Having read the extended report by the editorial board of The New York Times titled “A Woman’s Rights,” I was distressed to read the story in my local paper, The Indiana Gazette, that carried the headline “White Seeking Change to Pennsylvania High Court’s Decision.” “White” is the powerful local state senator Don White, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision referred to ruled that a woman cannot be charged with child abuse for her drug use during pregnancy. A Gazette story a few days earlier explained that
The Supreme Court’s main opinion said the law’s definition of a child does not include fetuses or unborn children, and victims of perpetrators must be children under the Child Protective Services Law.I immediately recognized the danger in Senator White’s proposal. After a couple of days’ consideration, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Gazette that was published last week. The text of my letter follows:
I oppose state Sen. Don White’s efforts to facilitate prosecution for child abuse of mothers who have taken illegal drugs (“White seeking change to high court’s decision,” Sunday).
Whereas his appears to be a sincere effort to protect the innocent, it is actually a step toward granting personhood to the unborn and abridging the constitutional rights of women. Attributing personhood (and therefore rights) to the unborn is a legal minefield intended by anti-choice activists ultimately to outlaw abortion and perhaps even birth control.
In the near future, it could allow for such absurdities as prosecution for homicide of less-than-perfect mothers experiencing miscarriages. Senator White’s proposal must not become law.
Lionel DeimelWhether my letter will cause people to rethink their initial reaction to Senator White’s proposal, I don’t know. I hope it will.