Human Exceptionalism

New Missouri Law Requires Informed Consent About Fetal Humanity Before Abortion

A new law has gone into effect in Missouri that requires women contemplating abortion to be told some medical facts.  From the story:

But in the meantime, the process of getting an abortion in Missouri has changed. Starting this week women seeking an abortion in Missouri will:

– Be asked if they want to hear the fetus’s heartbeat.

– Be told that fetuses may feel pain, and they will be offered anesthesia for the fetus.

– Receive a pamphlet with the words, “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique, living human being.”

All of the above is required by a new law that took effect Saturday. The new law also requires clinics to ask if women want to see an ultrasound, something Brownlie said Planned Parenthood already does.

It seems to me that most of this information is indisputable biologically.  The heart starts beating at the embryonic stage of development. The lives of all of us began with the completion of the fertilization process.  Abortion does terminate the life of a genetically unique, living–albeit still developing–human being.  Whether that matters morally, some would say, is a different issue, and it doesn’t matter legally after Roe v. Wade.  But a fetus is a human life, not a tumor or an intestinal blockage, and women should be so told.

The fetal pain provision, however, seems not to be supported by biology–unless the abortion is at a later stage.  Also, offering anesthesia for the fetus, which would be of no efficacy in the earlier stages of pregnancy, isn’t medically warranted.  Thus, I think this isn’t right (again, assuming it isn’t a late term abortion) because the law is requiring doctors to offer a non efficacious intervention.

Still, the point, it seems to me, is to ensure that women exercise their choices with full information (in the hope, I have no doubt, that fewer women will decide to terminate). I think a state has a right to take such a position in its public policy and favor the choice of life.