Yesterday, Nebraska passed two curious abortion laws. The first bans abortions after 20 weeks because fetuses “feel pain” and the other requires a woman have “mental health” screening before she can abort. Both laws were construed to prevent Nebraska from becoming the next Kansas and to press forward the Right to Life Crusade back into the Supreme Court to overturn Rove v. Wade.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there is no scientific evidence proving fetuses feel pain — the Nebraska law is especially blurry, yet cunning and cynical in the deceit of its inception, because it changes the abortion argument from one of medical fetal viability to the vague, emotional, idea of a fetus feeling pain — and since only 1.4% of abortions in the USA happen after 21 weeks, the new Nebraska laws are clearly intended to press forward a political agenda instead of protecting fetuses from pain.
The notion that women now have to be clinically screened for mental health problems before they can abort puts even more of an onus on a doctor for shared drowning in the emotional requirements of the State rather than determining the physical medical stability of the mother.
If we accept the veiled Nebraska argument that any woman wanting an abortion must be crazy and needs mandatory mental health screening — then must we not also require mental health clearance for any man engaging in unprotected sex with a woman in Nebraska?
Why wouldn’t the State demand pre-qualification for the possibility of fatherhood to make certain the sperm donor is mentally fit and genetically sound?
Right now, in Nebraska, it is difficult to dismiss the following logical disconnect between habit-of-action and new law: “The State of Nebraska doesn’t care if crazy women get pregnant and give birth — we only intervene if the crazies decide to abort their pregnancies.”
If Nebraska is genuine in its effort to protect fetuses from pain — does that include the pain of being born or being surgically repaired or being malnourished in childhood? Is there now a greater responsibility for the State to guarantee a pain-free life from cradle to grave?
If the new threshold in Nebraska for lawfulness in its citizenry is the non-infliction of pain, then the State must step forward and spend the money to become the best place in the world for babies to be born — and live! — a pain-free life; but Nebraska will first have to deal with these disturbing historical facts that shatter the families in which the newly protected, but pain-free, fetuses will be born:
Ninety-five percent of Nebraska’s kids younger than 6 live with working parents. For nearly three out of every four young Nebraska children who live in two-parent homes, both parents hold jobs.
Seventy-four percent of Nebraska kids younger than 6 have working moms. In Lancaster County, the number is slightly higher – 77 percent. That means more than three out of every four moms with young children hold jobs, according to the 2009 Kids Count Report released in January.
Nebraska will also need to change its thinking on the way it manages, perceives, and protects the welfare of its children:
Nebraska has been wrongfully denying Medicaid coverage to hundreds of low-income residents whom state officials argued did not work enough to comply with a welfare-to-work program, a judge has ruled.
The ruling nixes a controversial state policy that required a single parent with one or more children younger than 6 years old, for instance, to work at least 20 hours a week to retain the Medicaid benefits.
Nebraska will need to find more money in a withering economy to provide appropriate prenatal care to any citizen mother — or else they risk moral duplicity in the light of their new anti-abortion law:
On Feb. 4, about 5,800 pregnant women [in Nebraska] receiving Medicaid coverage for their unborn children were mailed letters saying their babies’ coverage would end March 1. The state had learned recently it was covering unborn children in error, according to federal Medicaid eligibility guidelines.
How can it ever be possible to make an error in covering the health of any unborn child in Nebraska?
Sure, Nebraska can play a rough game against abortion, but the State must also be prepared to provide services and support for those fetuses it plans to legally force into being born — if the State can actually keep them alive after the first breath.
In 2007 (the latest year of statistics) Nebraska’s tiniest and youngest citizens died at the highest rate in five years — 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 births, said Dr. Magda Peck, associate dean and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
In 2007, 183 Nebraska infants died before their first birthday.
And 7 percent of all babies born in Nebraska that year weighed less than 5.5 pounds, the minimum weight giving babies the best odds of surviving and thriving.
Nebraska must also confront their sorry history of Foster Care returns:
The percentage of children who returned to foster care, many of them younger than 5, increased to 41 percent in 2008.
That percentage is the highest in the past six years. …
Among the children in foster care last year, 796 entered because of their behaviors.
Nearly 46 percent of foster children were removed from their homes in 2008 because parents were abusing drugs, including methamphetamine or alcohol. The Foster Care Review Board recommended expanding rehabilitation and mental health facilities across the state to treat parents struggling with substance abuse.
Nebraska can be the loss-leader in the abortion fight, but the undeniable extrapolation of those two new laws, is the moral creation of an expensive, but dutiful, “Viability Mandate.”
The Nebraska Viability Mandate must cover the painless entirety of its citizens across all childhood crevasses and adult arcs — and not just the convenient, political, zygote.