Wednesday, June 21, 2017

South Carolina, Eugenic Abortion, and the Ugly Side of Pro-Life Politics, by Sarah Connors

South Carolina, Eugenic Abortion, and the Ugly Side of Pro-Life Politics

Last month, South Carolina's legislature passed and the Governor signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,  banning late-term abortions beginning at 20 weeks post-fertilization (or 22 weeks LMP) on the basis that unborn children experience pain and that the State has "a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of unborn children from the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain."

The legislature even explained that children with fetal anomalies experience pain:  "Substantial evidence indicates that children born missing the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain."  Hydranencephaly is often labelled as a "fatal fetal abnormality" or "incompatible with life."  However, the legislature inexplicably included an exception to the late-term abortion ban in the case of "fetal anomaly," which the legislation defines as: "in reasonable medical judgment, the unborn child has a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal anomaly that, with or without the provision of life-preserving treatment, would be incompatible with sustaining life after birth."

There's no further definition of "incompatible with sustaining life after birth."  So how long would the child's predicted lifespan have to be in order to be protected?  For hydranencephaly, the oldest documented person still living is 33 years old.  So if you can live till 33 with a disorder, it's okay to kill you while you suffer pain?  Why is pain even relevant?  Those with congenital analgesia are incapable of feeling pain, but don't they have a right to life?  And what if the doctors were wrong in their diagnoses?  The statute has a reporting requirement, but no mention of autopsies to determine whether the child actually had any disorder, and no cause of action is created legislatively to permit parents to sue doctors who were wrong.  Therefore, the doctors' have no disincentive to push for an abortion.

But the passage of this law was hailed as a win for the pro-life movement.  Pro-life organizations couldn't start tossing the confetti in the air fast enough. 

Except that this isn't a pro-life law.  It's a pro-choice law with restrictions. When you write a late-term abortion law with exceptions, you are writing a law giving your blessing for late-term abortion under certain circumstances -- in essence stating there are acceptable reasons for killing babies late in pregnancy.

As I worked my way through the quagmire of comment threads on major pro-life sites and their social media pages, I contributed a few comments of my own, mainly explaining that this law was discriminatory because it failed to protect the most vulnerable.  My opinion was wholeheartedly, and sometimes vehemently, opposed by people who claimed to be pro-life.

I pointed out the reality that most late-term abortions are done to end the life of a child with fetal anomalies, so an exception for fetal anomalies would make this bill essentially useless.  I was refuted multiple times with cut-and-paste info from Wikipedia, which referenced a very flawed study done in 1987 (there was an addendum which stated the study was reexamined in 2013 and the results were similar, but the parameters were the same, so this study had just as many issues, which I will address later in this post.)

Pro-lifers are using biased research studies to bolster their arguments explaining why it's acceptable to allow certain babies to be aborted. 

We have some huge problems within the pro-life movement, and it's killing babies!

Politics has fooled people into believing that exceptions are necessary to pass pro-life laws.
Pro-life organizations and "superstar" activists have fooled people into believing you can still be pro-life and support a woman's right to choose in certain circumstances, for the sake of political expediency.

Wikipedia has fooled people into believing most women choose late-term abortion for financial and social reasons.

All of these claims are false.


There have been a number of significant pieces of state-level legislation which contain no exceptions for late-term abortions (please see footnote if you haven't already).

Alabama, Michigan, Indiana, and Wyoming are just a few states which do not have exceptions in their late-term abortion laws. (Note, link is a pro-choice resource because Americans United For Life which tracks pro-life legislation has made the decision not to track exceptions within abortion legislation.)  South Carolina did not have a fetal anomaly exception in it's Partial Birth Abortion ban.

It is simply not true that pro-life persons cannot pass late-term abortion laws without exceptions: even New York, which has some of the most permissive abortion laws in the US, does not have exception clauses in its late-term abortion cut-off (although their cut-off is a bit later than the SC bill, at 24 weeks).

This lie has been perpetuated for too long, and it's time we push back.

We don't need exceptions in abortion limitations to push them through the legislative process.

When we've come to a point where the most pro-choice state in the US recognizes the right-to-life of a late-term unborn child, yet conservative pro-life legislators in conservative states cannot persuade other politicians to support late-term abortion prohibitions without exceptions this is a problem..... we need to find new, more persuasive legislators.

The answer to the "late-term abortion dilemma" is not to continue compromising, it's to make it clear we will not elect representatives who do not take a firm stand against abortion, no matter what the circumstances.

When politicians say, "we won't get support without compromise", who do you think they are compromising with? Pro-choice legislators?

Generally speaking, pro-choice legislators will vote against virtually any pro-life law. They don't care what the parameters of the proposed legislation are.

We aren't compromising with them.

When politicians and activists talk about compromise, they are talking about compromise within the pro-life contingent. It's pro-life legislators they are having to make exceptions for, pro-life representatives who are debating the merits of these laws and their proposed exceptions.

And they're arguing the content of pro-life laws based on your potential vote. They don't want to lose you -- their pro-life constituents --  as voters.

It's time to stop this nonsense once and for all. The state has a compelling interest in protecting all of its citizens. Science has proven the humanity of the fetus at all stages of development. Unborn children are citizens, and deserving of the same protections as everyone else. There is no reason for pro-life legislators to hold out on fetal anomaly (or rape or incest) exceptions, unless their constituents have informed them of their opposition to exceptions.

