Liberty Expose: Aborting Our Humanity

Ernesto Andrade  | Flickr Creative Commons

Ernesto Andrade | Flickr Creative Commons

Nearly 46 years after the Supreme Court made its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) which paved the way for the legalization of abortion, the topic has dominated politics in 2019 as both state and federal governments are deciding whether late-term and post-birth abortion should be restricted. The controversy over the issue was born after New York passed a new bill that would permit abortions up until the final week of pregnancy, and when embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made comments that suggested he would support a similar bill that made it easier to get an abortion during the third trimester. These events deeply alarmed conservatives and pro-life advocates, as these new (or suggested) laws could pave the way for legalized infanticide. While Democrats in Congress rejected a bill that would have protected newborns, they are not on the same page as the American public. The fact that we have to discuss accepting infanticide is a startling and unfortunate development.

The bill in question was Nebraska Senator Sasse’s “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Act” which would mandate medical professionals to provide immediate care to newborns that survived an abortion procedure. Pro-choice and other liberal groups like the Women’s March came out strongly against the bill, claiming it to be another attempt to control a woman’s body. The legislation would go further than a law passed in 2002 that prohibited infanticide as it would impose penalties on medical professionals who willingly allow a newborn to die; and, it gives the mother civil cause to sue the abortionist “if her child is not cared for after birth.” Because the bill required 60 votes to pass the Senate, it never had a chance as the final tally was 53-47. The majority of the Republicans voted in favor of the bill, except for Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who has always been a wild card in the abortion debate. Every Democratic Senator, including the six Democrats running for President, voted against the bill.

Abortion continues to be a divisive issue for Americans. Recent polling has shown that people are becoming more pro-life, but only barely. According to a Marist poll cited by Real Clear Politics, nearly 65 percent of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should be revisited by the Supreme Court -- 49 percent of these people think states should have the power to determine restrictions. However, this poll is conflicted by another conducted by Pew Research Center back in October which showed that 58 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in almost all cases, exemplifying how split the public is on the subject. The Pew poll also shows that only Republicans believe that abortion should be illegal, as 60 percent of Independents and 76 percent of Democrats believe there should be “little to no restrictions” on the matter.

It seems unlikely that Republicans and pro-life activists could push for greater restrictions on abortion just through the legislature. The GOP would need to gain a 60 plus majority in the Senate, regain control of the House, and even that strategy has faults. The only avenue of recourse the Right has is for the Supreme Court to reverse its decision on Roe v. Wade, but that is currently unlikely to happen. Since the SCOTUS is still split 5-4, there is a possibility that one of the conservative-leaning Justices sides with the liberal-leaning members of the court in respect for the precedent established by the Burger Court. Any attempt to change precedent rests in a liberal-leaning judge retiring from their post and for President Trump to nominate a deeply conservative justice like Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  

As both a secular but conservative person, the issue of abortion in general tears at my heart-strings. I can understand the need for abortion, especially in cases where the pregnancy is forced upon the woman or the pregnancy is potentially life-ending for the mother. I also fear that criminalizing it in its entirety would drive the whole practice underground, making it much harder to regulate. At the same time, it should not be a practice that is celebrated. There is nothing to celebrate about a practice that ends in the termination of a life that never got the chance to experience it (I also view the death penalty as a morally repugnant act that goes against the pro-life creed). As President Clinton once said, abortion should be safe, legal, and rare; but, it should not be the go-to procedure to stop a pregnancy. Fortunately, because there are many different options available to the public, abortion rates have fallen considerably. This trend must be encouraged by supporting policies that make contraceptives readily available.

The failure of Sen. Sasse’s bill, while predictable, is a tragedy for the moral fabric of the United States. Whatever your view is on abortion, allowing those who initially survived the abortion procedure only to die on the table is utterly unconscionable. These are living, breathing human beings that have the right to live as much as anyone else. Furthermore, newborns deserve the same protections everyone else enjoys. If survivors of abortions do not receive immediate medical care that results in their demise, then those responsible should be held as criminally responsible for manslaughter. At the same time, the state needs to bolster programs that support families so that they can afford to take care of these children. No child deserves to be left behind, and conservatives need to fight to protect those who cannot protect themselves.