I’ve already written about my opinion that life begins at conception (and therefore I do not support abortion), and I’ve written many times about my desire for radical change in our current political system. But I also believe that justice and change can occur in small steps that may not appear to lead us closer to our primary goals. I think HB 13-1154 (Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act) is one of those small steps.
This bill would make “unlawful termination of a pregnancy” a crime. Thirty-eight other states already have fetal homicide legislation, but Colorado was not one of those states. Since abortion is legal in Colorado, and this act specifically excludes from prosecution any “medical care for which the mother provides consent” and it specifically does not confer “personhood” on an unborn child, many conservatives (including the Republicans who all voted against the act) feel the law is a failure for the personhood movement.
Listen, I understand that we all have grand goals of personhood and criminalization of abortion, but sometimes it is necessary to take a step back and think about what this law will achieve, rather than what it does not or how it might make things troublesome “down the road.” And as much as it pains me to do so, we also need to consider compromise and common ground with liberals even on a topic as emotional as this.
This law DOES give justice to so many unborn children and their families who are ripped apart by crimes leading to an innocent death. These families currently have no recourse under Colorado law to achieve justice for the deaths of their children. I cannot imagine the wrath I would inflict on anyone who tried to tell me that this kicking, squirmy little girl in my belly right now is not a person and does not deserve to have her life vindicated in the event of a crime. I don’t really care that the legislation doesn’t include personhood, because this is a law that should be on the books no matter what.
This law is also a step toward finding common ground with our liberal friends. Many pro-choice people believe that intention is a primary determinant in whether an unborn child is a person or a pregnancy. In this instance we can agree and stand together in saying that these victims of crimes deserve a voice because their mothers intended for them to live. It’s a chink in the armor that we can work with. Once you’ve discussed with a friend that they believe a mother’s intention can make the death of an unborn child a crime, then you can discuss the philosophical ramifications of having one human’s intentions determine the value of the life of another. Are they truly willing to say that it is a woman’s emotions and life circumstances rather than some ubiquitous scientific standard of the nature of life that determines whether a death is legal or illegal? If so, why should our intentions about another person’s value cease to matter upon birth? You can’t have it both ways. It is either intentions or science that determines if a life has the value to be vindicated. If it is science, then all unborn children either have full personhood or never have personhood, even in the event of a crime. Many people are reluctant to take that stance in light of a law such as HB 13-1154. But if intentions are a person’s primary guide, then you can demonstrate to them the slippery slope that creates in their support of abortion and their value of all human life.
When considering your support for bills such as these, remember to look at all angles and ramifications. Unborn children deserve justice, even if this bill doesn’t include steps toward larger goals regarding personhood.