by Susan E. Wills
April 25, 2003
We recently learned the fate of Connor Peterson after his body, umbilical cord still attached, washed up on a rocky shoreline of San Francisco Bay, near his mother Laci's remains.
Any normal person would feel profound sadness at this grim news. No joy, no lifetime of promise that every newborn child brings into the world; Connor's relatives are left with heartache.
Any normal person would shudder at the evil that drove their killer to commit such a monstrous act. Any normal person would agree that the double murder charges brought by prosecutors are justified under California law, which defines murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought."
But those who work for the abortion industry react differently to such events. Human feelings are kept in check, while any event or policy that concerns a child before or near birth is minutely scrutinized for its potential to "undermine Roe v. Wade." Anything that threatens the shaky "constitutionality" of Roe must be stopped!
Better to pretend Connor's death was a non-event, reasoned the New Jersey chapter president of NOW who reacted indignantly to the double-murder charge: "If this is murder," she said, "well, then any time a late-term fetus is aborted, they could call it murder."
Some dismissed her remark as a public relations gaffe. Former NOW President Patricia Ireland flung herself into rapid-response damage control mode. Ultimately, a spokeswoman for NOW discretely refused to explain NOW's position on fetal homicide laws in over 24 states, "out of respect for Laci Peterson."
Here's what abortion advocacy groups think of such laws, including a federal bill to punish violent attacks on unborn children and their mothers: "[Legislation] that threatens a woman's right to choose is already moving through Congress. ... [The] Unborn Victims of Violence Act is at the top of the agenda and is designed to chip away at the constitutional rights of women" (NARAL fundraising letter).
NARAL similarly criticized The Born Alive Infants Protection Act as "another anti-choice assault" on "the basic tenets of Roe v. Wade." The Act simply requires that infants who survive abortion attempts be given the same care as other newborns.
Two years ago a federal appeals court ruled that, under Roe v. Wade, unborn children of illegal immigrants had no legal right to prenatal care through Medicaid, even though they'll be entitled to benefits as soon as they're born. Legal Aid lawyers dithered over appealing the decision, "in part because of the danger that such an appeal could allow the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade." Better to endanger a child's life by denying prenatal care than to put Roe in danger of reconsideration!
When the Bush Administration expanded eligibility under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) to include children from conception onward, abortion advocates were incensed. They called it "a transparent and cynical effort to continue eroding women's constitutional protections" (Kim Gandy, NOW), and "a guerilla attack on abortion rights" that was "devious and dangerous" (Bob Herbert, N.Y. Times).
We've rightly objected to the distinction abortion groups draw between "wanted" and "unwanted" unborn children, the former being babies, the latter nonentities. Today, their policy is becoming more philosophically consistent, but it's careening ever further from reality, justice and truth. Today the "wanted" child needing protection, assistance and healthcare is dismissed as a nonentity as well. Is there no bottom to Roe's slippery slope?
Susan Wills is associate director for education, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.