Across the United States, state lawmakers are pushing for looser abortion laws, going as far as to propose bills that permit abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy in specific situations. If these pieces of legislation become laws, the US’s abortion policies would much more closely resemble those in parts of China where there are no restrictions on abortion.There, no human rights for the unborn child are recognized – even minutes before he or she exits the birth canal. But that is not a surprise since that nation’s human rights record in other categories is abysmal.
In New York, the pro-abortion lobby cheered as the One World Trade Center was lit pink upon the state passing a law in January that would allow abortions until the baby’s due date in certain circumstances. While the proposed legislation stipulates that abortions after 24 weeks can only be performed if “there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health” based on “reasonable and good faith professional judgment,” this still leaves the life of the unborn child up to the discretion of health care practitioners who may have varying interpretations of what it means to protect a patient’s health.
What’s more the Supreme Court case Doe v. Bolton, a 1973 case that ruled Georgia’s requirements for seeking an abortion were too stringent, created a precedent of leniency, listing a broad range of factors that could be considered relevant to a pregnant woman’s health – physical, emotional psychological and familial reasons, or the mother’s age.
So zealous were pro-abortion politicians to deregulate the procedure that New York’s Reproductive Health Act also stripped from the penal code consequences for causing a forced abortion, or an abortion that is forcibly conducted outside of the traditional medical means. This removes the charges for a forced abortion resulting from someone who physically harms a pregnant woman, causing the death of her baby. While this doesn’t mean that abusers in the latter case would face less jail time (as the sentence for harming the mother tends to be longer than that for a forced abortion), it does make a statement about the value the law places on the life of the unborn child.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Democratic Delegate Kathy Tran sparked outrage from some in January when she pushed an ultimately unsuccessful bill that would have removed existing safeguards on late-term abortion, making abortion up until birth easier to obtain. Instead of requiring three physicians to certify that the mother’s life or health would be substantially and irremediably damaged before having a third-trimester abortion, Tran’s bill would have required only one.
This would have eliminated any second opinions or alternative perspectives on what constitutes a threat to a mother’s health. Even for minor procedures we often get second opinions before we make decisions. Why would we even consider removing that necessary step for a procedure as final and irretrievable as an abortion?
New Mexico, already referred to by many anti-abortion advocates as the “late-term abortion capital” of the country, recently passed a bill in the House that decriminalizes abortion at the state level. And more than half the members of the Rhode Island House co-sponsored legislation introduced in January that would allow abortion up until the point of fetal viability unless the mother’s health is in jeopardy or there are other health exceptions. This would make abortion legal under Rhode Island law in the event that Roe V. Wade is overturned. The bill also would permit the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure.
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If these bills in New York, Virginia, New Mexico and Rhode Island are representative of where the United States is heading, we will soon find ourselves wandering further down a road of wrongdoing, deceptively called “reproductive rights.” We need to push back on this – and that starts by keeping the legal safeguards against any late-term abortions in place.