© 2019 Vernon Miles Kerr, vernonmileskerr.com
There are three intellectual fictions, which must be accepted in order to avoid cognitive dissonance in supporting the concept of a “right” to abort one’s own fetus, on demand, and without the mother’s own life being endangered by a full-term pregnancy. The first fiction is that an unborn child is part of a woman’s body and therefore is in her complete purview and control. The second fiction is that a fetus’s protections under society’s homicide laws can be decided by arbitrary agreements on when a fertilized egg becomes a human being. And the third fiction is that the laws, which do indeed protect an unborn fetus from negligent or criminal homicide, should not apply when a Medical Doctor kills the fetus. We will examine each of those fictions in order.
Why should a fetus’s right to life be at the whim of the mother when a successfully delivered infant’s welfare and right to life is not within her sole purview at all? Widely enacted child-protective laws declare either parent’s right to the possession and rearing of a child as conditional, not absolute. In the U.S., both parents’ rights are conditioned upon not abusing or neglecting a child and thereby violating those laws. In all U.S. jurisdictions the child-protective laws are the sole arbiters of parental rights. Parents who break those laws are subject to being replaced by foster parents.
When child-protective laws are violated, the community’s interest in an infant supersedes the interest of the parents. The fiction that must be accepted to resolve cognitive dissonance, is that a fetus does not satisfy the legal definition of “child” or “infant” and therefore the community has no interest in its welfare. But physically — and perhaps mentally — speaking, a third-trimester fetus is identical to a delivered infant. Why should society’s interest in this individual not include its time in utero? Arbitrarily ignoring these broadly accepted child-protective laws and concepts is one way to avoid the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.
Fiction 2 . Arbitrary Agreements About When a Fertilized Egg Becomes a Human Being Should Define Culpability/or Lack of Same in Homicide Prosecutions
During the long line of cases leading to Roe v. Wade the definition of a human being, for purposes of deciding feticide cases, gradually evolved from “at conception” through various intermediate stages describing “viability to survive outside the womb” to “birth of the head” and more recently, “when a fetal heartbeat is detected.” To avoid cognitive dissonance, it has to be legal to intervene in the infant’s gestation up to, but not including, that moment defined as “birth;” therefore in some cases, the abominable, though rare, practice of partial birth abortion cannot result in homicide prosecution.
Fiction 3 . Laws that do define fetal homicide and manslaughter should not apply to Medical Doctors performing “legal abortions.”
In a majority of U.S. states, anyone else but a Medical Doctor can be prosecuted for murdering or negligently causing the death of a fetus. In other words, the same act can legally define “murder” for one class of person while totally absolving another class. Some states have attempted to avoid cognitive dissonance by specifically inserting exculpatory wording, which exempts Medical Doctors performing otherwise legal abortions from prosecution for “feticide”. The National Conference of State Legislatures (http://ncsl.org) summarizes these exculpatory laws as follows:
Currently, at least 38states have fetal homicide laws. …At least 23[of those] states have fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy (“any state of gestation,” “conception,” “fertilization” or “post-fertilization”);
Of those 38 states many specifically exempt Medical Doctors who are performing “otherwise legal” abortions from culpability. Such laws do nothing to resolve cognitive dissonance but rather increase it by bringing some or all fetuses under their protection, but then selectively nullifying themselves by exempting the medical profession when performing an abortion with the permission of the mother. Until this sorry age, murder has always been murder unless the state performed it in the form of a capital execution. Now, in our national “wisdom”, we have given the Medical Doctor the power of the executioner—actually greater power because he or she can exercise it without giving the victim the benefit of a fair trial. The death of a potential human being comes at the whim of the mother by the hand of a legally untouchable co-conspirator.
When a basic longstanding moral concept such as the prohibition against homicide can be tweaked and argued to the point of absurdity, who can respect our legislative bodies or even the rule of law itself? If there is a Supreme Being and there is an ultimate Judgment Day, America is in trouble — until we stop living in this near-psychotic state of denying reality.
To some, an unwanted pregnancy is an inconvenience. Being responsible for an infant for eighteen years would be an inconvenience. Carrying the infant to term, then putting it up for adoption would be an inconvenience. While killing a human being might be repugnant to this person, simply removing an unwanted “fetus” is not. After all — this thinking goes — the “fetus” is part of her body, and no one should dictate what she does with her own body. Removing this “fetus” is a women’s health issue and no one should be able to make arbitrary health decisions for her. It’s like passing a marble, mistakenly swallowed, out into the sewer. This type of thinking is the greatest willfully-adopted fiction of all.
Once human life is conceived it is, in reality, another body, separated by the blood-barrier at the interface between womb and placenta. As an individual, that new life logically deserves the same societal protections as does any child. To argue otherwise yields nothing but cognitive dissonance, even insanity.