Jewish World Review March 26, 2001/ 2 Nissan 5761
Protecting newborns with compassion
THE bizarrely titled "Born Alive Infant Protection Act," which seems to confirm the obvious, is back. And with it, one hopes, an end to discussions that shouldn't have been necessary.
At issue is a simple question: Are babies who survive an abortion human beings deserving of protection? It was answered with a resounding "yes" last year when similar legislation passed the U.S. House (380-15). The bill stalled in the Senate, however, and now has to be reintroduced.
If approved, the proposed law will require that babies born alive be treated as, well, live babies. Talk about a given. Yet, without this law, the answer to whether newborns are human, stunningly, is: "It depends."
Specifically, it depends on the intent of the "mother," as in: Did she intend for the baby to be born alive, or did she intend for it to be dead-on-arrival as part of the abortion she was promised? Clearly, most women seeking an abortion aren't hoping for a live baby, yet miraculously, some babies do survive and therein lies the dilemma. .
Most newborns that would be protected under the bill are survivors of an "induced labor abortion," which is usually performed in the second trimester when a fetus is determined to be fatally abnormal. Unlike invasive abortions, the mother in an induced-labor abortion delivers her baby after medication causes her cervix to dilate, which can take a few hours or a few days.
"They just open the cervix and baby drops out," says Jill Stanek, a crusading, anti-abortion nurse who testified Thursday before a group of congressmen. "The intent is never to kill the baby in utero. The intent is that it will die in the birth canal or die afterward."
Stanek, who gets credit for prompting the born-alive bill, has been instrumental in publicizing the inhumane treatment of babies who survive abortion. Usually, the newborn is wrapped in a blanket and set aside to die. Some die quickly; some live for as long as eight hours, says Stanek, who works as a labor and delivery nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Without a neonatal emergency team, the baby surely will die of suffocation owing to undeveloped lungs. Otherwise the baby will die eventually of a fatal abnormality - no brain, no kidney, or something of that order.
Those supporting the procedure argue that it's the most compassionate way to end a doomed life and to minimize a mother's suffering. Stanek doesn't see it that way. More likely, she says, it's the most convenient and cost-effective way to eliminate a problem.
Of 13 induced-labor abortions at her hospital last year, four lived, she says. One was misplaced when it was left in the laundry room and fell into a hamper of dirty towels. The baby's body fell onto the floor when someone picked up one of the towels.
Inducing abortion is no more compassionate to the mother, says Stanek. First, the mother has to wait for the "birth," which becomes increasingly stressful the longer it takes. Then she has to live forever with her actions.
"At the other end of life, when people are sick, you don't just kill them, you ease them into death easily. To avoid a couple of months of grief, these women kill their handicapped child. Wouldn't it be better to give birth and hold your baby for a couple of hours? What memory do you want to live with?"
As memories go, neither is a good one. And carrying a pregnancy to term knowing that your baby will die is a tough road. But the question really comes down to this: Do we condone killing newborns? And the answer is, not
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
03/22/01: Be careful: Here comes the son
03/19/01: Student should have been allowed to draw gun ... with a pen
03/15/01: American dream lives in Havana?
03/12/01: School shootings: It isn't so much the "R"-rated movies and video games ...
02/26/01: Fathers fight paternity fraud
02/21/01: Clarence Thomas is a courageous patriot with guts to spare
02/16/01: Trapping dads
02/13/01: Oh, for the sweet strains of 'How can I help you?'
02/08/01: Age is mostly a function of attitude
01/31/01: No class
01/26/01: Let's listen to children of divorce
01/23/01: If we could read Jackson's mind during prayers for Clinton ...
01/18/01: Don't look for lesson in this tale
01/15/01: It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it
01/08/01: Middle-school fanny slap or sexual assault? You decide
12/28/00: Doesn't take village to see through this
12/26/00: Guess who's whining about Bush's Cabinet of Diversity?
12/21/00: Kiss our coarse era goodbye
12/19/00: Ready to lay to rest the past and press onward
12/13/00: Court has Supreme authority
12/06/00: Legal relief: Attorneys in Florida court are welcome shift
12/04/00: When rules become flexible, children misbehave
11/29/00: Hard to forgive Dems' divisiveness
11/23/00: The answers aren't so complicated
11/21/00: The devil -- or is it really Nurse Ratchet? -- in Mr. Gore
11/16/00:In the end, the winner may be loser
11/13/00: Eliminate popular vote -- at least in Palm Beach County
11/07/00: Lesser of 2 evils? It's more like the lesser of 2 lies
11/02/00: Latest Jones' saga exposes a big irony
10/31/00: Hate-crime legislation and anti-Bush ad are flawed
10/26/00: Taking it to the streets
10/23/00: Headlines blur fiasco of family
10/13/00: Forget polls: Bush passes turtle test
10/06/00: Feminism: A cup that's half full?
