Planned Parenthood’s position is unjustifiable under any circumstances
Late last week, many Americans learned that abortion provider Planned Parenthood endorses a woman’s right to choose abortion even in post-birth circumstances. This news came to light in the course of testimony by Alisa LaPolt Snow, a lobbyist representing the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, in a committee hearing in which Florida legislators were considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion.
For those who are confused by the meaning of the phrase “right to choose abortion in post-birth circumstances,” it means simply this: If an infant whose life mother and doctor intended to terminate survives the procedure, it is up to the mother and doctor whether they will then provide life-saving care to that infant. Ms. Alisa LaPolt Snow made that position clear in the hearing.
This position, however, cannot be justified under any proper understanding of the rights at stake in the abortion question.
The reason that abortion is such a poisonous social issue is because of the direct conflict of rights. If the rights of your fist end where the rights of my chin begin, the solution is simple: swing your fist elsewhere. Problem solved. If my right to speech allows me to say things that bother you, there are a number of solutions. You can go elsewhere. You can offer alternate speech of your own. You can put in your earbuds and listen to your iPod.
No such easy solutions exist in the abortion question. There are two rights at issue: The right of the fetus to live and the right of the woman to exercise control over her own body. In the abortion question, these are mutually exclusive. Protect the right of the fetus to live and you violate the woman’s right to have decision-making power over processes taking place in her own body. Allow the woman full enjoyment of that right, and the fetus’s right to live is terminally violated.
Both of these rights are legitimate natural rights. It is very hard, then, to find middle ground. Those who side with the mother’s right to control processes taking place in her body will usually, when philosophical push comes to shove, assert that her rights trump those of the fetus because she is born, and the fetus is, as of that time, pre-born. They accord her a greater degree of “life,” and thus her rights enjoy precedence. Those who side with the fetus’s right to live will offer as justification such as these: that the fetus is voiceless and defenseless, and that the violation of his right is a terminal one, and thus should trump the non-terminal violation of the mother’s right.
The passion with which each side’s position is held is understandable. Little is more viscerally felt by humans than an understanding of and impulse to defend our natural rights. Personally, I believe that violations of the right to life, which are by definition terminal and irreversible, constitute a more serious breach, and we should do all we can as a society to find effective ways to reduce or eliminate occurrences thereof. But I certainly understand the passion that the other side feels.
With all of that as preamble, however . . .
Planned Parenthood’s position, as articulated by Alisa LaPolt Snow, simply cannot be justified.
The defense of abortion is predicated on the notion that the rights of the mother to choose to abort her gestating baby’s life trumps the right of the baby to live because she is post-birth and he is not. She is a living human being who has already been born, and as such, enjoys full communion with her natural rights. He is still gestating, and has not yet taken full ownership of his rights. Without that as the justification, the pro-choice position falls apart. It is indefensible.
But that is precisely what we have in this situation. Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept that justification as valid, it vanishes if the baby survives the abortion and is born. At that point, he is unquestionably alive and in communion with his natural rights. He no longer is the source of a “process” taking place in the woman’s body. At that point, he unquestionably has the same rights as any other living child has. If a doctor is obligated to treat a wounded eight year old who staggers in his emergency room, he is obligated to treat the survivor of a botched abortion.
It cannot even be claimed that the woman has the right to determine whether the baby is wanted or not. She didn’t want him . . . she tried to abort him . . . he lived anyway. At that point, his life isn’t hers to play with any more, nor is it the doctor’s. His life is his own.
Many of you will no doubt believe that the baby’s rights trump the mother’s rights well before this point. Others will of course disagree. But there is no reasonable argument to be made for the position of post-birth “abortion” set forth by this representative of Planned Parenthood.
And deep down, she knows it too. Her tortured and evasive answers offer telltale signs of someone who is twisting into pretzels to justify an unjustifiable postion. Her last answer in the video was especially telling. Asked “What objection could you possibly have to obligate a doctor to transport a child born alive to a hospital where it seems to me they would be most likely to be able to survive?,” Snow replies that “those situations where it is in a rural health care setting, the hospital is 45 minutes or an hour away, that’s the closest trauma center or emergency room . . . you know there’s just some logistical issues involved that we have some concerns about.”
That level of incoherence screams of trying to defend the indefensible.
Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including AnyStreet.org (now a part of Western Free Press) and Liberatchik.com. He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to WesternFreePress.com.