Friday, April 25, 2008

How many babies died?

Pregnant Indiana Bank Teller Hurt in Robbery Loses Twins

The young mom suffered complications from the gunshot wound. One twin died in-utero. The other was born alive, then died.

She was five months pregnant -- 20 weeks, well inside the legal limit for elective abortion in every state in the union. But she also loved these babies and wanted them to live.

What was her loss here? Just the idea of motherhood? Potential children? Real children? One potential child and one real child?

To the prolifer, this woman lost two babies. The loss of each child is equally horrible, tragic, and morally significant. To the prolifer, two children lost their lives.

But how do the prochoice see this? Did this woman lose one child or two? Or none, just the potential for a child? Does the wantedness of these children impact what they were? Does where they were when they died change whether they were people or things? Is love like real estate: Location, location, location?

Really. Do tell.

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Suzanne said...

We're having this discussion in Canada. I'm curious to know what they think.

Anonymous said...

Ok. I'm pro-choice, (I'll even go so far as saying I'm pro-abortion) and I'll take your bait.

Just FYI, I have had one abortion, one early miscarriage, and I have one child. In that order.

Regarding your questions about the pregnant bank-teller:

Did she lose one child or two?

In my opinion, she lost two. She wanted her babies and was attached to them, and her loss is real and valid, regardless of how far along her pregnancy was and regardless of whether the baby died in utero or shortly after birth.

Does the wantedness of these children impact what they were?

The wantedness of the children impacts the experience of loss for the mother, I think. I'm not 100% sure of what medical definitions are - but I think at 20 weeks gestation they are still considered to be a fetus, right? So one died as a fetus and the other as a premature infant.

Does where they were when they died change whether they were people or things?

I'm not sure what you're getting at here, but it looks like a false dichotomy to me. Even a newborn, full-term baby doesn't have full rights of personhood, does it? But that doesn't make it a thing. So, by a medical definition, the one that died in utero was a fetus, and the one that died after birth was an infant. Neither one was a "thing." (But maybe you think that we pro-choicers think that an embryo or a fetus is a "thing."?)

Is love like real estate: location, location, location?

I don't understand this question.

Christina Dunigan said...

First of all, thanks, bottlecap, for your thoughtful response.

Medically the baby is a fetus right until it's outside the mother, at which point it becomes a neonate. Some prochoice folk take this terminology to mean that the baby isn't "human" or "a person" or anything other than a blob of totally worthless tissue up until it emerges. Some take it a step further and say that if the woman intended an abortion, the baby remains "a fetus" even after it emerges, and should be sent to the pathology lab regardless of viability, signs of life, or chances of survival given care. Barak Obama is one of them. Hillary Clinton isn't. For her, the cut-off is 500 grams regardless of wantedness. So for her, if a 501-gram baby is born alive during an abortion, it's a preemie and entitled to the same care as any other 501-gram preemie. If a loved and wanted child is born weighing 499 grams, it's a stillbirth regardless of how vigorously the baby in question is fighting for survival.

As for "location, location, location", as you can see from the existence of D&X (or "Partial Birth Abortion"). The abortion is initiated at some point past 20 weeks -- up to 32 weeks, two full months into the third trimester, if you're Martin Haskell, the guy who popularized the procedure. As long as the baby is dead before it emerges, it's an abortion. If old Doc Haskell crushes the little skull after it comes out, he's committed murder. Location, location, location, since the only difference between the baby before it emerges and the baby after it emerges is location. And there's a significant contingent of prochoice who hold that location is everything. If you kill it before it emerges, you're helping a woman exercise her Constitutional right to control her body. If you want ten seconds and wring its neck with your bare hands, you're a murderer. This was seen in the Edelin case in New York, in which Dr. Kenneth Edelin performed a third-trimester hysterotomy abortion -- waht would be alled a c-section if a live birth was intended. The murder trial hinged not on whether or not the baby had drawn a breath before Edelin killed it, but whether he kept it within the uterus until the placenta was separated and the baby gave up the ghost.