I will keep this post updated as reaction to the story comes in.
Just a few moments after posting my previous piece that asserts that the only real disagreement between those who believe there is or is not a right to abortion, is the issue of whether or not an unborn human being has any legal rights, I went on over to the Pro-Life Blogs site, and found this news of a Chicago court case. You can also read about it here.
A Chicago couple was using the services of a fertility clinic. A viable embryo was produced using in vitro fertilization, and chosen for later implantation in his or her mother's womb. The embryo was frozen. Then, because of a mix-up in communication, the embryo was thrown away and hence destroyed.
There is probably not much argument that the parents have a negligence claim against the clinic, however, a Chicago judge has ruled that the suit can be filed on the basis of wrongful death. He cites Illinois law that allows parents to sue in cases of wrongful death of their unborn children and he asserts that Illinois law clearly recognizes conception as the beginning of life. Judge Jeffrey Lawrence wrote, "Philosophers and theologians may debate, but there is no doubt in the mind of the Illinois Legislature when life begins. It begins at conception."
We've witnessed this tension before.
This case is yet another of many that illustrate the tension that exists between abortion supporters who wish to suppress recognition of the rights of the unborn, and the parents of the unborn who want their children to have legal protection and recognition.
Unborn Victims of Violence Act
Anyone could see that Conner Peterson was a victim of murderous violence. The only basis of denying him and others like him justice through the Unborn Victims of Violence Act was a fear of the implications of that case on the abortion issue.
The Bill's sweeping definition of "child in utero" threatens the right to choose. By defining the phrase "child in utero" to include any "member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb," UVVA provides protection for an "unborn child" regardless of the stage of development, from conception to birth.
In so doing, the sponsors exposed their intent to equate harm to a zygote with harm to a person who has been born and has constitutional rights. This unacceptable result is nothing less than a deceptive attack on Roe.
So it is deceptive to call something what it is, and less deceptive to redefine children according to whether or not we wish to recognize them? (As the State of Delaware does: see below.)
Dismissing the Stillborn
Likewise, parents of stillborn children would like to have death certificates for their children. As the mother of a miscarried child and also of a child who died on the day of his premature birth, I certainly understand this desire. But how could this be done without requiring death certificates for late-term abortions? In order to balance these two concerns, laws are being written that require certificates for the stillborn child, but duplicitously exclude cases in which the child lost his or her life due to the actions of an abortionist. This is the definition of stillbirth according to Delaware law:
"Spontaneous fetal death" or "stillborn fetus" is defined as a spontaneous death (i.e., not an induced termination of pregnancy) prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a product of conception.
Hence fetal death by natural causes is recorded in Delaware, but those caused by homicide are not. This is typical of other state laws, as well.
Here is a copy of a letter in which District IX of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists object to a proposed certificate of stillbirth law in California. First, they assert two objections based on the purposes for fetal death certificate and birth certificates, both of which ignore any needs of the families of those who are born or die. (If birth or death certificates serve no purpose to families, why do we all have copies of them? I have copies of these not only for myself and my immediate family, but for generations of my ancestors.)
The third objection is more to the point.
This bill requires the reporting of a fetal death over 20 weeks, regardless of the reason a pregnancy was terminated. Pregnancies can terminate naturally through spontaneous abortion (miscarriages) or through elective abortions. Abortion is a legal procedure. This bill would require the reporting of any woman who has an abortion over 20 weeks. This violates a woman's right to privacy, because these records are a matter of public record. The requirement to report 20+ week abortions serves no public purpose and is designed to discourage women from receiving abortion services....
Strange, isn't it, that this same group of doctors does not oppose the requirement that births to mothers who immediately give up their children for adoption be recorded in birth certificates as well? Doesn't this violate their privacy? Are such laws designed, as they say, to discourage mothers from continuing their pregnancies? (Most states have laws which keep these records private anyway. I can order certificates for myself and my children, and in the cases of deaths, for my direct ancestors. In any other cases they must be quite old--state laws vary--before I can order copies or view the original records.)
The fourth reason given in this letter is a dismissal of the families' needs by reducing them to "validating a woman's motherhood," and then asserting that no piece of paper can do this. The only explanation I can come up with for this callous attitude is a complete misunderstanding of how others (including fathers) value human life and thank God for all their families' children, born or unborn.
There are only two available positions for the pro-abortion crowd.
As those who value the lives of their own children continue to demand that the law recognize and protect them, expect to see more opposition from those who assert abortion rights. They will be forced into one of two positions. Either they will have to look these mothers and fathers in the eye and coldly tell them their dead children deserve no recognition or justice, or they will be forced to legally define two groups of unborn people: the wanted and the unwanted. God help us.
You can read the AP article on the Chicago case here.
The Washington Times reports on the Chicago case, and it seems the ACLU is beginning to weigh in with concern that the ruling, if allowed to stand, could negatively impact embryonic stem cell research.
Another interesting aspect of this case is how it will pit those who think judges should interpret the law as written against those who think judges should overrule written law because the results of a strict interpretation would be undesirable. Since Illinois explicitly states that life begins at conception, and also explicitly gives parents the right to sue for wrongful death for unborn children, the ruling, in my unprofessional opinion, seems to be a strict interpretation.