Sycloria Williams was 18 years old and 23-weeks pregnant, but she didn’t feel that she was ready for a child. So Ms. Williams did what the United States Constitution–according to 5 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices, at least–guarantees her the right to do. She got an abortion.
Ordinarily, this would not be newsworthy. Although abortions are far more common between 8 and 12 weeks, later abortions are not that uncommon and there a variety of methods to choose from.
At her position within the gestational period, four procedures would be possible. In the case of Ms. Williams, however, two can be ruled out immediately — but in her case only two were likely. The first, the Intact D&X procedure otherwise known as “partial-birth abortion,” is now illegal, and the second, a hysterotomy, can be ruled out because Ms. Williams was not under full anesthesia. The third possbility, indeed available to Ms. Williams, is an induced miscarriage, in which either a drug is administered to the fetus to stop his or her heart from beating, or the uterus is pumped with a saline or urea solution that causes death over time. In the fourth–and likely–possibility, a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure, the cervix is dilated enough for the abortionist to reach in with sharp cutting implements and forceps, dismember the fetus, and remove the body parts one piece at a time. In fact, it was the difficulty in dismemberment which brought about the concept of partial birth abortions in the first place, as the growing bones of a growing fetus at this stage make dismembering more difficult.
Either of those choices–in utero dismemberment or poisoning–would have not only been completely legal, but totally unremarkable. There would be no news coverage, no outrage, no talk of criminal charges, no quotes from leaders of the National Organization for Women, and Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique would still have his license. There would, of course, still have been a body to dispose of, but the police would have had no interest in recovering it from the trash. Additionally, the baby in question would most likely not have been given a name.
But she was. Her name was Shanice.
The reason Shanice was given a name is that Dr. Renelique was running late that day. Ms. Williams delivered the baby healthy and alive and, at 23 weeks, Shanice had a slim but real chance of survival. She never got that chance, however. Instead, the abortion clinic official knocked Shanice out of the reclining chair where Ms. Williams had given birth, cut the umbilical cord without clamping it, and threw the baby in the trash. The cause of death was listed as “extreme prematurity,” but it is more likely that Shanice bled to death through the unclamped umbilical cord.
While Americans react in shock and outrage, I can’t help but ask “What’s the big deal?” I would like for someone to explain to me why we are horrified that a 23-week-old baby would be left to bleed to death outside the womb, but consider it business as usual if it is poisoned or dismembered inside the womb. What, pray tell, is the difference?
Our national split-personality disorder with respect to abortion is nothing new. If an unborn human being is wanted, then we use the word “child” and display pictures from ultrasounds on our refrigerator doors. If you kill a pregnant woman who wanted her child, you can be charged with double homicide. However, if the exact same human being is unwanted, then we do not call it a child — we may call it a fetus, or we may deny that it exists at all and refer to the more general “products of conception” or “uterine contents.” Or, in the case of President Barack Obama, we might call it a “pre-viable fetus.”
None of these Orwellian games alter the fact that Shanice was just as alive and just as human in the moments before she was born as in the moments afterwards. She didn’t change. Only our perception of her did, and it is on that irrational distinction between born and unborn that we as a nation have decided to grant or deny the most fundamental right: the right to life.
Robert has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.