Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

my body, my choice

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 18, 2009

A woman in Virginia suffocated her newborn last week. Because the mother and child were still connected by the umbilicus and placenta at the time the former dispatched the latter, the act is considered no different from clipping a toenail. You go, girl!

Momma is free as the breeze:

“In the state of Virginia as long as the umbilical cord is attached and the placenta is still in the mother, if the baby comes out alive the mother can do whatever she wants to with that baby to kill it,” said Investigator Tracy Emerson. “She could shoot the baby, stab the baby. As long as it’s still attached to her in some form by umbilical cord or something it’s no crime in the state of Virginia.”

The news story attributes the authorities’ inability to prosecute the murder to a “loophole in state law.” But it isn’t a loophole. It’s a carefully crafted legal fiction whose sole purpose is to establish the unborn child as something less than human in order to permit its mother to kill it. The logic is no different from that of the D&X (Partial Birth Abortion) procedure, whereby four-fifths of the baby is delivered outside the birth canal while the skull is confined inside the cervix in order to empty its contents. Surgically.

Note that if a woman wanted to give birth to a healthy child and her obstetrician did what the murderess did in the Virginia episode or what the abortionist does in a D&X, that obstetrician would be sued if he acted through incompetence or charged with murder if he acted in malice. What makes a human person a human person, according to our law, is whether its mother wishes it to be -- at least up to such time as it's alive and kicking apart from and independently of her.

Let me put it simply. No one present at a birth and gazing at the emergent flesh -- not the nurse, not the doctor, not the recorder, not the father -- knows whether he's looking at a baby or looking at surgical waste. No one knows whether it’s a new patient, citizen, child (which he has to tend to), or whether it's a mass of superfluous tissue (which he has to dispose of). Until the arbitrary law arbitrarily kicks in, it's acey deucy: mother’s choice decides all.

Our society tolerates the gross incoherence of these legal fictions because the fictions themselves are necessary lies, necessary to the public justification of abortion. You'll notice that even the journalists find the business difficult to report without knotting themselves in contradictions. Of this case they write, "Because the mother and baby were still connected by the umbilical cord and placenta, state law does not consider the baby to be a separate life." They're saying, in short, state law does not consider the baby to be a baby.

Put that way, something looks wrong.

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