Posted on January 30, 2024



Death Before Disability

About those women's health exceptions


Daniel Clark



When the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was first proposed in 1995, pro-abortion witnesses before Congress repeated the slogan "these are not perfect Gerber babies." In fact, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers acknowledged that the procedure was "primarily done on healthy women of healthy fetuses," but let's put that aside for the moment. The point is that an orchestrated campaign had been put into motion to justify the killing of children on the basis that they were presumably handicapped.

In that particular instance, the contention that certain human lives are not worth living did not succeed in swaying public opinion. The ban was passed twice in the 1990s, only to be vetoed both times by Bill Clinton, before being passed a third time and signed into law by George W. Bush in 2003. A more subtle form of this same argument is being made with far greater political success today, by disguising it as a women's health issue.

This past December, the national media took up the cause of a Texas woman named Kate Cox, who sued in order to be allowed an exception to that state's anti-abortion law. Good Morning America reported that Cox's life had been endangered by continuing to carry her child, who had been diagnosed with a chromosomal disorder called Trisomy 18. Had this been true, the Texas law would have allowed the abortion, as it does in any case in which a pregnancy places the mother "at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function." Neither Cox nor her activist doctor, Damla Karsan, argued that her situation fit this description.

Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how a dismemberment abortion after 20 weeks can possibly be a safe, let alone therapeutic, procedure for a woman to undergo. It only makes sense with the realization that the affliction was not hers, but her child's. Most children born with Trisomy 18 don't live longer than a year after birth, but those who do are likely to have congenital heart defects, respiratory illnesses and underdeveloped cognitive abilities, among other maladies. Of course no prospective parent wants to sign up for that, but it does not make the baby's killing a medical necessity for the mother.

An ABC News Special Report by Diane Sawyer and Rachel Scott, part of which was presented on GMA as an addendum to Cox's story, warned of the "hidden crisis" of women who were endangered by anti-abortion laws that had been passed since the repeal of Roe v. Wade. The two reporters "found" 18 women from around the country who were willing to participate in the segment, although they did not explain how they happened to come in contact with them.

As far as one could tell from the unexamined anecdotal evidence, a few of the women might have been in life-threatening situations that should have qualified for exceptions under their state laws, but the point of the segment was not that there are ambiguities in or misunderstandings about the various laws that need to be rectified. It was instead that abortion must remain legal in every situation imaginable, but especially in those that involve real or potential fetal abnormalities.

In each case, the supposed necessity of an abortion was impressed upon the viewers by emphasizing that all of these women and their husbands wanted their children. The unspoken part was, until they learned that those children were disabled. In the second installment of the three-part series, Sawyer and Scott lamented that, "Texas' abortion bans do not have exceptions for fatal fetal anomalies." Why is that so important, if women's health was supposed to be the overriding issue? And why is it that every one of these supposedly necessary abortions involves the killing of a disabled child?

If you have been following the issue, you have surely noticed that almost every news story about a legal challenge to an anti-abortion law is justified by a disability to the unborn child. In almost every case, these fetal deformities are mischaracterized as maternal health issues. Even when President Clinton issued his first veto in defense of partial-birth abortion, absurdly warning that the prohibition would "tear women to shreds," the health concerns of the five women he presented at the ceremony were that they had all been carrying handicapped children.

Insofar as there is any logic to the pro-abortion argument, if you start from the premise that "the right of a woman to do what she wants with her own body" translates into the destruction of a body that belongs to an entirely different person, then it follows that a physical or mental handicap belonging to that second person is really an injury to the woman. That might seem like a persuasive argument to the dedicated pro-abortion activist who consciously rejected the concept of truth long ago, but why do so many outwardly normal people appear willing to buy into it? Perhaps they are following in the footsteps of the March of Dimes.

Originally entitled the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, the nonprofit was dedicated to developing a vaccine for polio. Once that had been accomplished, the foundation morphed into one of the most frightening things imaginable, an organization in search of a cause. Having settled on the mission of preventing birth defects, the March of Dimes involves itself in lots of constructive initiatives, such as studying the causes of premature births, combating maternal substance abuse, and educating the public on the importance of folic acid in preventing neural tube defects like spina bifida. When it does not succeed in preventing a birth defect by preventing the defect, however, the March of Dimes will accomplish its goal by preventing the birth instead.

Although the organization vehemently denies that it advocates abortion, there is no other conclusion to draw from its promotion of amniocentesis, an invasive diagnostic test that is commonly used to determine whether an unborn child is at risk for chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome (a.k.a., Trisomy 21). There is no cure for Down syndrome, and no treatment that can begin until after the child has been born. At the time an amniocentesis is done, between 15 and 20 weeks, its only purposes are to frighten the mother, and create the expectation that she do something about it. According to the most widely accepted estimate, two thirds of all prenatal Down syndrome diagnoses in the United States end in abortion.

Rates are even higher through much of Europe. In 2017, CBS News aired a report on the fact that "few countries have come as close to eradicating Down syndrome births as Iceland." Reporter Elaine Quijano interviewed a woman named Helga Olafsdottir, a hospital "counselor" for women carrying babies with chromosomal disorders. When Quijano told her that some Americans view abortion as murder, Olafsdottir said, "We don't look at abortion as murder. We look at it as a thing we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication ... preventing suffering for the child and the family. And I think that's more right than seeing it as murder. That's so black and white. Life isn't black and white. Life is gray."

"A thing we ended." To call that gray does not begin to describe the bleakness of it. Her job is to offer scared women relief from the prospect of caring for burdensome children, while making that option palatable by portraying it as an act of mercy. It's little wonder Iceland has achieved a 99 percent death rate under those circumstances, considering the corruptive influence of "counselors" like her.

Just like everything else abortion advocates say, Olafsdottir's claim that killing Down syndrome babies in the womb prevents them from suffering is a lie. People with Down syndrome are not known to lead painful and unhappy lives. It's just that they are not "planned and wanted" children. They are not the children their parents had expected and hoped for. Or as "women's health" advocates in this country would say, "these are not perfect Gerber babies."

Must be nice to be perfect.



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