Well, it’s that time again. A national election is weeks away. So I guess it’s time for my quadrennial election column. Which, as it turns out, is pretty much always about the abortion issue.
This time, I want to focus on one part of that issue specifically — the issue of late-term abortion. I do this because Colorado will be voting on ballot measures to limit these late-term abortions. Currently, we are one of seven states with no limit on what gestational age an abortion can be performed. Proposition 115 bans abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks, unless the life of the mother is in immediate danger. The measure provides penalties for doctors who perform such abortions, but specifies that no charges may be brought against the women who undergo them.
I thought perhaps it was time to take just a brief look at the issue.
First of all, let’s understand what we’re talking about. An abortion after 22 weeks is performed using a method called dilation and extraction. Which basically means that the cervix is dilated, and the baby, who weighs anywhere from one pound to full birth weight, is “extracted” from the uterus and destroyed. The way it is performed is disturbing, to say the least. (Consider this my “trigger warning” for the squeamish.) The doctor begins by injecting the baby’s heart, to kill him or her. This, according to Wikipedia, is done in order to “soften the bones.” In a “non-intact extraction” the doctor then uses forceps to grab, twist, crush and separate the various baby parts, until the uterus is empty. The baby is then re-assembled on a table, to make sure no parts were left behind. In an “intact extraction” the baby is delivered, feet first, until only the head remains inside his or her mother’s body. And then the doctor either crushes the baby’s head, or jams scissors in the back of the skull and suctions the brains out.
It’s horrifying. And it makes me physically ill to think that we can’t find a more humane way to solve women’s problems, whatever they may be.
So why does anybody think this gruesome procedure should be, or remain, legal? Let’s look at the arguments against Prop 115, as taken directly from BallotPedia:
“The measure does not include any exceptions for risks to the woman’s health or for a woman who has been the victim of rape or incest.”
The health of the mother is obviously the most powerful argument. But let’s think about this. This isn’t a tiny embryo. It is a fetus somewhere between 22 and 36 weeks of development. The earliest premature baby to survive was born at 21 weeks. Leaving aside for the moment the St. Gianna Molla option of a mother sacrificing her life for her child, wouldn’t it be more compassionate to deliver the child alive, and do everything possible to try to save both lives? As for rape or incest, I oppose those abortions at any stage. But would even an abortion supporter find a need to allow them after a woman has already been pregnant for five to nine months?
“The choice to end a pregnancy is often a serious and difficult decision, and should be left solely up to the woman, in consultation with her doctor and in accordance with her beliefs.”
In what other area of law or life do we allow one person to take the life of another “in accordance with her beliefs?”
“In addition, it provides no exceptions for the detection of a serious fetal abnormality after 22 weeks, which may force women to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term.”
This is a baby currently alive but expected to die later. So, no. We don’t slice babies up, or suck their brains out, because they have short life expectancy. I understand that it is a tremendous sacrifice for a woman to carry a baby not expected to survive long after birth. But those babies have been known to surprise even the professionals. And, whether they live hours or days or weeks or months, they are created in the image and likeness of God, loved by Him, and destined for eternal life on His timetable, not ours. When we prematurely end their lives, we make ourselves gods, and we override God’s plan for the unfolding of that child’s life, no matter how brief.
“After 21 weeks only 1.2% of abortion procedures are initiated.”
And that comes to over 8000 incidents per year in the U.S. Saying this brutality “only” happens 8000 times per year is hardly a ringing endorsement.
Particularly sad to me is the obscene amount of money that has been thrown at keeping these obscene procedures legal. According to BallotPedia, “The campaign supporting [Prop 115] had raised $257,398 in contributions. Opponents of the initiative had raised $5.3 million.” A vast majority of that money has come from the various Planned Parenthood organizations.
We are David, fighting Goliath.
I want to make it clear that I join the Church in opposing abortion at any stage, in any way it’s performed. To quote Dr. Seuss, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Every abortion stops a human heartbeat. So many women I know and love have had abortions. Some I know about, some I only surmise. In the cases I know about, they have suffered greatly in the aftermath. I just don’t think we solve women’s problems by taking their money, invading their bodies, killing their babies and sending them home.
We can do better for women, and for their children.
I know this is a complicated, messy, difficult election on so many levels. But I’m asking you — imploring you — to keep the unborn in mind as you cast your votes.
And vote yes on Prop 115.