“Post-Birth Abortion” Witch Hunt: Does Planned Parenthood Condone Murder?

In cases of a “botched” abortion, once delivered outside of the woman all efforts must be taken to support the newborn assuming it is viable. This is a far more complex issue to deal with (as opposed to the clear cut case of an abortion, say at one month into a pregnancy). But as in the case of “partial birth” abortions this is a woman’s right.

Capitalism Magazine writer Ed Cline had this to say on the recent controversy where it is claimed that “Planned Parenthood Official Argues for Right to Post-Birth Abortion“:

Here we have in this video (which I watched in its entirety) a woman being literally badgered by politicians asking her loaded questions (e.g., that hoary old chestnut of a courtroom question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”). Every one of them tried to coax out of her a confession that she condones “murder.” Not one queries her about the term or trimester in which an abortion has been performed. Was it at four months? Six months? Seven? Eight? And what is the physical condition of the “baby on the table”? Is it damaged? Is it an unsalvageable “preemie?” Was it going to be born defective, mentally or physically? Is it crying? Is it really a “patient on the table,” as the one snarky lawmaker remarked? There are a multitude of other issues appended to the abortion issue. But obviously the legislators weren’t interested in facts, not even medical facts. They were only interested in indicting the woman and abortionists and women who want an abortion for “murder,” who were all deemed guilty before the hearing convened. This was a witch hunt, not a civil enquiry.

 

While the Economy Lies in Peril Conservatives Spend Time Undermining a Woman’s Right to Abortion

From the NY Times:

FARGO, N.D. — Gov. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota approved the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions on Tuesday, signing into law a measure that would ban nearly all abortions and inviting a legal showdown over just how much states can limit access to the procedure.

[…] The most far-reaching law forbids abortion once a fetal heartbeat is “detectable,” which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Fetal heartbeats are detectable at that stage of pregnancy using a transvaginal ultrasound.

Most legal scholars have said the law would violate the Supreme Court’s finding in Roe v. Wade that abortions were permitted until the fetus was viable outside the womb, generally around 24 weeks. Even some leaders of the anti-abortion movement nationally have predicted that laws banning abortion so early in pregnancy are virtually certain to be declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

Bear in mind that after 24 weeks it is up to states to decide whether abortions are permitted or not.

“Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” Mr. Dalrymple said in a statement. The Supreme Court, he added, “has never considered this precise restriction” in the heartbeat bill.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration in the pro-life movement,” said Paul B. Linton, a constitutional lawyer in Illinois who was formerly general counsel of Americans United for Life. “Forty years after Roe v. Wade was decided, it’s still the law of the land.

The law also would ban sex-selective abortions and abortions based on genetic defects, such as Down Syndrome.

Abortion Restrictions By State

Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision, allows states to ban abortions after a fetus is viable outside the womb. But in the past three years, states have gone significantly further. North Dakota’s ban, at six weeks post-conception, is the earliest in the nation. The Washington Post as an interactive map chartingthese restrictions, using data from the Guttmacher Institute to map all the laws that ban later-term abortion in the United States.

Abortion laws by state

Link: The landscape of abortion bans, in one must-see map

Shades of Living Proof: Embryo Tracking

Sometimes the truth is a strange as fiction. As an example take a proposed legislation in Arizona (SB 1376) that is eerily similar to the scenario presented in the fiction novel, Living Proof.

Writes Jodi Jacobson on In New Push for “Personhood,” Arizona Anti-Choicers Push Bill to Track Every Embryo:

An Arizona group seeking to establish legal personhood for fertilized eggs and embryos is proposing a new way for the state to keep tabs on the personal reproductive decisions of its citizens: Embryo tracking.
 
A bill quietly wending its way through the Arizona legislature would create a database to track every embryo in the state created through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), defined in the bill as: “Any procedure, treatment or medical or scientific intervention provided for the purpose of formation of a human embryo with the intent to produce a live birth.” It has nine Republican co-sponsors.
 
[…]
 
CAP also opposes the practice of assisted reproductive technology for couples or individuals struggling with infertility, and so their answer is to pry into the lives of those seeking such assistance and making all details of their medical treatment public. Similar to portions of SB 1361, another bill from the 2012 legislative session, this newer bill seeks to capture and make publicly available information on the disposition of every embryo created in the process of in-vitro fertilization, and the results of every treatment involving ART.  The information required is largely redundant to the statistics and information submitted to the CDC, most of which is publicly available.
 
According to a source who works in communications in Arizona but spoke to us without attribution, “each legislative session since 2010 we have seen bills seeking to eliminate or reduce the ability of Arizonans confronted with infertility to utilize ART to build their families. These attempts have always included severe penalties for the physicians who treat these patients in our state.” CAP, according to the source, also has been:
“…trying and failing for full personhood that would ban abortion by, basically, making doctors and women guilty of murder.  They have failed to date, thankfully, which is why CAP has altered their approach. Instead of coming after personhood head on, they are now taking smaller steps that seem somewhat innocuous. In addition to the redundant and unnecessary reporting, much of which is already required by the CDC, this is merely the beginning of a constant chipping away at the choices available for Arizona families. 

[…]

If passed, SB 1376 would threaten the practices and licenses of reproductive endocrinologists in Arizona. Failure to file reports or filing a false report on embryo creation, transfer, destruction, or movement from one facility to another would be a criminal act and result in an automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct. Facilities that violate the requirements are subject to discipline by the state Department of Health Services and also to civil penalties.

