“It is shameful and disgraceful that this measure should be before Congress” – U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal
Even on a contentious issue such as abortion, it may be possible for people to draw proper distinctions between health care and abortion. Those who confuse the two ought to be asked to furnish four instances in which an abortion not performed to save the physical life of a mother improves the “health care” of the mother. Abortions performed after 20 weeks of a pregnancy -- the point at which, scientists tell us, the fetus feels pain -- certainly do nothing to improve the heath care of an aborted baby.
Some argue that the fetus is not a person until it emerges from the womb and is wanted by the mother. But personhood is a legal not a scientific term, and legal terms are decided by legislators and lawyers and judges. In 1857, the highest court in the land decided that Dred Scott, a slave who had resided in a Free State and territory where slavery was prohibited, was not a person in the eyes of the law but the property of his owner. There are only two kinds of law: those affecting persons and those affecting property. The question whether a slave was a person, Blumenthal might agree, was by no means settled in 1857. The question the court decided in 1857 was definitively settled, oceans of spilled blood later, by the sword.
Today, Planned Parenthood argues that the fetus, at all stages of a pregnancy, is the property of the woman in whose body it resides. A woman who wishes to give birth to a fetus beyond the third trimester commonly – and correctly -- refers to her baby as “my baby.” Planned Parenthood and Blumenthal, not unfriendly to restrictions when he was Attorney General in Connecticut, may wish to abort all restrictions touching abortion. We ought not to wonder at this: abortion is, for Planned Parenthood, a profitable enterprise. However, neither Planned Parenthood nor Blumenthal, its white-hatted defender in the Senate, owns the English language, and long after the issue whether a fetus feels pain after 20 weeks is settled – hopefully by science rather than the sword – pregnant mothers will continue to refer to the fruit of their wombs as babies.
A hundred years ago, G. K. Chesterton remarked, “What is quaintly called Birth Control… is in fact, of course, a scheme for preventing birth in order to escape control.”
Chesterton considered language important; distortions in the social sphere usually begin with a gross distortion of language. That is the central message of George Orwell in “1984.” Chesterton did not stop there. He thought the pro–abortionists of his day were excessively sentimental. “We can always convict such people of sentimentalism by their weakness for euphemism. The phrase they use is always softened and suited for journalistic appeals. They talk of free love when they mean something quite different, better defined as free lust. But being sentimentalists they feel bound to simper and coo over the word ‘love.’ They insist on talking about Birth Control when they mean less birth and no control. We could smash them to atoms, if we could be as indecent in our language as they are immoral in their conclusions.”
Chesterton’s attack on abortion was an off-shoot of his attack on eugenics. When challenged, people less energetic than Chesterton produce arguments. Chesterton produced books. Some people consider Chesterton’s book “Eugenics and Other Evils,” to be prophetic.
Eugenics and abortion were then, and are now, intimately connected. Margaret Sanger, the secular deity behind Planned Parenthood, was a member of the American Eugenics Society AND the editor of the Birth Control Review. Her guiding faith was displayed prominently on the cover of the Birth Control Review: “More Children for the Fit. Less for the Unfit.” The unfit were “Hebrews, Slavs, Catholics, and Negroes.” She set up her Birth Control clinics only in the neighborhoods of those to be eliminated. She thought such people should apply for official permission to have babies “as immigrants have to apply for visas.”
It’s quite understandable why Blumenthal would wish to vote against a bill that restricted abortion to 20 weeks, the point at which, reputable scientists say, an unborn child feels pain. Blumenthal is sensitive enough to feel everyone’s pain, but there are limits, even to compassion. It is less understandable why Blumenthal should feel “It is shameful and disgraceful that this measure should be before Congress.” The bill rejected by Connecticut two US Senators would have been accepted in nearly all prominent European counties. Apparently, Blumenthal is unaware that in most advanced European countries the gestational limit on abortion is 12 weeks, and most counties impose other limits on abortion as well.
Is it possible Blumenthal does not wish his vote against such a bill to appear on his legislative record because it might, at some future date, shame him?