice” has morphed into “not my body anymore, still my choice.”
Sasse’s bill, which exempted mothers from prosecution, would have required “any health care practitioner present” to help ensure “that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital” and to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”
Now, it would have been one thing if Sen. Patty Murray objected on grounds of states’ rights or the broad nature of the bill, but she did not. “We have laws against infanticide in this country,” she claimed. “This is a gross misinterpretation of the actual language of the bill that is being asked to be considered and therefore, I object.”
She is wrong. There are laws that allow for infanticide. We have one of those laws in New York. The failed Virginia bill that precipitated this debate would also have allowed the killing of unborn babies until birth for virtually any reason—and, if those babies happen to survive an attempt on their lives, after birth, as well.
When asked if her bill would allow abortions for woman dilating in the “40th week,” Virginia Del. Kathy Tran said, “My bill would allow that, yes.” Her mistake was being honest. When Gov. Ralph Northam tried to make Tran’s infanticide bill sound humane, explaining that the “infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and mother,” his mistake was also honesty.
Northam, as his defenders pointed out, was merely talking about euthanasia—although they would never call it by its appropriate name—as if terminating the lives of infants with fetal abnormalities like Down syndrome for the convenience of the parents is more morally palatable. The Virginia bill, however, also allowed for the abortion, or post-birth termination, of viable, once-healthy infants for nearly any reason.
The reality of the bill hasn’t stopped people from continuing to act as if every abortion is a life or death decision for the mother. This, it seems, is rarely the case. The pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute found that both medical literature and late-term abortion providers show the majority of late-term procedures are not performed for “maternal health complications or lethal fetal anomalies discovered late in pregnancy.” The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute also found that a majority of women who seek these abortions “do not do so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment,” either.
In any event, every bill limiting post-20 week abortions makes exceptions for the life of the mother. Sasse’s bill does not stop parents and doctors from making tough decision about critically ill infants. This is a myth.
When late-term abortion defenders are honest, as feminist writer Jessica Valenti was recently, they sound like old-school eugenicists. Reacting to National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis’s excellent article in The Atlantic, Valenti first tries to distract from the law itself by complaining that “the author writes about ‘third trimester abortions’ while linking to research about abortion post-20 weeks (which is about when you get an ultrasound for fetal abnormalities.)”
Yes, it’s true that most 20-week bans are opposed by Democrats because the abortions in question are used to weed out imperfect children. But the reason it’s easy to conflate the two is that viability keeps expanding and going well beyond the third trimester. Let’s start using the phrase “viable babies,” then.
One of those kids, Lyla Stensrud, was bornafter 21 weeks and four days, weighing just 14.4 ounces. It is almost certain that technology will advance to a place where there will be many more children like Lyla. Does anyone really argue that a single week makes that fetus a mere clump of cells? According to the Guttmacher Institute, around 15,000 Lylas are aborted every year.
Valenti, though, goes on to tweet, “the GOP is bankrupting parents with kids in the NICU – stays that cost literally millions of dollars.” Not only can you abort a completely healthy baby for reasons of emotional stress, but you can also choose not to care for viable infants because it puts unfair fiscal pressure on parents and hospitals. Do you know how much an autistic child costs? Why not them, as well?
If this is really an argument for post-birth termination, can someone explain the moral distinction between going to a NICU unit and injecting poison into a premature baby that is either causing the mother emotional fiscal stress or injecting poison into another baby–same exact age, same exact reasons–that’s in the womb? If you’re honest, like Valenti, there is none.
Most people circumvent the reality of late-term abortion (and post-abortion killings) for convenience by claiming it never happens. This is a highly dubious contention. But if it’s true, why pass state laws protecting doctors who might engage in the practice? Seems like a good way to incentivize it. And if there is no market for infanticide, why do people like Kermit Gosnell exist? What is the difference between what Gosnell did and what they want to legalize—other than cleaner facilities?
For many years, Democrats have been allowed to get away without any serious questions regarding their opposition to post-20-week abortion restrictions. Despite interference from fact checkers and other Democratic Party surrogates, for example, their 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supported, from conception to crowning, not a single restriction on the procedure. This fact becomes obvious in the rare times they’re honest about what abortion means.
David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the new book, First Freedom: A Ride Through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today. Follow him on Twitter.