Health Care

A Travesty in New York

New York State Capitol in Albany (Pixabay)
The new Reproductive Health Act denies the most innocent and vulnerable any explicit protection from violence.

There were two victims in the horrific attack earlier this month on Jennifer Irigoyen in New York City. But the state’s law recognizes only one of them.

Anthony Hobson allegedly dragged his pregnant former girlfriend into the stairwell of her Queens apartment building and stabbed her in the stomach, neck, and torso. Irigoyen was in her second trimester. Neither she nor her unborn child survived. 

The Queens district attorney initially announced that Hobson would be charged with second-degree murder and abortion, reasonably enough, considering that he stands accused of killing both Irigoyen and her child. Then he dropped the abortion charge in light of the state’s radical new pro-abortion law. 

The law aims to bless any abortion under any circumstance, and with a grim consistency doesn’t allow the state specially to punish even violent attacks on the unborn.

The New York State Catholic Conference warned of exactly this prior to passage. “Moving abortion from the Penal Law to the Public Health Law,” it warned, “is a major policy shift that removes accountability for those who would harm unborn children outside the context of medical termination of pregnancy.” No one cared.

New York is wildly out of the mainstream on this question. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of mid-2018, at least 38 states had fetal homicide laws, and 29 of them had laws that applied from conception. There is also a federal law.

It doesn’t take much moral insight to realize that stabbing to death an unborn child is a profound wrong that deserves to be treated as a crime. But America’s abortion advocates specialize in moral obtuseness. They are opposed to recognition of personhood of any sort for the unborn child, worried that such a concession might undermine the premises of our sweepingly latitudinarian abortion regime.

Such protections raise the question: If an assailant can’t kill a fetus, why can anyone else? 

The pro-abortion advocates argue that there’s no practical need for fetal-protection laws. Judges, they say, can increase the penalty against an attacker who kills an unborn child. Yes, but there is no guarantee that any given judge will. The charges for a serious assault on a pregnant mother will be stiff regardless, they say. Perhaps, but why ignore one of the crimes? 

We don’t say of a mass murderer, “He will spend a lifetime behind bars for one killing, so why charge him with the others?” Justice demands that the state pursue charges in behalf of all the victims.

The pro-abortion forces blinker themselves against how the vast majority of people consider an unborn child. Even before her child is born, a mother — and her family — sacrifices for her child, protects her child, prays for her child, and dreams for her child. She talks to her child, and often names her child. She takes her child to the doctor. She, later in her pregnancy, knows when her child is active and when her child is resting.

Her unborn child, in short, is already what it will be after he or she is born — a cause of worry and joy, and ceaseless wonder at the miracle of life.

It is telling that pro-abortion advocates resort to euphemism even in this season of extremism. The New York law is called the Reproductive Health Act, an audacious abuse of language; the law is hostile to reproduction and dismissive of the health of unborn children. Two New York legislators wrote a defense of the law that constantly referred to “abortion care,” as if the addition of “care” softens the reality of what they are supporting. 

The wordplay is cute, but the fact is that they deliberately denied the most innocent and vulnerable any explicit protection from heinous violence. This isn’t pro-choice. It isn’t humane. And it doesn’t have anything to do with medicine. In New York, pro-abortion advocates have shown us what they really are, and no one should ever forget.

© 2019 by King Features Syndicate

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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