Townhall: Mississippi abortion ban in sane and humane

Opinion by Kim Ketola | Townhall March 11, 2018

“Am I killing a baby if I get an abortion at 16 weeks?”

The 2014 Baby Center message board thread started with a desperate cry for help from veronika4044, a young woman who felt her situation was impossible. She was too young, not ready, scared and unprepared in every way to mother.

The replies from young moms were almost universal, with many offering encouragements for her specific difficulties and urging various alternatives. Yet, even those who identified as pro-choice were straightforward in giving the proper answer: yes, it is killing a baby.

What do these women know that the rest of us seem to not understand?

Mississippi is poised to ban abortions after 15 weeks.

At first glance, the formulation feels arbitrary. Medical abortion is generally not practiced after 10 weeks, and the vast majority of abortions occur before the end of 12 weeks. Mississippi already has a 20-week abortion ban in place.

According to Mississippi Today, Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, argues that later abortion carries serious health risks for the mother. He has cited statistics from the abortion rights advocates at the Guttmacher Institute on increased maternal mortality to bolster that claim. Gipson was quoted in the Chicago Tribune saying, “We are protecting more women, we are protecting more children. By 15 weeks, you have a child in the womb who has a heartbeat, who for all practical purposes has taken on the form of a person.”

As to protecting children, this bill would limit abortions at 15-20 weeks, which claim the lives of about 200 unborn babies every year in Mississippi.

Legal scholars note that similar laws by other states have been found to be unconstitutional because Roe v Wade set the precedent of viability, allowing abortion up to the point of when a child can survive outside the womb—much later in pregnancy, around 24 weeks. In light of that, some say the law is meant to test viability as a valid measure.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Jameson Taylor, acting president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, which helped lawmakers draft the Mississippi bill, says viability is not the only issue: “The question of viability is no longer the pre-eminent question that the courts look at,” he said. “The question is, what kind of burden does this regulation place? Does this basically make some kind of rational sense? We believe that the 15-week limit certainly meets that standard because you have 75 percent of countries around the world that limit abortion after the first trimester.”

This is a test of viability as the marker for when life has value. Science establishes when life begins: at conception.

When life begins to have value is a philosophical question.

And although abortion advocates have exploited the weak, dependent state of the youngest humans among us, viability is an arbitrary determinant of when we as a nation should value and protect the lives of the youngest members of the human family.

I say that because our shared human nature is what gives each of us our intrinsic value. If that is not so, then there is no such thing as equality, nor equal human rights.

Although the lawmakers in Mississippi are not on record saying so, abortion also becomes a much more brutal and inhumane business at 15 weeks. At that point, the procedure moves from taking meds (up to 10 weeks gestation), to a vacuum aspiration (10-12 weeks), to a dilation and extraction (D&E). Current practice does not seek to bring about fetal demise before the procedure, but rather to extract the living baby in pieces using forceps and scissors.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, in a D&E, “A cannula will be inserted to begin removing tissue away from the [uterine] lining. Using a curette (surgical instrument shaped like a scoop or spoon) the lining is scraped to remove any residuals. If needed, forceps may be used to remove larger parts. The last step is usually a final suctioning to make sure the contents are completely removed. … The fetal remains are usually examined to ensure everything was removed and the abortion was complete.”

Can you picture that procedure and imagine that viability is the only question which should concern us?

Are these children yet to be born not human just like you and me?

Abortion at any stage is inhumane, because it is the intentional killing of an innocent human being, and therefore, morally wrong.

So many women back at the Baby Center thread said essentially the same thing that veronika4044, who was considering abortion at 16 weeks, later wrote: “I am keeping the baby. I was thinking only of myself when I wrote this post, which I’m ashamed of now, but I realized my mistake in time. I will adjust what I need to and try to be the best mother I can be. Thank you for the help and insight. :)”

It seems she has the humility it takes to be a great mom.

If only everyone who opposes this measure in Mississippi, and advocates for abortion on demand, could learn from her story and realize their mistake in time.

This article first appeared in Townhall and is reprinted here with permission.

Kim Ketola



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