Earlier this week, VCA’s Vice President for Public Policy, Rita Dunaway, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, a coalition of 30 female state legislators from across the country, Concerned Women for America, and Susan B. Anthony List. The brief asks the Court to review a recent decision by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals which struck down an Arizona law that banned abortion after 20 weeks, except where the mother’s life or health is in danger.
The elected representatives of Arizona passed this law after receiving credible, unrefuted scientific and medical evidence revealing two things: that babies in the womb feel pain after 20 weeks, and that abortions performed after this same point carry much higher health risks to the mother. Nevertheless, the Ninth Circuit has interpreted the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence to mean that states can never ban abortion before the point at which the baby can survive outside the womb (generally 23 weeks). Never mind that what we are doing is torturing a living human being; never mind that the woman faces a significantly greater chance of suffering serious complications or death when she waits this late to exercise her “right.”
The Supreme Court recently acknowledged that “a fetus is a living organism while within the womb, whether or not it is viable outside the womb.” Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. at 147. Science now reveals that, far from being an impersonal blob of tissue for whom the descriptor of “living” is little more than a technical, biological fact, the post-20-week human being within the womb is so fully developed as to be wholly capable of feeling pain as his or her body is literally ripped apart and removed from the womb, piece by piece. This, of course, is how abortion is most often accomplished at this stage in pregnancy.
A humane, civilized society cannot retain its identity as such if its courts preclude lawmakers from imposing reasonable limitations on such brutality. Even animals—which most people would agree are not possessed of the same degree of individual value and dignity as humans—are entitled to and receive legal protections against cruelty and barbarism.
And what of “women’s health,” for which those who champion abortion rights express such concern? When confronted with credible scientific data demonstrating that abortions performed beyond the 20-week point are significantly less safe for women than those performed prior to that point, it is surely appropriate for legislators to protect women’s health by requiring physicians to perform the procedure at the earlier, far safer stage.
The recent tragedies of the Kermit Gosnell clinic in Philadelphia serve as a poignant reminder of how easily both individual women and the sensibilities of a humane society can become the casualty of an ideological battle.
We have become a society that worships “choice” itself; we say no one should consider what value is ultimately gained or what is lost by my choice, provided I am uninhibited and unconstrained as I choose. That, my friends, is scary stuff.
Please join us in praying that the Supreme Court will hear this case and correct this great humanitarian injustice.
Rita Dunaway, Virginia Christian Alliance Vice President for Public Policy, also writes on her blog Fundamental Things. Rita M. Dunaway graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University in 1998, having earned a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Political Science simultaneously.