BY DR MICHAEL HURD
Ohio lawmakers are considering a controversial bill that would ban abortions sought because the baby has Down syndrome, placing the swing state at the center of a new battle for anti-abortion advocates.
“What does that say of us as a society if we make decisions about who lives or who dies dependent on if they are going to be an inconvenience, or they are [costing] too much money for health care costs?” Ohio Right to Life President Michael Gonidakis told FoxNews.com. “Someday we are going to find a genetic marker for autism. Are we going to have a 90 percent abortion rate for people with autism? I hope not.” [foxnews.com 8/24/15]
Here’s my question: What does it say about us as a society if some people use the force of government to impose the life of raising a child with Down Syndrome on unwilling victims, i.e. parents?
I realize that some will say, “Life begins at conception. Therefore, you must respect all life, Down Syndrome, or not.”
I could not disagree more that life begins at conception. Life begins when life begins — at the moment of birth. Prior to birth, or at least prior to viability, a fetus is — by its very nature — an extension of the body of the pregnant woman. It’s a potential life, or a life in the making, but not a life in the actual, objective sense.
Anti-abortion laws are based on two assumptions.
One, the entirely faith-based belief that God inserts the divinity of life into a fetus at conception; this is entirely faith-based, and has no relevance to a secular Constitution based on separation of church and state.
Two, the biological claim that a non-viable fetus is just as much a biological life as a newborn infant. But there’s an essential difference between the two. The non-viable fetus cannot function yet — biologically — as a life, apart from or outside of the mother’s body. The infant obviously can. You cannot ignore such a crucial distinction; you cannot evade the difference between a potential life and an actual, self-sustaining (biologically speaking) life.
I am impervious to the arguments by threat, emotion, or intimidation. I am impervious to arguments with pictures or videos of out-of-context body parts or blood stains, because pictures and videos are not, in and of themselves, stand-alone substitutes for rational arguments. I am not writing this article right now to persuade anyone who feels abortion is murder to change their minds, because I know that nothing will do that.
It’s perfectly fine for people to believe whatever they wish to believe. For example, one is free to believe in life after death. But we do not pass laws involving the activities of people in that “life” after death. That would be absurd. Others believe in reincarnation. But we don’t pass laws referring to actions that you allegedly took against me, or I against you, when we each inhabited different bodies in different “lives.” That would be insanity. (Given how things are going, we might be closer to proposals for such laws than you think.)
There’s a reason why we celebrate our birthdays on the date of our births, and not the date of our conceptions. It’s because we all plainly know that our lives began on the date of our births — not nine months earlier.
People are free to believe what they wish about souls (i.e., one’s consciousness) detached from the body, not only before birth or after death, but at any other time. But in a free society, we don’t codify those exclusively faith-based beliefs into law. Not unless it’s a religious dictatorship, or some other kind of dictatorship.
If you discover only after birth that your child has Down Syndrome, or any other illness, you have no right to kill that child. However, if technology gets us to the point where you can know about this tragic development prior to birth, early on in the pregnancy no less, then no moral government would ever force its citizens to bring such pregnancies to term.
I consider this a new low.
We’re rapidly becoming a society of “brother’s keepers.” More and more, the government decides that everyone must be cared for, protected and nurtured at others’ expense. One price of such a society is that the government that makes the commitment to caring for everyone will eventually control the activities, behaviors and choices of everyone.
The legislation is unique [foxnews.com reports], though not unprecedented. North Dakota passed a similar measure in 2013 that banned abortions motivated by the sex of the baby; a diagnosis for a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome; or the potential for a genetic abnormality.
Notice that governments (state level, for the moment) now feel empowered to decide the preferences of their child’s gender. So far, it’s only in the negative. “You have no right to terminate your pregnancy based on gender.” How long before government gets to decide how many children you have, when you have them, or in what order of gender you must have them? In principle, there’s nothing to stop this, once you start down the path North Dakota has already gone, and Ohio seems poised to go down now.
Whether religious or otherwise, “left wing” or “right wing,” authoritarian and totalitarian governments always rely on the same thing: the creed of self-sacrifice. Even more than most anti-abortion laws, these North Dakota and Ohio forms of legislation advocate the imposition of sacrifice as an end in itself — primarily because it’s a sacrifice, the laws imply, it should be imposed on people for that reason. It’s involuntary servitude, applied to parenthood.
Forcing people to be parents of a mentally or physically disabled child whether they wish to be, or not, is one of the most ruthless, sadistic and mind-numbing forms of totalitarianism possible. Stop saying, “It can’t happen in America.” It’s already starting.
Writes Dan Solomon in Why Men Need Abortion Just As Much As Women Do | xoJane:
We treat abortion like it’s something men have no part in because it’s possible for men to avoid the consequences of an unintended pregnancy. For men, sometimes it’s as simple as changing your phone number. But when we talk about the responsibilities that men have in the event that they get a woman pregnant, we rarely talk about how we have to ensure that abortion remains accessible. When we don’t do that, it’s just a different form of walking away from our responsibilities.
One lone woman stood for 10 consecutive hours against the entire Senate in the Lone Star state to defend a woman’s right to an abortion.
What Texas Sen. Wendy Davis did is an example of what those of us who cherish individual rights – and our numbers are few – may have to do in our lifetimes. Though exactly under which rule the bill to ban abortion failed amid the confusion in the Texas state Senate is unclear at this point, what is unequivocal is that Sen. Davis, who was not allowed to lean or use the toilet, embodies the American spirit of “Don’t Tread on Me.” While too many who claim to advocate for reason, capitalism and individual rights instead fetishize and fawn over conservatives such as Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin and others who would violate individual rights, Wendy Davis, whatever her flaws, stood for reason in thought and action. That she’s a hypocrite as a Democrat for protecting the sanctity of what she calls “personal relationships with [one’s] doctor” while supporting a party that just enacted a national dictatorship in health care is another issue. For now, she is the reason that a woman’s right to abortion is legal in Texas and that must be recognized, especially in a great, American state with a noble history of standing one’s ground for the proper principles of a free republic.
