Notre Dame News | February 10, 2019
In recent weeks, New York state legislators passed and its governor signed into law a bill sweeping away protections for unborn — and some born — children. New York law now allows abortions any time up until delivery for vaguely defined reasons of “health,” including social well-being. The legislators removed from law provisions that require the mother’s consent, that allow manslaughter charges against an abortionist who causes the woman’s death during an abortion, that discourage self-induced abortions and — shockingly — that require care for a child born alive during an attempted late-term abortion. [House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) introduced a resolution on Wednesday (Feb. 6) that would require babies who survive attempted abortions to receive medical care; Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also tried to seek unanimous consent for a similar law, but was defeated by the objections of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).] The New York law has been described by abortion rights advocates as an “inflection point” that will add momentum for expanded access to abortion in states such as Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico and Wisconsin.
Signed on Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the law is seen as a reaction to a potential threat to that decision in the Supreme Court as currently composed. As such, the legislative initiative follows a pattern, adopted by both left and right, that makes our political life today so toxic: When your position is challenged, adopt an even more extreme, inflexible version of it, thereby eliminating any possibility of any reasonable compromise. We see that pattern in debates about immigration, a border wall and international agreements. It recently shut down our government for 35 days.
The new legislation will no doubt deepen the wound on the body politic that is the abortion controversy. In addition to aggravating the denial of equal justice under law for the unborn, it will steal away the time, energy and goodwill we need to work together as a society to require that men support the children they father and the women who are their partners, and to strengthen families. It will distract us from efforts to provide financial, medical and emotional support for expectant mothers, and daycare, access to good schools for their children, health care and economic opportunities for them when a child is born.
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