Roe's Lines in the Sand

On the July 19, 2015 edition of Fox News Sunday, former congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) stated her support for Roe v. Wade and for abortion.  Then she voiced her opposition to the way in which fetuses are crushed in selected areas of their bodies in order to preserve certain heart, liver, and other tissues, as was recently revealed by the recent video of Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  Does Ms. Harman not see the illogic of this position?

Abortion rights proponents declare, and Roe v. Wade supports, the proposition that a fetus is merely a part of the woman’s body, which she may choose to have removed at her discretion (within certain time constraints).  A fetus therefore has no more protection than, say, an appendix.  If the woman arbitrarily chooses to have a healthy appendix removed, and can find a doctor with more greed than ethics (like any abortion doctor), the doctor will cut out the appendix.  Now, having done so, suppose the doctor crushes the what?  It was just a piece of tissue, after all.  One cannot brutalize a piece of inanimate, removed tissue, can he?

And yet, Ms. Harman strongly opposes the selective crushing of fetal body parts.  Why?  By the logic of any abortion rights proponent, the fetus is simply a mass of inanimate tissue.

If anyone recognizes the brutality inherent in the selective crushing of certain parts of the aborted fetus, then he or she is unconsciously recognizing the living, feeling nature of the human being embodied within that fetus.  After all, inanimate tissue has no feelings and cannot be brutalized.  Only a living organism can be brutalized.

Either the fetus is mere tissue and worthy of no regard, or it is a human life to be protected from crushing.  Make up your mind!

Try to convince a doctor to remove your perfectly healthy appendix, and see which psychiatric ward they send you to.  Why aren’t women who seek an abortion given treatment for mental health issues?

Perhaps the abortion rights supporters could learn something important by closely studying Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s dissenting opinion in Akron v Akron Reproductive Health.  In it, Justice O’Connor pointed out a similar illogic upon which the seminal abortion case, Roe v. Wade, was decided.  The Court in Roe essentially “drew lines in the sand” by establishing an arbitrary trimester framework.  This framework controls the level of protection a fetus will receive, based upon the point of gestation; it was based upon the time when a fetus’s life could be sustained outside the womb by then-available techniques of medical science.  The obvious problem with establishing such an arbitrary framework, O’Connor argued, lies in the continuing advance of medical knowledge.  “As medical science becomes better able to provide for the separate existence of the fetus, the point of viability is moved further back toward conception.”  Therefore, she reasoned, “there is no justification in law or logic for the trimester framework adopted in Roe...”  O’Connor went on to state that the potential for human life exists at any stage of a pregnancy. 

In other words, human life begins at the moment of conception.

Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, and in 42 years great strides in fetal and embryonic life sustenance have been made; yet the arbitrary trimester-based “lines in the sand” have not been substantively changed.  In recent times, millions of babies who could have survived outside the womb have nevertheless been sacrificed on the altar of expediency.  The loss of lives, literally, is crushing.