Note: this is a re-working of a post which I’d published earlier and then decided to pull for further editing. For any of you who are subscribed via email or RSS, I apologize for the (sort-of) double posting.
You may have heard of state Senator Wendy Davis’ (D-TX) filibuster, where she talked for over twelve hours during Texas’ special session in an effort to block SB 5, an omnibus bill which would regulate certain aspects of abortion. As I understand it, the bill had previously been passed in both the Texas Senate and the House, but the Senate version had been passed without the section which would make abortion after 20 weeks illegal – so this was a concurrence vote.
I’m not going to go into great detail about what happened – it should be easy for you to go look it up if you don’t know much about it. Or you can just read about it here, or here, or here, or here. Instead, I’m going to ask what no one else seems to be asking: What makes this bill so pro-life?
At first glance, restricting abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy may seem to be pro-life, yet the section clearly states that:
“[R]estricting elective abortions at or later than 20
weeks post-fertilization, as provided by this Act, does not impose
an undue burden or a substantial obstacle on a woman’s ability to
have an abortion… the woman has adequate time to decide whether to have an abortion in the first 20 weeks after fertilization”
(The reasoning behind the date of 20 weeks is that, “substantial medical evidence recognizes that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization”.)
Now, no matter how much feminists may scream and holler, they can’t deny the fact that even Roe v. Wade puts a limit on when one may murder their child. In the case of Roe v. Wade, it is somewhere around 40 weeks, give or take. You can’t have the doctor murder your baby after she is born. That’s illegal.
For pr0-choice folks to be consistent in their logic and reasoning, they should support a woman’s “right to choose” in all three of the following (entirely hypothetical) scenarios:
A: “I really didn’t intend to be a mother at this point. I’ve twenty-five weeks along, and having doubts about whether or not to continue this pregnancy. My finances are tight, how will I care for a baby? I’d always planned to wait until the age of thirty or so before having to worry about kids – I really don’t feel that this is a good time. It’s not convenient, and I want to finish college first. Besides, it’s my right, right?”
B: “I’ve had baby Johnny for three weeks now, and I just can’t handle it anymore. I’ve got the postpartum blues, and he wakes me up every night with his wailing. I did some math today and realized just how much his diapers are going to cost. He needs constant care, is incredibly demanding, and he is draining every once of my energy. I really don’t want to do this anymore. It’s probably best for me to ask the doctor to give him a lethal injection at our next check-up.”
C: “I’ve been a loving, patient mother for seventeen years, but I don’t know if I can give Suzy the care she deserves. Not only has she been rebelling a bit lately, she’s also been looking at colleges, and I’ve realized that there is no way I’ll be able to send her to one. I want to give my daughter the very best, but I really don’t think that I can right now. I’ll probably be able to get my younger kids through college if I save up now, but since I can’t give Suzy the very best… I think I’ll take steps to terminate her life.”
Obviously, even the most ardent feminists don’t go around approving of scenarios “B” and “C” – but they do fight tooth-and-nail if someone says that scenario “A” is horribly wrong, and should also be illegal. With their logic, they cannot clearly state why “B” and “C” are so terribly wrong without also condemning “A”.
The bill says that 20 weeks is a long enough period of time for a woman to decide whether or not to get an abortion. Roe v. Wade says that 40+- weeks is long enough. The debate, then, is not one of whether or not you may get an abortion, but rather, how long it should take for a women to know whether or not she wishes to murder her baby.
The rest of the bill, in my opinion, is completely in line with the professed ideology of Roe v. Wade. According to prochoice.org:
“In the years before Roe v. Wade, the estimates of illegal abortions ranged as high as 1.2 million per year. Although accurate records could not be kept, it is known that between the 1880s and 1973, many thousands of women were harmed as a result of illegal abortion.”
“Many women died or suffered serious medical problems after attempting to self-induce their abortions or going to untrained practitioners who performed abortions with primitive methods or in unsanitary conditions. During this time, hospital emergency room staff treated thousands of women who either died or were suffering terrible effects of abortions provided without adequate skill and care.”
“The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made it possible for women to get safe, legal abortions from well-trained medical practitioners. This led to dramatic decreases in pregnancy-related injury and death.”
In other words, the fact that abortion was illegal resulted in it being incredibly dangerous, and making it legal also made it safe. I’ve read SB 5 through several times, and I can’t figure out what part of it is supposedly contesting Roe v. Wade.
Several pro-choice people have been protesting this part of the bill:
[T]he minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted under Section 243.010 for ambulatory surgical centers.
Why are they protesting this? It’s simply an attempt to keep abortion safe, right? Isn’t that what they want? A safe way to murder the unborn, isn’t that their goal? Why does this result in Sen. Davis filibustering it? Why did the hashtag “#standwithwendy” go viral among the “pro-choice” community? Why did the crowd erupt in protest when lawmakers tried to end the filibuster?
“If SB 5 becomes law, the vast majority of the abortion clinics in the Lone Star state will be forced to close their doors — potentially dropping the state’s abortion providers down from 47 to just five”, one site warns. Yet, I can’t find anything in the bill which could be considered radical in its safety restrictions in any way.
To require abortion facilities to be held to the same standards as other surgical centers? To ensure that a doctor is present when an abortion pill is administered? To make sure that follow-up care is given, that the woman has the proper phone numbers to call if something goes wrong? This isn’t pro-life, people. It’s supposed to be why Roe v. Wade was enacted in the first place – it’s supposed to make abortion safe.
If forty-something clinics in Texas would be forced to shut down, the question should be that of why? Perhaps abortion, even when legal, isn’t “safe”? Or maybe Gosnell’s “house of horrors” isn’t an isolated case?
Will the repercussions of this bill being passed (and, it seems inevitable that it will eventually be passed) end up saving at least a few lives? Probably. Does that make it “pro-life”? No, not really… though I and many others can rejoice if it results in even one life being spared, it really isn’t all that radical.