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I generally try to stay away from Facebook during debates on abortion. I’ve come to this decision from a great deal of experience doing the opposite, and I’ve come to the conclusion that for my own mental health and soul, I don’t need to know how many in my social circle are perfectly comfortable with barbarism. In the course of scrolling the other day, I saw a debate over the new law passed in New York allowing abortion, for basically any reason whatsoever, up until the moment of birth. It is evil personified, and unfortunately, a number of friends were cheering this advancement for “women’s health.”
One of my friends posted a comment that elicited a number of “likes” from the like-minded, proclaiming how sexist it is to accuse women of walking into a third-trimester abortion needlessly, because no woman would or could ever do that to their body and their child without “good” reason.
I’d like to break that claim down for a minute. First: what are their justifications? Both are related to health, one of the mother, and the other, of the child. I have never heard of a health situation where a mother has to deliver a baby in the third trimester for her own health, but the baby has to be born dead instead of alive.
The other reason is due to the health of the baby; a defect has been discovered late in a pregnancy that make the baby non-viable or will be debilitatingly disabled. I am sympathetic to this argument to a point. We don’t wish for our children to suffer, and we don’t want to walk around big and pregnant, having to make small-talk with everyone we encounter about a baby that won’t be born alive.
One of the unfortunate parts of parenthood is the fact that you sign up to parent a child sight-unseen. We can’t guarantee the health of our children, not at birth, not in their toddler years, not ever. We would never tell a parent of a toddler stricken with cancer their child is better off chopped into pieces instead of being put into hospice. I don’t see the difference between a toddler with cancer and a seven-month gestation fetus with a birth defect incompatible with life.
What I found most troubling about my friend’s statement, though, was how painfully naive it was. Only someone raised in the comfort of a loving home and community could be under the illusion that a woman would never hurt their child needlessly. All one has to do is turn on the local news, or talk to an experienced foster parent, to discover the evils parents, both mothers and fathers, are capable of. I find it sexist to believe women are one-dimensional: only capable of loving care of their children, and not of evil. There isn’t much reliable research into why women have late-term abortions, and many of the stories we hear are upper-middle-class women with access to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post or the New York Times. But let’s look for a moment at the women who came to have abortions (many of which would now be legal in New York) at Kermit Gosnell’s clinic. What were their reasons? By and large, they were the same reasons most women give for having abortions, they just didn’t get around to having them for many more months than most. They weren’t ready for a baby, their partner left them mid-pregnancy, they just didn’t want to have a child. All of these were justifications given for delivering a viable baby and killing it upon birth. Gosnell was convicted because he killed the babies on the wrong end of the birth canal, but what he did is now basically legal in New York State.
Every week, we are faced with new evidence we live in fallen times. Some weeks, the evidence is more clear than others.