When It Comes to the ROE Act Bill, What Are We Really Talking About?

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2019/06/24/when-it-comes-to-the-roe-act-bill-what-are-we-really-talking-about/

Alan Guttmacher, strong supporter of the 20th century eugenics movement and onetime president of Planned Parenthood who led the legal battle to legalize abortion, would be impressed with the Roe Act Infanticide bill (Massachusetts House Bill 3320 and Massachusetts Senate Bill 1209). He would be impressed because the Infanticide Bill removes virtually all restrictions on late-term abortions for pregnancies beyond 24 weeks.

Massachusetts state Representative Patricia Haddad (D-Somerset), sponsor of HB 3320, stated in a State House News Service interview on April 1 regarding late-term abortions:  “We already have women who leave the state when there are cases of a fatal fetal anomaly. That’s what we’re talking about. We are talking about a fetus that cannot survive outside the womb. We’re talking about a fetus that has no future.”

For perspective, a 24-week-old baby in the womb is a fully formed baby with a heartbeat. A 24-week-old baby can feel pain, can recognize her mother’s voice, and responds to noises and lights and things that go bump in the night. Most babies can and will survive outside the womb at 24 weeks and even as early as 22 weeks with medical assistance, and survivability rises dramatically the further along in the pregnancy.

Representative Haddad’s bill would allow these fully formed babies to be subject to an abortion — to be killed. Now, Representative Haddad claims that late-term abortions involve babies with fatal fetal anomalies — “That’s what we’re talking about,” she says.

Sounds moving, but is that what we’re really talking about? An article by two reproductive health researchers tells a very different story. The authors, writing in the December 2013 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, state that “data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment.” (The article is titled “Who Seeks Abortions at or After 20 Weeks?” The scholarly journal is published by the Guttmacher Institute, which was founded by Planned Parenthood and supports legal abortion.)

One of the authors of the article, Diana Greene Fosteran abortion supporterin September 2015 told a reporter for FactCheck.org that while hard data on the subject is elusive, fetal abnormalities don’t appear to be a major factor in late-term abortions. Here’s how the FactCheck.org reporter, David Levitan, described an email message he got from Foster:  “Based on limited research and discussions with researchers in the field, Dr. Foster believes that abortions for fetal anomaly ‘make up a small minority of later abortion’ and that those for life endangerment are even harder to characterize.”

I would point out that fetal anomaly can be anything from an irregular heartbeat to an actual fatal condition. So if this expert is right, a small percentage of late-term abortions take place because of fetal anomalies, which themselves include at least some non-fatal fetal anomalies.

So it’s clear that Representative Haddad’s claim about the supposed need for her bill isn’t correct because, according to pro-abortion research, most late-term abortions are driven by reasons other than fatal fetal anomalies. That is, most late-term abortions are performed on babies that, in fact, have good prospects for a long-term future, if allowed to continue living.

Current Massachusetts law states that after 24 weeks “no abortion may be performed except by a physician and only if it is necessary to save the life of the mother, or if a continuation of her pregnancy will impose on her a substantial risk of grave impairment of her physical or mental health.” So, current law limits abortions after 24 weeks except to save the life of the mother or where a continued pregnancy would result in increased risk of serious harm to her physical or mental health.

To be fair, Representative Haddad and the cosponsors of the ROE Act Infanticide bill do, in fact, create new specific exceptions for “… lethal fetal anomalies, or where the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus,” quoting from the bill. But as a reason for aborting, these cases are in the minority, as noted above.

What we’re really talking about are the other exceptions that Representative Haddad’s ROE Act Infanticide bill adds to allow late-term abortions. Consider the context of the brief partial quote from the bill above:

“A physician may perform an abortion when, according to the physician’s best medical judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case, the patient is beyond twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy and the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or physical or mental health, or in cases of lethal fetal anomalies, or where the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus. Medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the person’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.” (Emphasis added.)

Here, the term “grave impairment” currently in state law has been removed. “Medical judgment” is so broadly defined that practically nothing stands in the way of killing a late-term unborn baby who otherwise has a likely long-term future among us. That’s what we’re really talking about. Otherwise, simply adding fatal fetal anomalies to the current exceptions would suffice to address Representative Haddad’s concerns.

The ROE Act Infanticide bill, then, is not primarily about fatal fetal anomalies. Representative Haddad’s infanticide bill is about abortion on demand through all nine months and removing all legal protections for an unborn child.

At some point, we have to decide when a baby deserves the protection of law. The only reasonable place to draw the line is conception. Anyone who has seen an ultrasound of an eight-week baby in the womb knows that every pregnancy consists of two lives. Both deserve the rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

We aren’t there yet, and we may be a long way from it. But even in our far-from-perfect state of affairs, we should still be able to agree that limits to eminently avoidable third-trimester abortions should remain.


William J. Gillmeister is Policy and Finance Director for the Renew Massachusetts Coalition.