There was a little-known hearing this week in Congress. The major media did not cover it. But fundamental questions about science, reason, and ethics were considered.
Dr. Robin Pierucci is a neonatologist and medical director of a 50-bed neonatal intensive-care unit in Michigan. She has been caring for premature babies for over 20 years. At the hearing, Dr. Pierucci said, “It is a fallacy to equate the degree of ‘wantedness’ with a baby’s degree of ‘humanness.’” Her own views on the preborn have evolved. “I have learned that babies save us,” she said, “if we have the courage to consistently save them.” Dr. Pierucci has saved preborn children as early as twenty-two weeks. She has spoken glowingly about the personality traits of these children evident even in the early stages of growth.
I was at the hearing to listen to the testimony of medical professionals like Dr. Pierucci, who are challenging the ethical and legal contradictions within medicine. I also heard stories of abominable atrocities: women being told to squat over a toilet to birth their baby, who was then allowed to drown; newborns left for dead in soiled linen closets; and the cruel deception that abortion survivors die with “comfort care.”
To show how twisted the justification for this practice has become, several months ago, the Governor of Virginia, a pediatric neurologist, spoke calmly and publicly about what he clearly considered normal––a child being born and left to die under the guise of being comforted. Two weeks after the state of New York passed legislation repealing protections for children born alive after abortion attempts, the state passed a law banning the declawing of cats because the practice was deemed “inhumane.”
There is a bill in Congress to address this injustice. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires appropriate medical care for children who survive abortion procedures, imposes strong criminal penalties for failure to provide such care, and protects women upon whom abortions have been performed from criminal prosecution. It also protects medical providers who do not want to be part of these procedures.
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One poll shows that the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is supported by 86% of Republicans, 70% of Democrats, and 75% of Independents. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a question of human dignity. You might think there would be common ground to get something like this passed, but the bill languishes after 81 attempts to get it on the House floor for a vote.
Only six states require reporting on children who are born alive during abortion procedures. Quantifying the true extent of this practice is difficult, but it is important to note that 80% of Americans are opposed to “late-term” abortion.
When we see a homeless person on the sidewalk, we wonder what happened to them, and what can be done for them. As a nation, we have rethought our transportation and education systems to be more inclusive and accommodating. We are undertaking a massive public reflection on mental health and the opioid epidemic. These considerations reflect an awakening of our collective conscience as a nation and respect for the principle of human dignity. Yet we leave one group of persons out.
As I was driving through Saunders County near the town of Wahoo today, I saw a sign with a little child that read: “Take my hand, not my life.” Wantedness does not define humanness.