Abortion: Have pro-choicers gone too far?
Abortion rights advocates can no longer hide behind rhetoric about “choice” or “women’s health,” said John Daniel Davidson in The Federalist. Succumbing to “the inescapable logic of abortion,” Democrats are finally admitting “that there is no difference between abortion and infanticide.” The state of New York recently passed new abortion legislation that legalizes abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. The law states that late-term abortions will be allowed if “there is an absence of fetal viability” or if a single doctor determines it is “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” Such intentionally vague language, of course, could be used to justify abortions up to the moment a child is born. Democrats have pushed similar legislation in other states, including Virginia, where legislators introduced a bill allowing third-trimester abortions if continuing the pregnancy would “impair the mental or physical health of the woman.” Delegate Kathy Tran, the bill’s sponsor, admitted it could conceivably allow a woman to receive an abortion while in labor. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam went even further, suggesting that babies with “severe deformities” could be made “comfortable” and left to die or killed after being born. In other words, “abortion advocates” believe the mother’s wishes trump the child’s right to life even up to, and perhaps after, birth.
“No, Democrats aren’t trying to legalize infanticide,” said Michelle Goldberg in The New York Times. The uproar over the Virginia bill began after a Republican legislator floated a hypothetical question: “Could a woman about to go into labor request an abortion if her doctor certified that she needed one for mental health reasons?” Tran responded poorly, but the question itself was ludicrous. No doctor would ever approve an abortion while a woman is in labor. Only about a dozen physicians in the United States even perform late-term abortions, which represent about 1 percent of all terminations. “Nobody gets a third-term abortion for the hell of it,” said Sarah Jones in New York magazine. Not only are they painful and expensive, they often happen under tragic circumstances, involving severe deformities in wanted pregnancies. The real outrage is that conservatives would demand that a woman endure a full pregnancy and labor, knowing the baby would die shortly after birth.
If Democrats think late-term abortions are a tragedy, said Ashley McGuire in USA Today, why did they just give them “a standing ovation”? Lawmakers cheered raucously at the passage of New York’s new abortion law, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo lighting up Manhattan’s One World Trade Center pink in celebration. But “seeing Democrats vigorously applaud abortion for 7-pound babies makes most Americans queasy.” A recent Gallup poll shows only 13 percent support abortion into the third trimester. The reality of late-term abortions doesn’t match up with pro-choice rhetoric, said Alexandra DeSanctis in The Atlantic. Research from the pro–abortion rights Guttmacher Institute has found that instead of facing medical conditions, most women who seek late abortions are young, poor, or both, and delayed the procedure because they had to find money to pay for the abortion. Today, fetuses have been able to survive outside the womb as early as 21 weeks. Pro-choice radicals might be able to justify killing viable babies. But “most people, even those who favor some abortion access, instinctively recoil from what they see.”
“There are plenty of legitimate reasons that a woman might want or need an abortion later in her pregnancy,” said Christina Cauterucci in Slate.com. Legal restrictions championed by conservatives are one of them. Mandatory waiting periods, ultrasound laws, clinic closures, and insurance restrictions make it more likely that desperate women will be denied first-trimester abortions and forced into the late-term abortions that Republicans claim to abhor. But the anti-choice crowd isn’t interested in making abortion access easier. They’d rather seize on extremely rare cases, and demonize women and doctors confronting agonizing, real-world choices.
New York’s new law should serve as a wake-up call to pro-life conservatives, said Sarah Quinlan in TheBulwark.com. Even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, abortion will remain legal in many states. “It is simply not possible to eliminate abortion by legislating it away.” Rather than using divisive rhetoric that paints women who have abortions as “murderers,” pro-life organizations should focus on ensuring that reliable contraception is widely available, and on giving pregnant women enough emotional and tangible support “so that abortion doesn’t feel like their only or best option.” If we truly want to end abortion, and convince Americans that a baby in the womb is a human being, “the pro-life movement must focus on changing the culture.” ■