Activist Defends Late-Term Abortions: “Dismembering a Fetus” is Not “Barbaric”

Opinion   |   Dave Andrusko   |   Jun 13, 2017   |   6:02PM   |   Washington, DC

Sherry F. Colb is a veteran anti-life activist whose name comes up periodically in the most dreadful situations. The last time we wrote about her was through a column by Wesley J. Smith in which Wesley accurately described a piece she’d written for Newsweek as “using the Zika tragedy to promote infanticide.”

Colb wrote (in “Is Terminating a Late-Term Zika Fetus Euthanasia”),

”As a moral matter, some might want to argue that the lives of infants may be so compromised by defects, as would be the case for many of these babies, that killing them painlessly at birth would be a kindness rather than a harm.

“At this point in time, though, laws in the U.S. do not recognize euthanasia as a legitimate approach to an infant (or an adult) whose life might not be considered worthwhile, due to impairments or pain or some other index of value….

“. . . the issue of euthanasia nonetheless lurks and beckons to us to answer the question: might some lives be better off ended than permitted to continue, given what is in store for them? The woman who terminates at 32 weeks for Zika-caused birth defects may thus have indirectly made a case for euthanasia, while allowing us to pretend that what she has had was just another abortion.”

Recently the Cornell University Law Professor wrote “Texas House Approves a Doomed Abortion Law: Why?” that is far less interesting for what she advocates than for what she concedes.

We won’t spend a lot of time disagreeing. Her analysis of Texas’ ban on dismemberment abortions (which has since become law) in my opinion misreads the implications of the 2007 Gonzales decision which upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion to the ban on dismemberment abortions.

Dismemberment abortions use steel tools to tear apart a well-developed unborn child by brute force, violence that is breathtakingly brutal. Pro-abortionists rarely–rarely–concede what is obvious to any morally sentient human being: this is beyond the pale.

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What does Colb say? To her credit

The method of abortion at issue in the Texas statute is not for the faint of heart. It involves dismembering the fetus while it is still in the woman’s womb and removing its parts, piece by piece, through the birth canal. One Texas legislator described the procedure as drawing and quartering, an old (and torturous) method of execution.

I’ll be honest. I never ever expected to read such honesty from an abortion supporter. She goes further

The notion, accepted by the Court, that D&X [partial-birth abortion] is uniquely barbaric was questionable, to be sure. It is not obvious that dismembering a fetus after removal from the womb is more barbaric or terrible than dismembering it inside the womb and then removing its parts. Both methods are stomach turning and would likely upset people learning that they had undergone either one.

But then Colb confidently asserts that were such a law ever to make it to the Supreme Court, the justices would consider this a bridge too far. However she then concedes, “Though there are likely not currently the votes to uphold a ban on the D&E method of abortion in the Supreme Court, this may change if another Supreme Court vacancy arises during Trump’s time in office.”

Colb has her own reading of what “motivates” legislators to pass a law like the ban on dismemberment abortions. The only one I believe actually holds water is “the point may be to communicate the legislature’s strong disapproval of abortion (or at least of second-trimester abortion) and, more specifically, to convey to the public the grotesque reality that is a second-trimester abortion, in which fetuses are dismembered (whether inside the womb or outside, as in a D&X).”

This is called education, what we oldsters used to call consciousness raising. We have written many times how the long debate over partial-birth abortion altered the axis of public opinion. So, too, could bans on an abortion “technique” that uses sharp metal clamps and scissors to crush, tear and pulverize living unborn human beings, to rip heads and legs off of tiny torsos until the defenseless child bleeds to death.

Colb ends her piece with a self-serving distinction about when it is “appropriate” or “legitimate” for ”legislators to use legislation as a means of communicating a message when it is clear that the law will not survive judicial scrutiny. ”

Let’s skip for the moment that she begs the question: it isn’t at all “clear” this ban will “not survive judicial scrutiny.” That aside, for Colb it’s less annoying if it doesn’t make any difference.

In other words if the legislation is likely to be in effect for some period of time before being gutted by a court, it’s “illegitimate.” But if “there will be no lag time between passage of the law and its invalidation,” then Colb has less problem with legislators “speaking/communicating” through the passage of laws.

Mighty generous of her.

I’ll end with this. As always, if the shoe were on the other foot–as it was back in the 1960s when pro-abortionists were attempting to pass laws to loosen (and then obliterate) protective state statutes–would Prof. Colb have argued that it was not “appropriate” or “legitimate” to pass laws that “clearly” were unconstitutional?

Of course not. Note: Dave Andrusko is the editor of National Right to Life News and an author and editor of several books on abortion topics. This post originally appeared in at National Right to Life News Today —- an online column on pro-life issues.