The ball is in our court -- your court.

Don't blame officials you've elected for not being capable of compromise. They're only doing what you are asking them to do.

You have the power to end exceptions in laws limiting late-term abortions.

Other states have done it.

Liberal, pro-choice controlled states have done it.

You need to do it.


Pro-life organizations are wrong. Pro-life means you protect all life, without compromise.

Just because someone is a "leader" in the field doesn't mean they're right -- and oftentimes, when people become leaders they become more enamored of the politics of a movement than the
cause they're fighting for.

There are many pro-life celebrities who are more celebrity than pro-life.

As I said before, pro-life laws without exceptions can be passed. And more specifically, late term pro-life laws without exceptions can pass.

Polls show that the majority of Americans, even those who identify as pro-choice, believe there should be limitations to late-term abortions.

Go back and read that last sentence again.

Why do pro-life organizations keep pushing the idea that laws without exceptions are inevitable?

You can't claim to believe all life is equally valuable, but it's ok to kill any certain demographic for expediency 's sake.

Not only is this incredibly biased against the targeted demographic, but it gives ammunition to the pro-choice crowd. Our views regarding the humanity of a pre-born child are seen as inconsistent or emotion-based.

If our morals teach us the value of each life, and science speaks to the fact that a fetus really is a human at all stages of development, how can we codify legislation which states that it's acceptable to kill even one fetus for the benefit of the other?

This is simply a matter of viewing one person as having more value than another. Of telling one group of people: "you are not worth fighting for, because somehow you are less-than".

We are essentially saying that the right of a "typical" fetus to be carried to term overrides the right of a "defective" fetus to be carried to term.

How is this pro-life again?

This would he an equivalent argument:

"All slaves except females who have small hands will be freed. Plantation owners really wanted small-handed females to remain in bondage, because they are docile workers who follow direction well. We feared that if we didn't agree to this demand, we would lose freedom for all the males and the remaining females who have average sized hands. Sometime in the future, when the political climate is favorable to us, we will secure complete emancipation for all slaves. Until then it will be considered divisive to bring up freedom for the small-handed slaves who remain in bondage."


This Wikipedia entry on late-term abortion was repeatedly cut and pasted into comments under my arguments against this legislation.

This was a very concerning sign. We are relying on arguments which:

A) are being taken from Wikipedia, which anyone can contribute to. I could write that purple sharks like to have abortions, and it would stay until someone noticed it and took it down. Wikipedia is not a valid source of information.

B) come from pro-choice sources

C) are shared in such a way that the article itself omits relevant facts regarding how the study was conducted.

I'll explain in detail here:

The Guttmacher institute was once the research arm of Planned Parenthood. See: (1) and (2)

Most statistical information about abortion comes from them.


It's not because they are the best authority with the most intelligent researchers. It's simply because they are in the business of abortions. They have access to women immediately following a procedure, and they have the ability to request follow-ups from willing patients.

Their studies are mostly composed of women who receive abortion services at their clinics.

The problem with this is that women who terminate pregnancies for fetal anomalies generally don't go to abortion clinics. If they do use a clinic it's generally one which specializes in late-term abortions, and many of these are not affiliated with Planned Parenthood. Most go to an out-patient surgical center where their personal physician performs a D&C, or they induce pre-viability at a hospital.

The sample used for the study didn't include information from any OB/GYN offices.

It didn't include information from any hospitals. It included extremely limited information from non-Planned Parenthood clinics.

It also included women well under the 20 week mark.

In essence it didn't focus on information from women who received a diagnosis at 20 weeks, which is when most problems are found, nor did it include information from medical professionals more likely to be treating a woman whose baby was diagnosed with fetal anomalies.

The study should be titled: "Reasons a woman has a late-term abortion, excluding most fetal anomaly cases". The study isn't a study at all -- it's an exit-survey from an abortion clinic, proscribed by the parameters in which its administered: there is a very small control sample, and the control sample they have consists only of women coming from abortion clinics.

Suffice to say: if pro-choice activists didn't believe that women were primarily seeking termination of pregnancy after 19 weeks for fetal anomaly, why do they consistently use fetal anomaly as an argument against late-term abortion at virtually every turn?

They know women generally terminate late due to fetal anomalies. It's just us pro-life persons who refuse to acknowledge reality.

We are addicted to exceptions. It's a habit we need to break -- and we need to go cold turkey. There is no valid reason for laws which contain discriminatory exceptions.

We need to make the next step, and actually be the pro-life activists we are claiming to be.

It's time to let your legislators know you no longer want exceptions in your laws

Footnote: Regarding "Health of the Mother Exceptions", pro-life groups have become more savvy regarding the usage of this clause to allow virtually any abortion, and have narrowed the language in state-level bills considerably to protect pre-born children.

This, from Colorado Right to Life, explains how a life of the mother clause could, and often is, written to protect both mother and child. Occasionally there is a real concern for both mother and child -- who have an equal right to life. We do not believe "health of the mother" clauses are a discriminatory exception, under the parameters of most pro-life legislation written today, because they contain measures to help save the life of the child involved.

BIO: Sarah St. Onge is a wife, mother of 4, step-mother of 2, and pro-life blogger for Save The 1. She blogs on grief, loss, and pro-life issues pertaining to continuing a pregnancy after a lethal anomaly has been diagnosed, at