It took the slimmest of Supreme Court margins to afford states the right to stop the practice of seizing the skull of a partially-born infant and either crushing or puncturing it. I used to think that people just didn’t know, but when even The New York Times accurately describes the procedure, it’s safe to say that people who don’t know about this practice are willfully ignorant, and they probably prefer to keep it that way.
It’s not clear that the latest ruling will reduce the rate of infanticide, despite the gnashing of teeth among pro-abortion spokesmen and corresponding celebration by anti-abortion spokesmen. Deprived of the relative convenience of murdering the infant outside the womb, abortionists will return to severing its limbs and head inside the womb.
Does the language offend? Shall I refer to that creature with eyelashes and grasping fingers and the capacity to feel the sun on his face, were he wanted, as a fetus? Shall I call the act of hacking him apart late-term intact dilation and extraction? I’m not one of those who indulges in the fantasy that every abortion-rights advocate is profoundly evil, but there is something distinctly wicked about this mangling of language, all in an effort to disguise precisely what goes on when a woman who believes she has no more options puts her feet in the stirrups.
I remember in The Silence of the Lambs, how the author has one of his characters inform us that the psychopathic killer needs to refer to his victim as it rather than you. Even the cold-blooded often need to dehumanize their victims before they can take to slaughtering them. Haven’t we done the same, every one of us who indulges in the fiction that calling a baby by the Latin word for “young one” somehow makes it a bundle of tissue rather than a human being?
I believe there are noble and well-intentioned people on both sides of this war over abortion rights. Regardless of one’s position, the very least we can do is be honest about what is taking place, not just on that bloody table, but in the lives of these women who have been driven to end a life. Pro-abortion advocates too often clinicalize and dehumanize the child to be murdered, and anti-abortion protestors too often dehumanize the woman who consents to the killing. Perhaps a little plainer talk, a little more honest talk, might do us all some good.
In that regard, I’m afraid, the Supreme Court decision may ultimately prove counter-productive. At least when blood was spilling directly from tiny skulls to linoleum floors, the crime was in plain sight. Now we have forced it back into the darkness of the womb, where the millions of us who are uncomfortable with abortion, but who also haven’t the stomach for doing much about it, can rest easier at night. There will be no fewer killings, but at least we’ll no longer have to hear the splatter.