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Sebastian's Point is a weekly column written by one of our members regarding timely events or analysis of relevant ideas, which impact the Culture of Life. All regular members are invited to submit a column for publication at soss.submissions@gmail.com. Columns should be between 800 to 1300 words and comply with the high standards expected in academic writing, including proper citations of authority or assertions referred to in your column. Please see, "Submission Requirements" on our Home Page for more details.

A Case for Life: How far is too far?

Therese Hessler      06 February 2019

As the nation watches states such as New York, Rhode Island, New Mexico, and Virginia introduce legislation to legalize abortion through the moment a woman gives birth,[i] those who consider themselves pro-life, as well as those who consider themselves pro-choice, wonder, how far is too far when it comes to disregarding what science has proved to be a viable and sustainable human life?

Many wondered if such legislation would open the door to legalizing infanticide after Ralph Northam, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia voiced his support for such legislation and addressed what would happen if a woman went into labor before deciding to have an abortion stated, “The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”[ii]

The effort to expand legal access to late-term abortion is led by NARAL Pro-Choice America (NARAL), the nation’s leading advocate of abortion rights.  NARAL announced their state by state initiative in November 2018,[iii] using the threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned by new appointments within the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

As of November 2018, when the initiative was announced, nine states (CA, CT, DE, HI, ME, MD, NV, OR, and WA) had strong statues already in place preserving access to abortion regardless of any ruling by SCOTUS.  If a state has a statute already in place, abortion advocates are pushing to put language into a state’s constitution by means of an amendment to enshrine what was established in Roe v. Wade.  Approved amendments include AK, CA, FL, IA, MA, MN, MO, NJ and NM. 

Similar amendments have also been proposed in several other states including Maryland, although no bill has been formally introduced.

Maryland has long been known as one of the most liberal states within the U.S. regarding the lack of restrictions on access to abortion. Under Maryland’s Annotated Code §20–209[iv] exemptions such as allowing a practicing physician to determine a woman’s health as well as to determine the viability of her fetus allow for abortions to occur throughout all nine months of a woman’s pregnancy.

As we prepare to prevent the possibility of any bill suggesting a legislatively-referred amendment in Maryland to decide whether abortion has a place in our state constitution or not, we watch in horror as states who were once considered more conservative in their abortion policy than ours have legislative hearings that normalize and justify the killing of unborn children.

These acts, regardless of whether they work to solidify abortion into state law or a state’s constitution, threaten the value of life much more substantially than their surface layer goals of keeping abortion legal throughout all nine months. They also repeal prior legislation that aimed to protect life outside of reproductive health issues such as abortion.  Legislation such as New York’s Reproductive Health Act removes the right to prosecute for victims of domestic violence and fetal homicide further destroying protections for life.[v]

In many states, our value at the end of life has been jeopardized as well.  Groups like Compassion and Choices have fought to legalize doctor or physician-assisted suicide state by state for over 20 years and have succeeded in seven states (with legislation pending court decision in one.)  This not only has consequential effects on the elderly but also on the disabled and the terminally ill.

This further devaluation of life has also been presented four times over the past five years in Maryland and will be considered again in the 2019 General Assembly. In an attack seemingly different from the one abortion has raged on the unborn since Roe v. Wade in 1976, similar consequences are still felt throughout the rippled effects on society and the people within it.

When we allow our most vulnerable populations to be disposed of by the legalization of expanded abortion laws, assisted suicide, domestic violence, and fetal homicide, we must also realize that there are no more lines, no more so-called safeguards in place, no more boundaries.   We must realize our desensitization makes us all vulnerable and we must ask ourselves, how far is too far?

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[i] (Quinn 2019) http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-abortion-roe-wade-new-york-late-term-trumpheartbeat.html?utm_term=States%20Push%20the%20Limits%20of%20Abortion%20Rights%20and%20Restrictions&utm_campaign=Is%20Northam%20Next%20A%20Recent%20History%20of%20Governor%20Resignations&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On+Software&utm_medium=email

[ii] (Cole 2019) https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/31/politics/ralph-northam-third-trimester-abortion/index.html

[iii] https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/RealityOfRoePostcardParty.pdf

[iv] (Article – General – Health 2017), pgs. 1360-1361. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2019RS/Statute_Web/ghg/ghg.pdf

[v] https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2019/02/01/abortion-law-ny-what-reproductive-health-act-does-and-doesnt-do/2743142002/

Therese Hessler, Associate Director, Maryland Catholic Conference