Thursday, April 23, 2015

Montana Anesthesia Abortion Bill -- It's OK to Kill as Long as Your Victim Doesn't Feel Pain? by Rebecca Kiessling

About a month ago, I first heard about the Montana “Unborn Child Pain and Suffering Act,” (HB 479) which is their version of the “Pain-Capable” bill.  However, instead of banning late-term abortions based upon the premise that unborn children feel pain, this bill, as now passed by the Legislature and sent to the Governor for approval, merely requires that the mother be informed that her 20 week+ (from conception) unborn child may feel pain during the abortion and that she has the option to consent to anesthesia for the child.

Right away, I felt ill to my stomach because, as far as I’m aware, this would be the first time in American history that a precedent would be set that it’s okay to kill your innocent victim as long as he or she doesn’t feel pain, or as the bill now stands – as long as those involved in the killing are told that the victim might feel pain.  Just think of how far-reaching such a dangerous precedent could be extended:  euthanasia of special-needs children, as well as assisted suicide.  Do we mitigate first-degree murder to a lesser charge if the killer showed “compassion” by killing the victim swiftly while sedated?  Do we show leniency to rapists for drugging the victim and raping her while she’s passed out, or for using a condom?  How asinine would that be?!

For the last couple of years, I’ve been warning others that the fetal pain bills could backfire and that it is dangerous to suggest that our right to life is somehow linked to whether or not we feel pain.  In Gonzales v Carhart, the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case which upheld the Congressional ban against Partial Birth Abortion (also called “intact D&E”, the Court said that, “the Act’s prohibition only applies to the delivery of ‘a living fetus.’ 18 U. S. C. §1531(b)(1)(A) (2000 ed., Supp. IV). If the intact D&E procedure is truly necessary in some circumstances, it appears likely an injection that kills the fetus is an alternative under the Act that allows the doctor to perform the procedure.”  Because of this chilling language, I’ve often cautioned others that the same Court which suggested that you can still perform a Partial Birth Abortion as long as you provide a lethal injection first, would similarly respond to a Pain Capable Act by merely suggesting you provide anesthesia first.  And now a state legislature is actually suggesting what I feared the Supreme Court would do!
What’s even more shocking to me now is the fact that several pro-life activists have come out publicly in support of the Montana anesthesia legislation, including Eric Scheidler, Jill Stanek and Fr. Frank Pavone – all of whom do great work for the pro-life movement, but all of whom are dead wrong on this bill.  We cannot sanitize abortion.  Can you imagine rape victim advocacy groups pushing for a bill which would require rapists to drug their victims first?  It’s lunacy!
I placed a personal phone call to Priests for Life to discuss this bill, and I received a friendly voicemail message back from Dr. Anthony Vento of Priests for Life, who explained that they “support incremental legislation regardless of any exception” – which I support incremental legislation as well, as long as it’s principled with no exceptions – and that they felt that “from a standpoint of morality, it’s immoral to take rights away from a person.  It is not immoral to add rights to one.”  PFL believes that informing the mother of the option of anesthesia is adding rights to the preborn.  He further stated that they feel the bill does not give an incentive to an abortion, but that the baby should not have to feel pain.
I took a day to ponder what he said about adding rights to a person.  Again, does requiring a rapist to use the date rape drug or a condom add rights to a rape victim?  I would say not. 
Something else which came to mind is the 3/5 Compromise during the 1787 Constitutional Convention which counted slaves as 3/5 of a person for determining a state’s population for purposes of congressional representation and taxation.  That provision is still in the U.S. Constitution to this day – Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3, but was effectively nullified by the 13th Amendment which made all persons free.  Interestingly, they didn’t want the word “slave” in the Constitution, so they referred to free Persons vs. “other Persons” – slaves, who were only counted as 3/5.  In the battle to protect preborn children, it’s the opposite, where they are given a dehumanizing name – “fetus” – instead of being called “Persons.” 
This “3/5 Compromise” is a shameful part of American history.  Arguably, it “added rights” to slaves by recognizing them as “other Persons” within the Constitution, although only being counted as 3/5 for apportionment, but having them recognized as persons brought slaves nowhere closer to being free!  In fact, it ensured their enslavement more by increasing the stake of Southern slaveholders in Congress.  Seven decades later, in the Dred Scott U.S. Supreme Court decision, slaves were still not recognized even as “citizens” under the U.S. Constitution, and so, had no right to sue in Federal Court.  Likewise, in Roe v Wade, the Court pointed out that preborn children have not been recognized as “persons in the whole sense.”  Most, if not all, of the compromises involving slavery were major failures, and we can see clearly now that the North should have never compromised at all.  Can you imagine if the pro-life movement supported a compromise bill to recognize the preborn as 3/5 of a person?  That would be ludicrous!  But under PFL’s standard, it would be “adding rights.”
Dr. Vento from PFL also suggested that the Montana legislation does not provide an incentive to abort.  However, I wholeheartedly disagree.  My friend, pro-life activist Abby Johnson explains it this way:  Incremental legislation is great, but we have to be careful which incremental measures we support, and we certainly have to be careful when we make remarks praising these measures.  When I worked in the Planned Parenthood clinic, the most frequently asked question I received was, ‘Will my baby feel this?’ We would ask them how that would play into their decision. They would almost always say that they ‘wished there was a way to make it so that the baby wouldn't feel any pain before it dies.’  It wasn't that they were going to change their minds if the baby felt pain.  I personally believe, from my own experience in the clinic, that this will only ease the conscience of the woman seeking an abortion.  I'm not sure it's going to do what people think it will.”
With the anesthesia bill, I see significant parallels in the book “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry, when the character Fiona describes her experience with being trained to end the life of a baby in the manner in which the society deemed to be humane:
“I got to my assignment the next day.  The first thing I heard from my director was . . . ‘Today I will teach you to release new-children,’ she said looking straight at me.  I was shocked, did I really have that much respect already???  I had only become a nurturer yesterday, and she wanted me to release a new-child!  She put in one of my hands a small needle.  I know new-children need needles for health, but if he was being released wouldn't the people who were going to receive him have a health needle for him?  I looked around.  There seemed to be no door to some magical elsewhere that all elevens always whispered about when they thought of being released. I looked back at my director as she instructed ‘pass me the needle.’  I handed her the needle slowly, wondering what I was supposed to do.  I watched as she talked to the new-child with a soft mother-like voice.  She then said ‘this will hurt at first but in the end you won't feel any pain.’  What was that supposed to mean???   It didn't make any sense to me at the time.  Slowly she injected the needle into the new-child's head because his arm vein wasn't big enough.  He started wailing and I didn't know what to do.  I looked back to my director and she was looking at the new-child as if waiting for something to happen, and then it did.  In her arms the small new-child slowly stopped crying and then he went limp.  He was dead.  I stared in horror at my director as she placed the small body in a white box and threw it down the garbage chute.  This would be my job from now on!  Killing new-children!  They weren't even old enough to speak up for themselves!  My instructor then looked back at me and said ‘This is how people are released.  You must deal with it, and not tell anybody.’  She looked at me, her eyes held such certainty.  It was strange.”
This Montana abortion anesthesia bill is every bit as strange.  Just as the director in the Giver book was desensitized and training Fiona to be, I foresee that this legislation will actually have the net effect of doing the same and thereby increasing abortions in Montana.  In fact, I could see Montana becoming the new late-term abortion capital of the United States because the medical community and others who tend to bully women into getting late-term abortions for various reasons will be able to tell these women not to worry – that they can go to Montana to get their late-term abortions where they do them humanely.  That could become the new slogan for the late-term abortion industry in Montana! 
I understand that Fr. Pavone and others honestly believe that this measure will make people more aware of the fact that preborn children are capable of feeling pain, but an anesthesia bill merely raises the issue, then resolves it – “unborn children feel pain?  Offer anesthesia -- problem solved!”
In my research on this issue, I found an article in USA Today written by an anesthesiologist calling for “a moratorium on the use of anesthetics for lethal injection” of death row prisoners, and I was struck by the parallels:  “lethal injection created an illusion of humane, professional execution.  But the executioners are not doctors, and it's been well established that the executions themselves are not humane.”  This is the same with anesthesia abortions – they will give the illusion that late-term abortions in Montana are “humane,” although sedation doesn’t make abortion any more humane at all!  Dr. Joel Zivot points out that European pharmaceutical companies have stopped selling certain products in the U.S. because they’re being used to administer the death penalty.  If a pharmaceutical company is willing to take such a stand for convicted murderers – losing significant revenue from U.S. sales, surely we can take a better stand for pre-born children!
This brings me to a brief discussion of why many Catholic pro-life leaders are willing to compromise and to celebrate mediocrity – they improperly utilize Evangelium Vitae 73, an encyclical of Pope John Paul II on abortion, which states:  “When it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.  This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”  First of all, this provision is only limited to an elected official – not a priest, pro-life activist or voter, and it’s only to be if it’s a deciding vote.
Secondly, as I pointed out in my radio interview on the Catholic Channel with Cardinal Dolan on January 21st, in which he completely agreed, there is no way that the Pope intended this provision to allow for the discrimination of an entire class of persons.  In fact, Cardinal Dolan called it “preposterous” to suggest that EV 73 allows such discrimination.  But he even went a little further, objecting to the premise of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, quoting from an excerpt from my philosophical abortion essay:  “Does that make it okay to stab somebody in the back when they’re sleeping, because they can’t feel pain?” Then he declared, “Absolutely not -- that’s ridiculous!”