What happened in Texas is more indicative of Big Government than this week’s mixed Supreme Court rulings on irrational laws intended to influence hiring and admissions based on race – a despicable idea in any context – and irrational laws that specify certain types of persons, namely gays, for separate treatment under the law. Sen. Davis may have won the battle for individual rights, though barely to the extent that she did and her defense is mixed, but we are losing the war for reason in the West. As the left and right converge to create an American dictatorship, America is becoming a fascist state. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who like an ayatollah prays and deprives himself of food as a means of government, may get his way on banning abortion in Texas yet and Wendy Davis may have merely bought a short length of time. The anti-abortion movement in Texas demonstrates that the threat of theocracy – whether it’s government by faith in the state or government by faith in God, tradition or religion – is rising.
Wendy Davis rose with great physical courage in action to speak out against theocracy and it’s thanks to her that Texas dodged a ban on a woman’s right to abortion. It’s not easy – it is becoming much more difficult – to rise up and speak out against the tyranny of the state. Standing her ground for individual rights – which are under attack everywhere in the U.S. – is a heroic example for all rational Americans. — Scott Holleran
Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision, allows states to ban abortions after a fetus is viable outside the womb. But in the past three years, states have gone significantly further. North Dakota’s ban, at six weeks post-conception, is the earliest in the nation. The Washington Post as an interactive map chartingthese restrictions, using data from the Guttmacher Institute to map all the laws that ban later-term abortion in the United States.
Link: The landscape of abortion bans, in one must-see map
Sometimes the truth is a strange as fiction. As an example take a proposed legislation in Arizona (SB 1376) that is eerily similar to the scenario presented in the fiction novel, Living Proof.
Writes Jodi Jacobson on In New Push for “Personhood,” Arizona Anti-Choicers Push Bill to Track Every Embryo:
An Arizona group seeking to establish legal personhood for fertilized eggs and embryos is proposing a new way for the state to keep tabs on the personal reproductive decisions of its citizens: Embryo tracking.
A bill quietly wending its way through the Arizona legislature would create a database to track every embryo in the state created through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), defined in the bill as: “Any procedure, treatment or medical or scientific intervention provided for the purpose of formation of a human embryo with the intent to produce a live birth.” It has nine Republican co-sponsors.
CAP also opposes the practice of assisted reproductive technology for couples or individuals struggling with infertility, and so their answer is to pry into the lives of those seeking such assistance and making all details of their medical treatment public. Similar to portions of SB 1361, another bill from the 2012 legislative session, this newer bill seeks to capture and make publicly available information on the disposition of every embryo created in the process of in-vitro fertilization, and the results of every treatment involving ART. The information required is largely redundant to the statistics and information submitted to the CDC, most of which is publicly available.
According to a source who works in communications in Arizona but spoke to us without attribution, “each legislative session since 2010 we have seen bills seeking to eliminate or reduce the ability of Arizonans confronted with infertility to utilize ART to build their families. These attempts have always included severe penalties for the physicians who treat these patients in our state.” CAP, according to the source, also has been:
“…trying and failing for full personhood that would ban abortion by, basically, making doctors and women guilty of murder. They have failed to date, thankfully, which is why CAP has altered their approach. Instead of coming after personhood head on, they are now taking smaller steps that seem somewhat innocuous. In addition to the redundant and unnecessary reporting, much of which is already required by the CDC, this is merely the beginning of a constant chipping away at the choices available for Arizona families.
If passed, SB 1376 would threaten the practices and licenses of reproductive endocrinologists in Arizona. Failure to file reports or filing a false report on embryo creation, transfer, destruction, or movement from one facility to another would be a criminal act and result in an automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct. Facilities that violate the requirements are subject to discipline by the state Department of Health Services and also to civil penalties.
This bill requires all “ART” facilities to report annually (either electronically or in written form) the following information to the State Department of Health Services, which in turn would make it publicly available:
- Total number of live births achieved
- Rate of live births per transfer
- Percentage of live births per completed cycle of egg retrieval
- Percentage of transferred embryos that implant
Information regarding the safekeeping of embryos including:
- Number of embryos formed
- Number of embryos transferred
- Number of embryos preserved
- Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and destroyed
- Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and used for training
- Number of embryos not deemed viable for transfer or preservation and used for research
- Number of preserved embryos destroyed
- Number of preserved embryos used for research
- Number of preserved embryos donated to any person for research
- Number of embryos donated to another individual for transfer
- Percentage of pregnancies resulting in multi-fetal pregnancies broken down by number of fetuses
- Percentage of live births having multiple infants
- Number of selective reductions performed, broken down by number of embryos transferred before the reduction
- Percentage of selective reductions resulting in miscarriage
- Percentage of birth defects per single and multiple births
Penalties for non-compliance include:
- Failure to file a report results in automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct
- Filing a false report is a Class 1 misdemeanor (just below felony in the law)
- In addition to individual penalties, any organization or facility that violates the reporting requirements is subject to discipline by the Department including civil penalties.
Apart from intruding on the decisions of couples or individuals struggling with infertility, SB 1376 seeks to achieve other means, including intimidating doctors who practice assisted reproductive technology and eventually to shame those who rely on it to become pregnant, as well as a stepping stone to establishing “personhood” for fertilized eggs and embryos.