Civil rights in America begin when, exactly?
At conception? On the last day of the second trimester? At birth?
Or, is it when you take the baby home from the hospital, as Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., once said.
Although Boxer says she was taken out of context, it’s important to prove she wasn’t. Her thought process represents the modern perversion of those so invested in the American politics of abortion that they have lost their way on the far more important moral question of what it means to extend dignity to every human being.
Washington Post columnist George Will exposed Boxer’s thinking when he wrote about this Q&A on C-SPAN on Oct. 20, 1999. It was a debate on partial-birth abortion, in which a baby is delivered feet first. The baby’s head is left inside the woman, at which time the doctor punctures the skull and delivers the baby dead.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., asked Boxer what happens should the baby inadvertently slip out during the abortion. “You agree, once a child is born, is separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed? Do you agree with that?”
Sen. Boxer: “I think when you bring your baby home, when your baby is born … the baby belongs to your family and has all the rights.”
Sen. Santorum: “Obviously, you don’t mean they have to take the baby out of the hospital for it to be protected by the Constitution. Once the baby is separated from the mother, you would agree — completely separated from the mother — you would agree that the baby is entitled to constitutional protection?”
Sen. Boxer: “I don’t want to engage in this.”
You can see why she ducks the question. Deep down, she articulates the logical extension of a pro-choice agenda stuck in the last century. That’s why the Barbara Boxers of the American left don’t want attention drawn to cases like that of Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia.
If people focused on Dr. Gosnell, they would see the crazy horror of American abortion policy as codified by the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling. That ruling figuratively and literally splits babies in a vain attempt to avoid the obvious — abortion kills, whether it is in the last week or the first week of pregnancy. You can call it a fetus or, as the court said, “potential life.” But no matter what euphemisms we might use to soothe our conscience, simple science and staggering medical advances over the past 40 years render it all vanity.
Dr. Gosnell is charged with the murder of viable children (the legal standard is 24.5 weeks in Pennsylvania) born during abortion. He beheaded them with scissors. Some screamed, according to witnesses.
The grand jury report states: “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. … He regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels — and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.”
The grand jury report also notes that Dr. Gosnell kept in his office 20 to 30 jars filled with the feet of the aborted. That Mengele-esque detail aside, Dr. Gosnell’s story should spark questions about the difference between a 25-week-old “baby” and a 24-week-old “fetus.”
Medically, the answer is nothing, and the intellectually honest know it.
The argument for abortion in the new millennium has become the argument for politically correct infanticide. Not the “bad” kind of infanticide that selects for gender or against ethnicity, but the “good” kind of American infanticide that selects against the young for the sole convenience of the old.
That’s the inconvenient truth. Pay no attention to those jars filled with baby feet.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and a member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame, writes a column for Stephens Media. Read his blog at www.reviewjournal.com/columns-blogs/sherman-frederick.