This bill requires all “ART” facilities to report annually (either electronically or in written form) the following information to the State Department of Health Services, which in turn would make it publicly available:

  • Total number of live births achieved
  • Rate of live births per transfer
  • Percentage of live births per completed cycle of egg retrieval
  • Percentage of transferred embryos that implant

Information regarding the safekeeping of embryos including:

  • Number of embryos formed
  • Number of embryos transferred
  • Number of embryos preserved
  • Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and destroyed
  • Number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and used for training
  • Number of embryos not deemed viable for transfer or preservation and used for research
  • Number of preserved embryos destroyed
  • Number of preserved embryos used for research
  • Number of preserved embryos donated to any person for research
  • Number of embryos donated to another individual for transfer
  • Percentage of pregnancies resulting in multi-fetal pregnancies broken down by number of fetuses
  • Percentage of live births having multiple infants
  • Number of selective reductions performed, broken down by number of embryos transferred before the reduction
  • Percentage of selective reductions resulting in miscarriage
  • Percentage of birth defects per single and multiple births

Penalties for non-compliance include:

  • Failure to file a report results in automatic determination of an act of unprofessional conduct
  • Filing a false report is a Class 1 misdemeanor (just below felony in the law)
  • In addition to individual penalties, any organization or facility that violates the reporting requirements is subject to discipline by the Department including civil penalties.

Apart from intruding on the decisions of couples or individuals struggling with infertility, SB 1376 seeks to achieve other means, including intimidating doctors who practice assisted reproductive technology and eventually to shame those who rely on it to become pregnant, as well as a stepping stone to establishing “personhood” for fertilized eggs and embryos. 

Roe vs. Wade: Forty Years Later (Audio)

The Ayn Rand Institute has just released the first episode of their new podcast Eye to Eye which focuses on Abortion and Roe vs. Wade.

From their website:

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision on the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. With a 7-to-2 majority vote, the court struck down state bans on abortion, prompting a national debate that continues forty years later. That decision — as well the subject of abortion itself — remains divisive. Activists on both sides debate whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, how the Supreme Court shapes the law on issues of constitutionality, and the role of morality and religious views in the political sphere. On this episode of Eye to Eye, ARI’s new podcast, hosts Jordan McGillis and Amanda Maxham sit down with Dr. Onkar Ghate, ARI’s senior fellow, and Tom Bowden, legal analyst, to discuss the political, legal and moral questions surrounding abortion.

Some of the topics covered include:

  • Ayn Rand’s view on abortion and the Roe v. Wade ruling
  • The legal basis for the Roe v. Wade decision
  • The state-level attempts to undermine Roe v. Wade
  • Abortion and individual rights
  • The labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice”
  • “Personhood” amendments
  • Ayn Rand’s view on the nature of sex
  • Health care, abortion, and contraception
  • Abortion and the Tea Party movement
  • The separation of church and state
  • The morality of abortion
  • Objective legal interpretation
  • The future of the Roe v. Wade decision

Link | Podcast: Play in new window | Download

 

Grasping the essence of the abortion issue

The two key issues to focus on are: the nature of a fetus, and the nature of individual rights.

The first issue to grasp is the difference between potential and actual. A fetus is not an actual human being, but is human tissue. A fetus is only a potential human being, just like an acorn is a potential oak tree. That a fetus is potential human being, does not make it an actual one. Once you grasp this point, you need to grasp a much more complex point — which is not self-evident — about the nature of rights.

The second issue to grasp is that rights only apply to actual human beings. Rights only apply to human beings; they apply to human beings because man survives by reason. Men do not survive — at least for long — like animals do in the jungle. Rather then hunting for food like an animal, man grows it. He builds houses to protect himself from hurricanes and storms. He creates clothing to keep warm. He discovers drugs to kill bacteria that may cause him harm. He manufactures refrigerators to keep his food fresh. This is why man has rights — and animals do not — to leave his mind free to think, and his body free to act on that thinking. As a fetus does not use reason to survive; but, rather it survives on the sustenance provided by the body of its’ host, a fetus has no rights, and no need for rights. A fetus has no right to life, liberty, property.

The key issue in this context is that a fetus has no right to be inside the body of another human being, because no such right exists. Yet, this is the only kind of ‘right’ it requires to exist. To grant the fetus such a right, would make its host — the pregnant mother — a slave. Slavery is not a right.

This in essence is the case for a woman’s moral right to abortion: a fetus is not an actual human being, but is only human tissue inside the body of an actual human being. Rights only apply to actual human beings (whether a new born child, or a hundred year old grandfather, or a pregnant woman), as they require freedom to act by the use of their mind.

What motivates women who crusade against abortion?

What motivates women who crusade against abortion? I’ve always wondered this.

I think the American philosopher Ayn Rand identifies their motivation. It is not love, but hatred. Writes Rand:

“I cannot project the degree of hatred required to make those women run around in crusades against abortion. Hatred is what they certainly project, not love for the embryos, which is a piece of nonsense no one could experience, but hatred, a virulent hatred for an unnamed object…Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves ‘pro-life.’ “

Religious Conservatives Attack Individual Rights By Opposing Abortion

Writes Onkar Ghate on the relationship between individual rights as the basis for a woman’s right to abortion:

Religious conservatives like Paul Ryan have to distance themselves from Rand’s philosophy. Theirs is an inconsistent position. Ryan, for instance, wants to be seen as an advocate of individual rights while simultaneously making a mockery of a woman’s right to the pursuit of happiness by proposing to force her to bring a pregnancy to term even in the case of rape.

Rand rejects such medievalism. Precisely because raising a child is a personal and immense undertaking, a woman must have the freedom to judge whether and when to have children. To equate an embryo with a human being, a potential with the actual, and then to declare the willful ending of a pregnancy murder, is to abandon reason and science in favor of mystical Church dogmas. No government, Rand argued, should have the power to dictate to a woman in such matters; it’s her life and her decision. [“A Liberal Ayn Rand?“, 11 November 2012, Onkar Ghate]

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