There is an dogged ongoing effort in the United States to counteract abortion at the state level—to try to fight this terrible practice by way of statute rather than amendment—and there have been some important gains in that regard in recent years. Montana is attempting to pass one such law, a measure that would “effectively ban all abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy,” as the Associated Press reports:
Montana already outlaws late-term abortions, unless the life of the woman is at risk — but the proposal would further restrict abortion rights. It would require doctors to deliver a fetus at six months or later by inducing labor or performing a cesarean section.
Once the fetus is removed, doctors would be required to try to resuscitate the baby. Doctors who violate the law could be charged with a felony.
“They either have to be a miracle worker or a felon,” said Sen. Diane Sands, a Democrat from Missoula who opposed the bill. She added, “It’s by far the most extreme measure I’ve seen ever proposed in Montana.”
We are mostly inured to this kind horrifying antipathy to human life, but it is still, even in our jaded state, something to witness: Senator Sands apparently believes it is an “extreme measure” to abstain from killing a human life and attempt to save it instead. An extreme measure. In a country where Internet fundraisers for injured house pets regularly raise thousands upon thousands of dollars, this is where we draw the line: human life is the superfluous consideration, its protection the “extreme measure.”
But we know this is not right—all of us do, instinctively. The pro-lifers know it, sure, but likely many if not most of the pro-choicers know it, as well: those who use euphemisms like “termination of pregnancy” and “product of conception” and “right to choose;” those who hide the reality of the abortion procedure behind terms of art like “clump of cells;” the politicians who claim to believe that you can can literally kill your child in the nursery ward if you want to. Then, too, the Associated Press seems to instinctively grasp what is going on here: writer Bobby Calvan claims that “Once the fetus is removed, doctors would be required to try to resuscitate the baby.” Note that, upon birth, the “fetus” has been magically transformed into this thing called a “baby.” But birth isn’t some sort of alchemistic process of transformation; the human organism doesn’t somehow become more human—more “baby”—just by being born. A baby is a baby in or out of the uterus; killing it in either place is still murder. These conclusions are self-evident: the pro-life position is baked into the very language we use on a daily basis. The Associated Press couldn’t avoid it; their only recourse would have been to refer to the newborn infant as a “fetus,” at which point the embarrassing and brutal charade would have been exposed for what it is.
Defending precious human life is not “extreme;” it is perfectly normal and natural and healthy, the kind of thing healthy civilized societies do all the time. Comparatively savage,on the other hand, is the attempt to dehumanize and depersonalize human life, make it into something alien and un-human and ripe for killing. If we have to force our doctors to attempt to save life rather than snuff it out, so be it. But the fact that we’re having to make such a law in the first place says something terrible—about the doctors, yes, and also about a society that has given them its means and its blessings to kill innocent human beings.