Socially Acceptable Infanticide: Abortionists Who Oppose the Right to Life

It should be no surprise that an organization interested in individual liberty and private property is more fundamentally concerned with life. The three are inseparably and inherently connected; a person cannot fully enjoy one without the others.

We are shocked and appalled to read some of the details from the grand jury report of the case against Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a 72 year old doctor who ran two lucrative abortion practices. He is accused of seven counts of first-degree murder, and is standing trial in a courtroom with very little media attention.

The gruesome details contained in that report bring to light years of alleged abuse, late-term abortions, and the killing of babies who were born alive and healthy, contrary to the wishes of their mothers. We will spare our readers the explicit content contained in the report. Suffice it to say that the alleged actions are heinous beyond any sense of human decency. If the accusations are proven accurate in court, then we do not hesitate to consider Gosnell a monster and murderer.

For all the brewing outrage in this case, it should be noted that the issues in play have more application than Gosnell alone. Indeed, the entire abortion system and its cheerleaders are implicated by Gosnell’s abortion scheme.

Consider the following question: if it is morally wrong to kill an infant two minutes after it is born, does doing so two minutes before it is born change anything? Though late term abortions are rare and outlawed in many places, the arguments used by the “pro-choice” side to justify their support of abortion must necessarily justify any pre-birth abortion, regardless of how far into the pregnancy mother and baby are. If it’s a woman’s right to choose whether or not her child lives, then there exists no natural threshold which changes that, other than (for whatever reason) birth.

And yet that threshold is not enough for some. Last year, the Journal of Medical Ethics published a paper whose author carried the abortion arguments to their full conclusion, namely, that a mother’s (supposed) “right to choose” is not diminished by the act of birth. The paper’s abstract highlights this horrendous position:

Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

The journal’s editor published a response afterwards, observing that the arguments used in this paper “are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world…” As if that’s supposed to reassure us.

Lest people think that these are fringe ideas held by demonic doctors and random ethicists, more evidence can be offered. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States of America (and receives significant taxpayer subsidies for its activities). In Florida, a woman named Alisa LaPolt Snow, representing the organization in that state, testified against a bill that would require abortionists to provide medical care to babies who survive attempted abortions. The following interaction occurred between a legislator and Ms. Snow:

Legislator: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

Snow: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.”

A minute later she reaffirmed that the decision about whether or not to end the life of an individual (a baby who survived a botched abortion) “should be between the patient and the health-care provider.” Put in plain English, she publicly stated that in the view of abortionists at Planned Parenthood, a mother should be able to kill her child after he or she is born alive.

A radical notion to be sure. But if it’s okay to kill a developing child five months before its birth, then why not three? Or one? And if these pre-birth abortions are somehow morally justified, then why does the simple act of passing through the mother’s birth canal somehow change the circumstances enough to completely reverse the morality of the act? It cannot be held true that a child has no right to life one minute prior to birth, and that suddenly we must protect a human being at all costs who only seconds ago was able to be put to death with little concern or outcry.

Of course, because birth alone does not grant a baby its individual rights, the abortionists are beginning to recognize that their arguments must logically apply to babies who survive a botched abortion, or who are welcomed with open arms by their mother who may change her mind weeks or months later and want to dispose of the dependent she no longer wishes to care for.

While they are correct that birth does not reverse the morality of the act, they are wrong to assert that the act of abortion itself is at all moral. A child has the right to life as much before its birth than it does after, and only in certain circumstances can that right be justifiably violated, just as it is acceptable to end an aggressor’s life in the course of defending your own.

In the end, Americans must come to terms with their culture of death, whether it be drones dropping bombs on innocent people half a world away, militarized police officers killing people over a plant they grew, or mothers turning their wombs into tombs. We cannot have a serious conversation about increasing liberty in our own lives without first demanding, at a very minimum, that the lives of these innocents be protected as much as our own.