Republicans want to increase the suffering of dying babies. Democrats should say so

Republicans are on the defensive after 2018’s blue wave and saddled with an unpopular president, so they’re going with an old favorite: lies and fear-mongering about abortion. If the extremity of a lie is correlated with the desperation of the person telling it, Republicans are very desperate indeed, because their current attack is that Democrats favor infanticide.

Democrats are “taking a barbaric position,” according to Rep. Steve Scalise, the House minority whip. Because, see, Democrats think women should have the right to decide, in consultation with their doctors, to terminate a second- or third-trimester pregnancy in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or there are fetal abnormalities so severe that a baby would die, likely in pain, within hours of birth. And when a baby is born in such a terminal condition, Democrats don’t think that parents and doctors should be forced to resuscitate so that it can suffer for slightly longer. 

Politico reports that Democrats “hope to focus on aspects of women’s health where they are on more solid ground—for instance by, attacking the Trump administration’s recent move to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, congressional aides said.” Okay … but we can also take this head on.

Dr. Jen Gunter did just that in the New York Times, writing about her own child who died after being born premature. As an obstetrician, she knew what it meant when she went into labor at 22 weeks while pregnant with triplets. She was alone in the bathroom when she delivered her son into her own hands. And when nurses and doctors arrived, she knew there was nothing they could do. Gunter was being treated to try to save her other two sons—who did survive—when “a nurse parted everyone and brought him to me wrapped in a blanket. He was dying, she said. Did I want to hold him?” That was the real choice she had. Hold her dying son, or not. Any medical intervention on him would only have prolonged the inevitable. 

Or take the experience of Dana Zirlott, who wrote at HuffPost that she wished she’d been allowed to have an abortion when she got pregnant after rape, not because she didn’t love her daughter, but because she had watched her dearly loved daughter, born with a condition that a doctor described as “not compatible with life,” suffer for a year before dying. An abortion, Zirlott wrote, “would have been a kindness. Zoe would not have had to endure so much pain in the briefness of her life. Her heart could have been stopped when she was warm and safe inside me, and she would have been spared all that came after.”

These are stories for Democrats to embrace—to fight not just for women, but for babies whose suffering Republicans want to increase.


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