The Slippery Slope from Abortion to Infanticide
In June, the Supreme Court will review a case challenging a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion advocates are worried that, if the court, increasingly viewed as conservative, reverses the constitutional right to abortion, then 26 states may go ahead and ban abortion. This case and a Texas fetal-heartbeat law prohibiting abortion past six weeks have energized them into fervent campaigning. Democrat states are rallying with them by proposing laws allowing abortions right up to childbirth—and beyond. Indeed, a Maryland bill may effectively legalize infanticide.
How did America reach a stage in which legislatures entertain the idea that an individual’s right can take precedence over the right to life? The blame lies with advocacy groups dyed in leftist, feminist, and critical theory ideology. A systemic flaw they have exploited is the sponsored bill. It allows them to write a bill—clause, comma, and full stop—and gets it proposed by a pliant or sympathetic legislator. More on that in a future column. This one looks at how America has become so deeply divided by abortion laws that states discuss without guilt the murder of newborns.
Two landmark Supreme Court cases—Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992—decided the fate of fetuses in the U.S. Both upheld a woman’s constitutional right to seek an abortion. Casey doubled the first trimester borderline for abortions to 24 weeks (about six months) but with allowance for appraisal of fetus viability. States could therefore legislate restrictions between the end of the first trimester and the end of 24 weeks.
The Mississippi law of 2018—the Gestational Age Act—is one such law. The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only remaining abortion provider in the state, has challenged the law. Citing Roe, Casey, and decades of precedent, the Organization claimed that the law was unconstitutional.
Lower courts placed an injunction on the state, preventing it from enforcing the Act, whereupon Mississippi petitioned the Supreme Court. Oral arguments were heard in the case (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health ) in December; a final ruling is expected this summer, with a decision on whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”
Mississippi takes the position that “when an issue affects everyone and when the Constitution does not take sides on it, it belongs to the people.” It hopes to convince the Supreme Court to reverse both Roe, which legitimized abortion as a constitutional right, and Casey, which was based on an arbitrary viability position. The issue would then return to the states.
Organizations and individuals who support “reproductive freedom” and believe limits on pregnancy termination are “a violation of human rights” have already drawn the state-level battle lines in anticipation. Democrats, who draw strength from such groups, are seizing the opportunity to woo them by promising abortion havens.
Last year, the Texas Heartbeat Act, prohibiting abortion past six weeks, was enforced after the Supreme Court turned down a plea for relief filed by abortion providers in the state. Governor Gavin Newsom of California responded by pledging to “expand and protect access” to the procedure, turning his state into a “sanctuary” for abortion. He said, “I am outraged that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed Texas’s ban on most abortions to take effect. Silently, in the dead of night, the Supreme Court has eviscerated the fundamental protection of a woman’s right to choose that Roe v. Wade has protected for the last 50 years.”
In December, Newsom formed the California Future of Abortion Council (CA FAB), comprising 40 organizations, including the American Civil Rights Union, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro-Choice, to identify barriers to abortion services and make policy recommendations. Planned Parenthood Associates of California have proposed eight sponsored bills—a legislative package that bypasses voters’ opinions.
One of those eight bills, AB 2223, proposed in the California State Assembly by Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), will decriminalize the killing of newborns up until the first month of life. It will not only shield a mother from civil and criminal charges but also allow her to sue any police department or legal authority for charging or arresting her for killing her child.
AB 2223 passed the Assembly Judicial Committee on April 5; the Assembly Health Committee will consider it on April 19. If approved there, it will go for a vote in the Assembly.
Wicks says she put forth the bill after two California women who suffered stillbirths related to their extensive drug use were prosecuted and jailed for fetal murder. The cases were dismissed on the interpretation that the statute used was meant to criminalize violence done to pregnant women that caused fetal death, not a woman’s own actions resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth.
Another bill, SB 1375—proposed by Sen Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and not sponsored by Planned Parenthood—allows nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, and physicians’ assistants to perform first-trimester abortions without a physician’s supervision. The bill takes no account of the fact that women will be endangered if standards are dropped to put access before considerations of outcome.
Colorado, meanwhile, has already become the abortion “sanctuary” that Governor Newsom soon wants to make California. Last month, the House and Senate passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, permitting abortion-on-demand for any reason, even for minors. Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed it into law on April 4. It outlaws government interference in “reproductive healthcare.” Presuming to define life itself, the law says a “fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”
The sinister Maryland bill (SB0669), introduced recently, will prevent investigations and legal penalties at any point in the pregnancy as well as “perinatal” deaths related to “failure to act” up to the first 28 days after birth. In clear language, it affirms that fetuses neither have personhood nor any rights. It allows for a baby surviving an abortion to die without care with no penalties applied to providers. This gives the green light to exterminating unwanted and disabled babies. Lawsuits may be brought against authorities pursuing investigations or charges.
It remains to be seen how the Supreme Court will rule on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case. Pro-abortion groups are trying to raise an alarm by presenting the view that if the court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will become illegal. This is not true. The case hinges on a conflict between the Roe v. Wade ruling and court assertions that states have an interest in limiting abortion and protecting “vulnerable and innocent life” from the point of conception. What an overturning will do—if it happens—is let legislators, influenced by abortion advocacy groups, make it possible for people to go unprosecuted for causing death by neglect or other means of children up to one month of age. A far cry from abortion up to the point of viability.
America, as a society, must decide how much it values life.