As usual, “The Editors” at America Magazine are all over the map but miss the mark.
The recently passed abortion laws in Georgia and Alabama have raised the temperature of the national debate nearly to the boiling point. The law in Georgia, keyed to the detection of fetal cardiac activity, would restrict abortion after about the sixth week of pregnancy; it also defines human beings in the womb, at any stage of development, as “natural persons.” Alabama’s law bans abortion at any stage of pregnancy. While these laws allow exceptions for cases where a woman’s life would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to delivery, neither law has exceptions allowing abortion in cases of rape or incest.
And there should be no exceptions. How a person is conceived doesn’t change the fact that they are a person.
Much discussion of these bills has described them as “extreme,” while almost universally neglecting the most significant cause of such “extremism.” Many commentators recognize that these new laws are designed to mount a legal challenge to Roe v. Wade—but they fail to notice that these laws’ blunt restrictions are a mirror image of Roe’s broad rejection of any practical or effective limits on abortion. When abortion rights advocates defend Roe in order to reject any proposed restriction of abortion, they are taking an extreme position. That leaves no ground open for any compromise on less extreme laws. Pro-life legislators are going to meet the same tooth-and-nail opposition whether they aim to ban all abortions or, as recently seen in the U.S. Senate, attempt to require that infants born alive during an abortion receive medical care.”
The laws in Georgia and Alabama aren’t “extreme,” and they’re certainly not “extreme” because of Roe Vs. Wade. The laws are right (or at least on the right track in the case of those states trying to limit before they ban) because abortion is killing a child. There can be no compromise on that. There is no room for compromise and there never was. America Magazine wants to paint this as a war of extremists, but this is a war of right and wrong. Even if nobody gets it, we are still right to try to ban all killing of children. And America Magazine acts as if minor, incremental moves haven’t been tried since 1973. They seem to want us to keep the status quo we’ve had for decades. No thank you.
And, because people are going to bring up the areas where both mom and baby “are sure to die!” let me address that. The closest thing to that a situation like that is an ectopic pregnancy, and maybe an advanced cancer of some sort. Let’s look at those before we go on. The Church, and as far as I can tell, Alabama, have the same position on “indirect abortions” as far as treating the diseased parts of the body goes. What does this mean? Ireland used to be spot on in this, which is why they had one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. It used to be that in every pregnancy in Ireland, a doctor acted as if there were two patients and did his best to save both. Yes, on occasion, there is a “no-win” situation where at least one will die if the diseased part of the body isn’t treated. The Church doesn’t say we can’t treat that diseased part of the body, but the BABY is never considered the disease and this is exactly how it was handled there.
Now let’s use the old “no win” situation of an ectopic pregnancy for those who have never really delved into the issue. It used to be thought that the baby was stuck in the tube and would die, and if the tube should burst or infection occur, the mom would also die. First of all, there have been miraculous “extra-uterine” pregnancies where the baby actually does escape the tube but never quite makes it to the uterus and all turns out well after a c-section delivery. However, the usual course is that the baby will indeed die, and without removal of the tube with baby, mom will also die. The Church has concluded, in a case like this, that a doctor can treat the diseased part of the body and remove baby AND tube to prevent the tubal rupture from causing infection and killing mom. They are not allowed to directly and purposely abort the child (remove from tube) to try and save the tube. That would be a direct abortion. So, in short, the Church has always provided for seemingly impossible situations. I could pitch a number of situations that fit this bill, but it should suffice to say that when there are no plausible treatments for a situation that will save both patients, doctors are allowed to employ a myriad of treatments to save the mother by treating the diseased part of the body (again, not the baby) even if it results in the baby dying. Hearkening again to countries like Ireland, they spent a lot of time figuring out the best ways to treat both patients with fabulous results. We should have been doing this, too. Unfortunately, the status quo here has been “Just save yourself and you can try again later!”.
Consistently over decades, polls show that a significant majority of Americans support stricter restrictions on abortion than allowed under Roe, yet not as stark as those established by these new laws. American public opinion on the legality of abortion is conflicted and contradictory. According to one poll conducted this month, half of voters believe that the six-week “heartbeat laws” are either “just right” or even “too lenient;” another poll found that two-thirds of U.S. adults oppose overturning Roe. But under Roe and its successor decision, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, the abortion limits many voters want, even while abortion remains legal, are rendered unconstitutional. About 60 percent of Americans support legal abortion during the first three months of pregnancy, but far fewer—less than one-third—support it up to six months. But Casey’s “undue burden” standard disallows abortion restrictions anytime before fetal viabilit (around six months), which is not what most Americans would choose.
Blah, blah, blah. Morality has nothing to do with polls. It has to deal with truth, and as many have said as of late, truth is still truth even if nobody believes it. America Magazine spews polls left and right as if Catholics believe in moral relativism.
There is a large gap between what Roe requires and what Americans believe about abortion. But addressing this gap remains politically unimaginable for pro-choice activists, as long as they present the possibility of Roe being overturned as an acute political crisis. In reality, the reverse is the case. The ongoing political crisis is a consequence of the persistent failure of Roe and Casey to settle the abortion question and the failure of the Supreme Court to offer any sign that these cases ever will.
We don’t need to address “gaps.” We need to address good, stand up to evil, and embrace truth. We don’t need to worry about polls. Thankfully, many states seem to be recognizing this more and more. They finally realize playing the numbers game didn’t really work. I think “The Editors” realize this, too. I think they get it just fine. They’re just hoping you don’t.
In her majority opinion upholding Roe in Casey v. Planned Parenthood, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that “the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution calls the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution.” On the abortion question, this call has manifestly and expressly failed for more than 45 years, while distorting national politics and contributing to national division. The wreckage of these cases needs to be cleared for the country to move forward.
“Oh, division. It’s so evil.” Listen, there’s three ways this can go down. We can be united in the killing of children, we can be united in the protection of children, or we can be divided over this. I’m happy if everyone picks door number two, but I am willing to live with door number three because I’m sure as heck not going to pick door number one just for the sake of unity. Unity is only grand if it’s moral, and making exceptions to killing children isn’t moral.
The Alabama and Georgia laws are far from perfect. They should have been accompanied by equally vigorous support for women struggling with pregnancy. They will almost certainly be suspended by injunction before they are implemented, and whenever they eventually reach the Supreme Court, they are unlikely to be upheld in all the details of their current form. If these laws are upheld and Roe is overturned or limited, they will need to be modified in order to be practically and justly enforced. But the legislative work of answering the challenging moral questions about abortion will at least be possible. While that will not end political divisions over abortion, it would allow us to engage them more honestly.
Aaaaaaand there’s the usual seamless garment logic. It’s akin to “No, Mr. Fireman! Don’t go in to save people in that burning building until homelessness has been cured!” I’m wondering if America Magazine realizes that there are 38ish crisis pregnancy centers in Alabama, and it was just reported that they have a HUGE adoption rate from foster care, too. Can more be done? Always. Do we have to stuff bills with ever conceivable social ill before we stop killing children? Absolutely not! Start with keeping as many children as possible from being slaughtered and their moms from being irreparably harmed. “The Editors” at America Magazine want you to think that’s “far from perfect.” Does this surprise anyone?