Think of children born with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, otherwise known as Congenital Analgesia.  Are they any less worthy of their right to life, just because they are incapable of feeling pain?  Do we allow abortions for them?  The only way this Montana bill could possibly be any worse is if it had such an exception, or any other exceptions such as rape and incest – not that I wish to give them any ideas!  So many of these same pro-life leaders already support Pain Capable bills with rape exceptions – as if we (children conceived in rape like me) don’t feel pain, or it’s just that we can go ahead and suffer for all they care.  As soon as you compromise on principle, you’ve already lost.  People need to understand that.

We must not support a dangerous bill like the Montana abortion anesthesia bill!  Our rights cannot be linked to whether we feel pain, and we must not placate the concerns of mothers who might not otherwise obtain an abortion because of concerns about the baby feeling pain.  I urge everyone to refrain from supporting such legislation, and move away from the whole pain argument as defining our humanity.

BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, writer and lawyer, having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back-alley abortions, but legally protected by no-exceptions Michigan law.  She’s the founder and president of Save The 1 and co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception


patti s. said...

Once we start anesthetizing, it won't stop. It will continue on and on, and more and more why? BECAUSE WE ARE TAKING AWAY THE OBJECTIONS. Making it sanitized, easy, painless, making it the "right thing". Humans can adapt to endure almost anything, but in doing so, they sometimes perpetuate incredible evil. The death of human empathy is one of the earliest and most telling signs of a culture about to fall into barbarism.

Juda said...

Excellent article. Deception seems to be epidemic. Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seems right but in the end leads to destruction was never clearer than in this bill!!!

Tom Hoefling said...

Brought to you courtesy of the "don't worry they won't feel a thing" movement.