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Late-term abortion: Compassion over rhetoric

Kate Craig, Guest Commentary • Feb 14, 2019 at 8:00 AM

“Thursday, Feb. 7, Rebecca Horvath issued a call to action for the far right-wing Republican base in support of Micah Van Huss’s once again introduced “Heartbeat Bill” and to rally the troops to speak out against the New York legislation on late-term abortions.

Horvath’s rhetoric, “If you’re not horrified by this concept, you’re not paying attention,” is a clear message of either you agree with her or you don’t care. Her judgment condemning those who empathize with the women having to make impossible decisions only shows her lack of empathy and compassion for families, for women who are heartbroken and suffering.

I could dive into facts about how when abortion is legalized abortion rates go down — a fact Ms. Horvath clearly acknowledges and then dismisses by admitting abortion rates have decreased since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. I could cite how as a report from 2018 found maternal mortality rates are still on the rise in the United States and show how other developed nations are outpacing us when protecting the life of the mother. I could also include that infant mortality rates are on the rise in the United States as well (which isn’t a statistic that includes abortion rates). And yet somehow among all these facts, Ms. Horvath believes that an abortion could never save the life of the mother.

But the truth of it is, how we feel about abortion, the policies and politicians we support in terms of a candidate’s platform and the policies they later enact is rooted in emotion. Not facts.

No woman who has had a late-term abortion wanted to make that decision. Her heart is breaking. This was a wanted pregnancy. There was a name picked out, a crib bought, plans made, baby showers thrown, and hopes and dreams of what a life as being a parent would mean in watching her child grow up and change the world.

This plan, this life she wanted for herself and her family was dying with the news given to her from a doctor about the lungs developing on the outside of the body, about a congenital defect that would mean the baby would die an agonizing death as soon as it was born, or that the baby’s cells were attacking the mother’s and that the mother’s life would most likely be lost if the baby was carried to term.

For some women, this is their first pregnancy. For others, it’s their second, third or fourth. That mother’s life has value — because all mothers are more than just mothers. They are individuals, athletes, friends, family, have careers, are activists, leaders in the community. And their heart is breaking because while they know they have value, they wanted the baby inside of them to have that potential, too. But at what cost? To grow up without a mother? To grow up without herself as a role model? For the mothers who have children at home, should they have to grow up without a mother, too?

I have family members who have struggled to conceive, who have endured the heartbreak of miscarriage after miscarriage. I understand exactly how palpable a wanted pregnancy feels. I also understand heartbreak. I cannot have children due to medical reasons that are beyond my control. And I want kids more than I can articulate in a guest column for the Johnson City Press. Yes, there are options and when the time is right, I will explore them. I will one day be a parent.

My point here is none of this is without emotion. The lives changed because of necessary, heartbreaking decisions are ones we should find compassion for. Judgment has no place in a civil society.

Ms. Horvath quoted Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

What does it say about us, what would it say about me, if I allowed a piece written with half-truths and fallacy to define a woman’s heartbreaking experience, something she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy?

I agree with Ms. Horvath that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members. This is why I’m a Democrat. The Democratic Party platform includes a plank talking about human rights. Human rights that include my rights as a gay woman, human rights as a disabled woman. Equal rights for women. The platform calls out racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, transphobia, and works to put rungs back on the ladder for those looking to climb it in the professional arena and those working to climb out of poverty. A society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable.

Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

“Do unto others as you’d have done unto you.” That’s the Golden Rule, a lesson we were all taught in kindergarten. In the divided world we live in now, it’s important that we develop a little more compassion for those around us and hope we may never know the heartbreak of lost dreams and lost hopes that fill these stories from women having to make impossible choices.

Kate Craig of Johnson City leads the Washington County Democratic Party.

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