In William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Marcellussays, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Rotten is a metaphor for moral corruption among the ruling class. If Shakespeare were alive today, he would say that something is rotten in the state of New York.
Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, signed a law in January that expands a woman’s right to an abortion. The law states that a woman may have an abortion “within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health."
(The previous law only allowed an abortion after twenty-four weeks to protect the mother’s life.)
The new law has sparked outrage from the pro-life movement, and rightly so. It allows for an act of evil.
It is a universal moral principle that intentionally harming an innocent person is wrong. For instance, if a man beats (or murders) his wife, he is guilty of evil. Similarly, if a fetus is a person, then aborting (killing) that fetus is also an act of evil, for no one is more innocent than the unborn.
But is a fetus a person?
In the United States, under federal law, a fetus does not have the legal status of a person. Nevertheless, states like Alabamado legally recognize the personhood of the unborn.
Whether or not a fetus is a person cannot be determined by what the law says. History has shown time and again that the law can be wrong.
Case in point: In the 18th century, slaves were counted as three-fifthsof a person. Slaves were dehumanized because they were considered inferior to white people.
Sadly, history often repeats itself.
Today, the pro-choice movement dehumanizes the unborn. Pro-choice advocates call an unborn baby a “fetus” to deny that he or she is a person.
A fetus is definedas “the developing young in the uterus, specifically the unborn offspring in the postembryonic period, which in humans is from the third month after fertilization until birth.”
Because a fetus is “developing” the word suggests something less than a person. However, at a certain stage of development, a fetus does become a person. It is the point of fetal viability: “the ability of a fetus to survive outside of the womb.”
Premature babies born as early as 22 weeks have survived. And with every passing week, their viability increases.
At the age of viability, a fetus should be legally defined as a person. Whether inside or outside the womb, a 22-week-old fetus is an unborn baby. (Even at 18 weeks, the unborn can hear sounds.)
Thus, from both a moral and legal perspective, if a woman wants to have an abortion in the later stages of her pregnancy, she needs to have a justifiable reason for doing so.
One reason is to save her life. If giving birth could result in a woman’s death, then an abortion must be permitted under the law. Health conditions where a woman’s life is at risk during pregnancy include“severe infections, heart failure and severe cases of preeclampsia.”
Another justifiable reason for an abortion (in the second or third trimester) is when the fetus is not viable. If the unborn baby is severely deformed and will not survive, then giving birth is only delaying the inevitable.
Although some second and third trimester abortions should be legal, New York’s abortion law opens the door to unlimited abortion on demand, even up until the day of birth. It does this by allowing for abortions to protect a woman’s health.
As Sam Sawyer points out, “the exception for health, which is not restricted to a physical definition and can be interpreted to cover psychological and emotional health… is broad enough to cover basically any possible late-term abortion.”
A 2017 study found that one reason women have abortions is they are not “emotionally or mentally prepared” to become a mother. If a woman in New York wants an abortion after 24 weeks for mental health reasons, she now has the right to request one.
What’s more, it is now legal for abortions to be performed by non-physicians. This makes the abortion of a viable fetus even more likely.
How many abortions will be performed after 24 weeks to protect a woman’s mental health? No one will ever know because the exact reason a woman has an abortion is never made public.
By allowing for abortions to protect a woman’s health, New York’s abortion law permits the killing of a healthy, viable unborn baby that is no threat or danger to her life.
That is why the law is evil.
It also removes abortion from the criminal code, so that no one can be charged with homicide for performing a late-term abortion that violates the law.
This effectively means that there is no abortion law in New York. (A law that has no consequences for breaking it is only a suggestion.)