10/04/00: Election-year reality check: Abortion is here to stay
09/29/00: For Gore and Hollywood, the mirror has two faces
09/26/00: Oprahfication of presidential political: It's all about feelings
09/19/00: It's not subliminal: Hypocrisy of moral outrage is obvious
09/15/00: So wear, oh wear, are we headed?
09/11/00: Do Steinem's wedding bells sound feminist death knells?
09/08/00: Grounded in her fears about flying
08/31/00: Dudettes that don't
08/29/00: AlGore wants to be his own man -- does he know who that is?
08/21/00: Dems manufacture emotions at convention
08/17/00: Hollywood divine? AlGore is miscast
08/08/00:Outreach: Good strategy and long-run policy
08/04/00: A sharp look back at the Vietnam War
08/01/00: Bush's choice of grown-up Cheney is a stroke of genius
07/24/00: Fired up and grossed out over stupid Canadians
07/20/00: Lack of judgment --- our critical flaw
07/18/00: 'Progress' for women often a step back
07/11/00: School essay watchdogs cannibalize our children
07/06/00: Youths fear marriage --- blame boomers
06/28/00: Eminem might just have a point
06/21/00: Bridging the day-care divide
06/15/00: N.Y. baby case ends up with multiracial scrambled eggs
05/31/00: The war only time wins
05/25/00: The opposite of sex
05/18/00: World War II gave us our true heroes
05/11/00: Boy Crazy! stacks deck against guys
05/09/00: Finding out where the boys are
05/05/00: A born Ms. Leader -- Barbie for prez
04/25/00: From here to paternity
04/14/00: Boys should be boys, not viewed as criminals in training
04/11/00: Oh, for a standard of what is socially, morally acceptable
04/06/00: Womyn's Contempt for Commitment --- and the bastards it creates
04/04/00: Sue-happy American society is out of control
03/30/00: Duct-taped baby serves as warning
03/28/00: Stay-home parents know that their kids need them
03/24/00: No 'Great Expectations' when schools shun the classics
03/21/00: It's common sense to restrict Internet usage in libraries
03/17/00: You want to be just a mom? For shame!
03/14/00: Colonoscopy: Important, but bad TV
03/10/00: I made a mistake about trigger-locks
03/08/00: After this school shooting, no easy target for our contempt
03/03/00: Car crash helps bridge our divide
02/28/00: Nasty politics? Americans like it down, dirty
02/14/00: College testing via
Lego-building -- yeah, right
02/02/00: Bubba should spare us phony love theatrics
01/26/00: What sets off Those Who Speak for Women
01/13/00: Fools in love: Premarital counseling could help school kids
01/11/00: Who funds these studies!?
12/29/99: Grandparents' rights impinge on family autonomy
12/13/99: When did fathers become fair game?
12/09/99: Don't be stupid about at-risk kids
12/07/99: Pokemon is no substitute for a father
12/02/99: Blaming the victim --- men
11/30/99: Baby-killer's story has less-than-Precious ending
11/23/99: Pendulum swings back toward discipline, responsibility
11/18/99: Put the babies first in this mighty mess
11/11/99: Skip the applause for this baby news
11/09/99: Gore could benefit from a secret in Wolf's clothing
11/03/99: Who needs 'birds and bees' when we have MTV?
11/01/99: Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say
10/26/99: Children's needs must take priority in divorce system
10/19/99: The deadbeat dad is less a scoundrel than an object of pity
10/15/99: Bullying boys ... and girls
10/12/99: Divorced dads ready to wage a revolution
10/04/99: A father's best gift? His presence
09/30/99: Sorry, guys, Faludi is no friend of yours
09/28/99: Science's new findings: Scary future for families
09/23/99: The great blurring of need and want
09/21/99:Focus on more than baby's first 3 years
09/16/99: Commentary from kids sheds no light on day-care debate
09/14/99: Fathers' group seeks to right inequities
09/09/99: Son now has a license to grow up
09/07/99: A slap in the face of domestic violence
09/01/99: No, ma'am: Legislation on manners misses the mark
08/26/99: For better boys, try a little tenderness
08/24/99:The ABC's of campaign questions
08/19/99: Male 'sluts'
08/11/99: Language doesn't excuse bad behavior
08/09/99: When justice delayed is still justice
08/03/99: Unemployment? Not in this profession
07/30/99: It's not about race -- it's about crack babies
07/22/99: Tragedy tells us what's important
07/19/99: Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals
07/15/99:'Happy marriage' belongs in the
Dictionary of Oxymorons next to 'deliciously low-fat.'
07/11/99: 'Brother Man': An American demagogue in Paris
07/08/99: Only parents can fix broken families
07/06/99: America is home, sweet home
07/01/99: Tales out of Yuppiedom
06/28/99: Men aren't the only abusers
06/23/99: Is the entire country guzzling LSD punch?
06/20/99: The voice remains -- as always -- there beside me
06/16/99:Stating the obvious, a new growth industry
06/14/99: Calling for a cease-fire in the gender war
06/10/99: We owe children an apology
©1999, Tribune Media Services