Author: ADF Blackstone Fellow Christopher S. Brownwell
With the filing of a lawsuit in the baby Shanice case, the issue of babies born alive after an attempted abortion is once again in the spotlight. In 2006, 18-year-old Sycloria Williams determined that she didn’t have the resources or the maturity to rear a child. After she scheduled the abortion, Williams was given medication to dilate her cervix. She arrived at the clinic the next day. When the doctor failed to show up, Williams delivered a baby girl. At that point, her attorney said, "She came face to face with a human being, and that changed everything."
Williams named her baby girl Shanice. I hope that if everyone who favors abortion comes face to face with a baby Shanice shortly after an attempted abortion, their opinion on abortion would change. Although hopeful, I am not naïve. I know that sin exists and resides in the hearts of people.
What happened next is unforgivable. According to the lawsuit, a clinic worker, not licensed to practice medicine, knocked the baby onto the floor, cut the child’s unclamped umbilical cord, allowing the baby to bleed out. The clinic worker tossed the baby, placenta, and everything else into a biohazard bag and threw it out. An autopsy revealed little Shanice had filled her lungs with air, evidence that she was born alive.
This scenario happens more often than pro-abortion supporters would like to admit. In April 2005, it happened to Angele Taylor in Orlando, Florida. Clinic workers at the misleadingly named Every Person’s Own Choice abortion clinic ignored Angele Taylor’s pleas for help after her son Rowan was born alive. After she saw her son struggling for life, she made a choice to save her son. Unfortunately, Every Person’s Own Choice clinic guarantees a dead baby every time someone buys an abortion. “Every Person’s Own Choice” apparently does not include Angele’s choice.
Taking a page from the Holocaust deniers, blogger Jane Hamsher categorically denies that babies are killed after having survived abortions. In a debate with Mona Charen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Hamsher insisted that babies being left to die in hospital linen closets is a ridiculous right-wing fantasy. She matter-of-factly contends, “There’s no baby born that they try to kill. That’s ridiculous.”
In parsing words as abortion advocates so like to do, she is technically correct, at least in most cases. I guess tossing a crying newborn infant into a bucket and placing him, unattended, in a linen closet for hours until his crying stops is more “allowing the child to die” rather than “trying to kill” him. After all, it’s not like they partially delivered the baby, jammed scissors in its skull, and removed the child’s brain. In the end, through omission or commission, there is still a dead baby.
We are constantly subjected to bromides and trite arguments that good people disagree on this issue. Saying “good people disagree on abortion” is meant to keep the debate civilized. Meanwhile, children are butchered by doctors with their mothers’ permission or left to die in a linen closet while we have our civilized debate.
Now, I prefer debates that produce more light than heat. The trouble with debating so many of those who support abortion is that they try to turn the lights out. They will categorically deny facts, like Hamsher does, or throw out strawmen like, “You just want to suppress women.” Hamsher refused to acknowledge the fact, when Charen pointed it out, that when people are given the specifics, support for abortion drops. But, Hamsher would rather have the debate in the dark.
An honest debate is nearly impossible when one side refuses to debate honestly. While we are at it, we should be honest, too. Good people do not simply disagree on the issue of abortion. Good people come face to face with a human infant, and that changes everything.
Christopher S. Brownwell is an Alliance Defense Fund Blackstone Fellow (2002) currently serving in the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps. His column received third place in the 2010 ADF “Blackstone Op-ed Quest.” The opinions expressed here belong solely to the author.