Friday, June 25, 2010

Saving Preemies

In Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, Missouri had the following statute: "Any physician or person assisting in the abortion who shall fail to take such measures to encourage or to sustain the life of the child, and the death of the child results, shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter."

This is 1976, just a few years after Roe, and it gives the Court the opportunity to really enforce the viability doctrine. What would it be like if you enforced this statute? The doctor would have to make best efforts to keep the baby alive. He could remove the baby and put her in an incubator. If the baby died, okay, as long as the doctor was making good faith efforts to save her life.

Yet the Supreme Court objected to this statute, on the grounds that it does not distinguish viable from non-viable infants. The Court said this is impermissible under Roe. Well, how do you know who is viable, who can survive, if doctors do not actually try to keep the baby alive?

According to the Court, medical doctors are certain that a baby at week 24 would not survive in an incubator. And yet people surprise us all the time. Is it not good medical ethics to wait for somebody to die before you start ripping their body apart?

As the partial-birth abortion opinions make clear, the doctors in these cases make no attempt to keep any of these babies alive. Well, why not? I mean, the D&X abortion procedure involves taking the baby out of the womb anyway. By doing so, the pregnancy is terminated. It's over. It's aborted. The woman is free of her unborn child. So, if you are a doctor who swears an Oath to keep people alive, why would you not make an effort to keep that baby alive?

You don't actually have to kill the kid. Since abortionists can and do remove babies from the womb, why not have a doctor--a real doctor, with medical skill, who's practice involves saving lives rather than destroying them--why not have a doctor actually make the attempt to transfer the baby to an incubator? Is this so unthinkable?

Viability is a hypothetical scenario, describing the baby's "potential" for survival. But of course a baby's survival depends heavily on the attitudes of the people in the room who surround her. Blackmun's technical definition of viability requires that the people in the room actually want the baby to survive, and that they have the equipment to help her. But where in all the Supreme Court caselaw is the abortionist who wants the baby to survive?

Even if you have a nice guy abortionist, who realizes that the baby is viable, what's he going to do? He's got a preemie without an incubator. I guess he wraps him in a blankie. Do abortionists have blankies?

It's almost as if Supreme Court caselaw is designed for unwanted babies to die.

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