Raise your hand if you think there’s something wrong with this (actual) headline:
No, the New York Abortion Law Does Not Allow ‘Any’ Late-Term Abortion
If you raised your hand because that headline is, er, misleading, you’re correct. The “Reproductive Health Act” passed by New York on the 46th “anniversary” of Roe v. Wade does exactly what that headline says it doesn’t do: Removes any and all restrictions on abortion, up to the moment of birth. Its title is so Orwellian, George probably wishes he’d come up with it himself; it’s anti-reproductive and has nothing to do with health, but it sure is an act.
Here’s what the bill says:
A health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under Title Eight of the education law, acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.
My, that sounds all professional and medical and aesthetic, doesn’t it? All that reasonableness within the “lawful scope of practice” with “good faith professional judgment,” all the concern about protecting the “patient’s life or health.” It’s when you start translating it into English that it starts to unravel.
Twenty-four weeks is the beginning of the sixth month of pregnancy. That means that now, in the state of New York, a woman has a right to abortion on demand up until her sixth month. It’s only after that point that the rest of the lack of restrictions kick in.
“Lack of?” Precisely. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the NYT and the rest of the alphabet soup of the mainstream media (such as it is) will point out, again and again, that the bill only allows for exceptions “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” There are just two teensy weensy problems with that:
– In Doe v. Bolton (Roe’s lesser-known twin sister) the Supreme Court ruled that health vis-à-vis abortion is defined as “all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient.” So “health” means whatever anyone says it means.
– There is no such thing as a danger to the woman’s life that necessitates an abortion at 24 weeks. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no.
So yes, Virginia, the New York law does “allow any late-term abortion.”
But that’s not the real problem with that headline.
The real problem is the one we don’t notice. Or at any rate, it’s not the one that jumps out at us.
But it should. And the fact that the last three words of that headline don’t, is where the real problem lies:
Late. Term. Abortion.
Magnify those words for a minute. Look at them. Think about what they really mean. And then you’ll realize that the issue here is not the headline.
There is no such thing as a late-term “abortion.” It’s an expression that was coined in order to provide a cloud cover for what it really means. “Late-term abortion” sounds very medical and pristine. Killing a baby by lethal injection and then extracting it does not.
Here’s a challenge, if you have the stomach for it: Go to the Planned Parenthood website and look for the words “baby” or “mother” on any page that talks about the actual abortion procedure. You won’t find it. Because if the word “baby” is used, mothers might actually think about what it is they’re about to do.
This is not a new strategy.
You don’t know me because I’m new here, so I’ll tell you that I am not one for cheap Nazi comparisons. But those who exploit the banality of evil on a grand scale are using the same PR tactics. To those with an ear for history, the intentionally duplicitous wording of the New York law doesn’t sound all that different from this:
…the Jews will be deployed under appropriate supervision at a suitable form of labor deployment in the East…able-bodied Jews will be brought to those regions to build roads, whereby a large number will doubtlessly be lost through natural reduction.
Historians and scholars wrestled for decades with the question of how the Nazis got away with what they did. It’s not that hard. Use words like “appropriate supervision,” “labor deployment,” and “natural reduction” often enough, and you can get millions of people so used to looking the other way they no longer see the genocide going on under their noses.
“Late-term abortion,” “partial-birth abortion,” and “post-birth abortion” are no different. They are a camouflage. They are a cynical game of semantics aimed at playing with the public psyche in order to numb it so that we won’t see the infanticide going on under our noses..
We engage in this at our peril. The banality of evil is pervasive; it gets under your skin and into your psyche even when you think otherwise. Chazal teach us that this is one of the reasons the topic of nazir comes right after the parsha of sotah. One would think that just seeing the gruesome sight of what happened to the sotah would be enough of a deterrent against adultery. But it isn’t. If you want to retain your humanity in a world of licentiousness, you can’t just shrug it off.. You have to take a stand, even if it’s between you and yourself.
Call it creeping normality, call it a slippery slope. Whatever it is, we are beyond it. Our society has crossed a very dark Rubicon into a world in which fully formed, fully sentient human beings are being stripped of the right to live simply because they are unwanted, and they happen to be too little and helpless to resist. And our lawmakers cheer.
Society is measured in large part by the way it treats its most vulnerable. I can’t think of anyone more vulnerable than an unborn baby who sustained an effort to kill it in utero and survived. New York has now withdrawn protection from those babies. Which is what “post-birth abortion” means.
The point is this: When you find yourself living in a society where legal infanticide is now a legitimate subject up for discussion, the legality is no longer the problem. The society itself is.
And if you go along with it, even just with the semantics, you risk being consumed by it.
- Dafna Breines lives with her husband and children in Beitar Illit. She specializes in geopolitics, hungry bachurim, sticker collections and repairing Clicks shtreimlach free of charge.