“How can you not define that as a person?”
posted at 4:53 pm on February 7, 2013 by Guy Benson
CNN’s Erin Burnett seemed to experience an “a-ha” moment on her program this week, as she covered the story of an unborn child killed by a drunk driver in Colorado. Because state law doesn’t consider fetuses worthy of legal protection, the assailant faces no charges for ending the life of young “Brady,” who was due to be born within days. Burnett couldn’t contain her indignance over the injustice (via Live Action):
“That baby was 8 pounds, 2 ounces. He was going to be born in a couple of days. How could you not define that as a person? That is a viable life.”
This legal blind spot scratches the surface of the larger abortion debate. Some pro-choice advocates will argue that Brady’s situation is different from an abortion because his mother had chosen to keep him. But should someone’s relative “wantedness” determine whether or not she counts as a human being? That’s a very problematic ethical standard. Others will say that Brady was in the third trimester of life and viable outside the womb, so it’s an unfair comparison because most abortions occur earlier in the gestational cycle. These are valid points, but they implicitly suggest that there is some antepartum stage at which an unborn child’s right to life outweighs the right of the mother to control her own bodily sovereignty. When does that moment arrive, though? The two brightest lines on this question are conception (or implantation) and birth. “Viability” is an evolving standard that edges ever closer to conception as science and medical technology improve. The child, of course, has no say in these matters, and cannot speak in her own defense. Abortion is a complex and difficult moral question. Like most Americans, I believe that unfettered abortion at any stage of pregnancy for virtually any reason is repugnant and ought not be legal. I also don’t pretend to hold the key to discerning precisely when a fetus becomes a baby, based on the standard of viability. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that we settle on the date of five months. Should we then conclude that the exact same living being ought to be denied legal protection at four months and 30 days? How could we justify that seemingly arbitrary threshold, especially as technology continues to evolve. These very quandaries compel pro-lifers to err on the side of life. This has nothing to do with a “war on women.” Indeed, millions more future women have been aborted than future men. It is a question of conflicting interests and human rights. Hats off to Erin Burnett for her candor on an important subject.
UPDATE – The Live Action story notes that Colorado Democrats and their allies at Planned Parenthood recently blocked an abortion-neutral bill that would have made fetal homicide a crime — thus denying legal rights to even wanted unborn children. The pro-abortion lobby and their legislative allies cannot abide any laws that recognize the humanity of these children because that might surrender an inch or two in the abortion debate. Remember, though, conservatives are the zealots on these issues.