It is a betrayal of everything that liberals have stood for.
Liberals themselves will be astonished to read this, but they only need to read Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, to understand why the “Reproductive Health Act” (Introduced as HB2495 in the Illinois Legislature) would fatally wound the decision’s protections of the fetus in the third trimester.
HB2495 is a raw betrayal of everything that liberals used to stand for. Throughout American history, liberals always stood for expansion of the definition of a person and a person’s rights. Liberals were abolitionists who fought (literally) to define a slave fully as a person. Liberals fought for the same recognition for women and their right to vote. Liberals fought to replace Jim Crow with full legal protections in public accommodations, education, voting and all civil rights for African Americans. Liberals fought for laws give the disabled full access to their potential. Liberals fought for the LGBT+ community, providing equal rights in marriage.
Let’s do the analysis. HB2495, sponsored by Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy (D-Chicago), declares that
…a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the law, of this State.
That is a heads-on challenge to Roe, which states unequivocally that government has an interest in protecting the fetus in the third trimester and thus can regulate late term abortions.
The third reason is the State’s interest — some phrase it in terms of duty — in protecting prenatal life. Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of conception. [Footnote 45] The State’s interest and general obligation to protect life then extends, it is argued, to prenatal life. Only when the life of the pregnant mother herself is at stake, balanced against the life she carries within her, should the interest of the embryo or fetus not prevail. Logically, of course, a legitimate state interest in this area need not stand or fall on acceptance of the belief that life begins at conception or at some other point prior to live birth. In assessing the State’s interest, recognition may be given to the less rigid claim that as long as at least potential life is involved, the State may assert interests beyond the protection of the pregnant woman alone. [My emphasis]
A person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception. [My emphasis.].
Now, compare that to the language of HB2495:
Provides that every individual has a fundamental right to make autonomous decisions about one’s own reproductive health. Provides that every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion, and to make autonomous decisions about how to exercise that right. Provides that a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the law, of this State.
Allow me to summarize. Roe clearly grants the fetus independent status, whose interests may be weighed in the third trimester. Call it a “right” if you wish; I won’t quibble over terminology.
Here’s the irony: When pro-life advocates have argued that Roe and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton are extreme because they allow abortion up to the moment of birth (or bey0nd), pro-choice advocates try to deny it. It’s a rhetorical effort to show that they are not so extreme that they would allow abortions for any reason at any time. (In fact Doe defines a woman’s health as a justification for a late-term abortion so loosely that it really means for any reason at all.)
HB2495 puts the lie to the pro-choice rhetoric that, “Oh now, we’re aren’t so cruel, so brutal, that we would allow an abortion of a fully developed fetus for any reason, or that we would allow a born-alive baby that was supposed to be aborted die unattended in a linen closet.” HB249 now reveals the deception in all its inhumanity.
In legally defining a fetus/unborn baby as devoid of any right, including a right to life, at any stage in pregnancy, liberals have gone further. They reversed their tradition of fighting for the rights of all; they have joined those who would limit the definition personhood. They would make dependence (of the fetus/unborn baby) the touchstone of personhood.
That is a dangerous path. It’s why I used to be a liberal, but no more.
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