Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When "Murder" Is Legal

In another example of the confluence of bad conservative policy and cowardice, on Monday the Senate voted 46-51 against invoking cloture on debating a bill which would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  With sixty votes needed to cut off debate, the move fell nine votes short after Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania voted in favor and Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with the majority of Democrats.

The Spirit-filled, committed Christian Donald Trump strongly backed the legislation, which appears to run afoul of Roe v. Wade, and thus is unconstitutional.

Unsurprisingly, that was no obstacle to the measure commanding support of 48 (49, if Senator McCain had returned) of 51 (52 with McCain) Repub senators. The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act" is rationalized by the largely-unsupported notion that the fetus can feel pain before the third trimester and, as Rewire explains

Though the legislation made exceptions for cases of life endangerment, it excluded “psychological or emotional conditions.” Rape survivors who needed an abortion would be required to obtain counseling or medical treatment for related injuries at least 48 hours prior, and the care could not occur at an abortion clinic. And the bill ordered cases of rape and incest against a minor to have been documented with “a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse” or “a law enforcement agency.” The bill text was unclear about who would be responsible for reporting in those cases.

Even if those exceptions are met, a woman in any one of a number of states might in the future be unable to exercise her constitutional right because

the proposed law would require the abortion doctor to perform the procedure “only in the manner which … provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive” — meaning by avoiding the most common and safest form of later-term abortion. Lawmakers in a number of states have tried to ban that procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, but have been blocked from doing so by the courts.

Though the bill would provide for a prison term of up to five years for the doctor, it makes no mention of any penalty or punishment for the woman soliciting what sponsors proscribe as murder. Under terms of the proposal, if she solicits, or conspires, to commit a criminal offense, it is waived off, as appears to be the case in all 17 states which ban abortion roughly 20 weeks post-fertilization. (If there is an exception, please send link to mainstliberal@gmail.com). Nor is there a penalty for women who violate the federal government's prohibition of "partial-birth" abortion. (Self-induced abortions, much rarer, are a different matter.)

I'm not suggesting that there should be punishment for a woman who runs afoul of such a regulation, which in either circumstance is bad policy. However, with a few exceptions (such as William Saletan and Chris Matthews), the media ignores this stunning imbalance. In an analogous situation, a distraught woman would pay a hit man to kill her husband and, when the plot is uncovered after the murder is committed, she would be let off with a good, stern warning (or less).


After all the rationalizations are considered- as Saletan bravely does- there is only one reason the woman is given a pass but the doctor is prosecuted. Even many "pro-life" voters would be highly incomfortable if a would-be mother paid a penalty. If a woman is held liable for seeking and paying a murderer, the forced-birth movement withers away.  It's not hard to see, then, why she is held blameless. But it is unjustified, unjustifiable, and cowardly.

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