By John Klar
In its recent and controversial pro-abortion decision, the Kansas Supreme Court warped the English language, repeatedly referring to abortions as “whether to continue a pregnancy.” But more glaringly, in its 87-page opinion, the Kansas Court completely avoided any discussion of the existence of fetal personhood, even though protecting the unborn was the entire purpose of the challenged law.
As Justice Biles noted in his concurring opinion (pp. 96–97):
My larger point is this: … S.B. 95 is not claimed by the State to have been enacted to promote maternal health — it is all about fetal protection and tellingly entitled, “the Kansas unborn child protection from dismemberment abortion act.” K.S.A. 65-6741. And its legislative history shows patient safety was never brought up as a supporting justification….no guesswork is required — it is squarely in this legislation’s title and legislative record, so why not talk about it now?
The reason the Kansas Court will “not talk about it now” is that the left fights tooth and nail against any recognition of fetal personhood. Third-trimester abortions are illegal in Kansas. But in Vermont, pending legislation seeks to guarantee unfettered availability of abortion up until delivery.
Vermont, too, seeks to frame the conversation as solely about women’s rights, opposing recognition of fetal personhood at all costs, even as it expands availability of abortions in both hospitals and clinics. Recently, its largest medical provider stepped in to similarly narrow the recognition of rights to that of doctor-patient, stating that “decisions about reproductive health, including abortion, are the concern of the patient and their provider, as is the case with all other medical care.”
At another Vermont hospital, administrators employed similar sterilizing language: “It’s legal, so why wouldn’t we offer it?” On such a rationale, hospitals in Vermont could also offer pornographic magazines, liquor and THC vapes.
The “progressive” abortion agenda seeks to eliminate the acknowledgement of anything human about a fetus and eclipse any hint of such a recognition by employing the righteous subterfuge of women’s rights. To borrow from dissenting Kansas justice Stegall, this is a “fabrication so flimsy it makes run-of-the-mill straw men appear as fairy tale knights by comparison” (p. 187).
Clearly, the termination of a human life is not the equivalent of “all other medical care.”
In testimony on April 19 before Vermont’s Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, Dr. Ingrid Skop insightfully opined that “pregnancy is a normal physiologic function, not a disease state. Interrupting this normal process is not health care. It is a surgical solution to a societal problem.”
Other testimony on April 19 focused not on abortion, but on fetal personhood, a verboten subject for the “Pro-Kill” movement. As Roe v. Wade recognized, there is definitely a point at which a second life exists — well prior to delivery. These two lives are intensely intertwined. Women possess deep, fundamental rights as mothers in the lives of their children, as do fathers. Both mothers and babies are humans; each has rights.
Despite a 1989 Vermont Supreme Court decision that called upon Vermont’s legislature to recognize fetal personhood under its criminal statutes, exactly the opposite has been achieved. Vermont’s legislators have steadfastly refused to create any criminal law protections for the unborn, meaning that women who are assaulted by domestic abusers, or victimized by impaired drivers, have no recourse when their unborn children are killed by criminal neglect or even malice.
At the Vermont Senate hearing, the committee heard of numerous examples of the reality of fetal personhood and the extreme sorrow that affects both men and women when they lose a child in utero. Most compelling was testimony by Patricia Blair, who was six months pregnant when her twins were killed by an impaired driver who hit her head-on in 2009.
In her written submission, Mrs. Blair wrote: “Though dozens of other states have done so, Vermont has never addressed protection or recognition for unborn victims of negligence or violence. Vermont takes pride in standing up for women’s rights, but that’s not true — because I’m a woman.”
No one on the committee dared tell Patricia Blair the truth, but back in 2010, the truth was told when she attempted to introduce fetal homicide legislation, which the ACLU maligned as a “slippery slope.” At the time, a Burlington Democrat publicly dared to admit that “violent crimes against pregnant women are a real problem, but I don’t think fetal personhood put forth in this bill is the answer. There can be unintended consequences both for women’s health and fetal health.”
Those “unintended consequences” include the chiseling away of the absolute sovereignty of women and their medical providers to determine when a fetus becomes a human being. That tyrannical determination pervades the Kansas Supreme Court’s bizarre decision as well. It is evident our nation is already well along the opposite slippery slope, and sinking further.
The Kansas Court artificially if artfully seeks to elevate the level of scrutiny of government restrictions of second-term procedures to “strict,” triumphantly proclaiming that it has expanded Kansas’s state constitutional protections beyond those of Roe. The decision simultaneously casts doubt on Roe’s trimester pregnancy analysis and completely ignores Roe’s clear ratio decidendi acknowledging a “compelling state interest” in fetal personhood. In all three ways this court patted itself on the back for tipping the Roe balance in favor of so-called women’s rights. In all three ways, it sought to diminish or extinguish legal recognition of unborn babies as persons.
Kansas wishes to ignore fetal personhood in the name of women’s second-trimester abortions, no matter how much the babies suffer. Vermont seeks to blindly do the same, through the third trimester and delivery.
But not all Americans are blind. As it approaches the daylight of delivery, that striving life in the womb cannot be ignored — not even by the Vermont legislature, or the Kansas Supreme Court. Jurisdictions that stubbornly persist in slaying children late in pregnancy help educate the American public more than ever before. States that refuse to punish fetal homicide demonstrate how extremely far they will go to deny mothers’ rights when their babies have been criminally slain.
But this is where Kansas and Vermont again diverge. Vermont has steamrolled women like Patricia Blair for decades; Kansas enacted a fetal homicide law in 2007. The Kansas Legislature is now riled to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn its Supreme Court’s extremism; Vermont is poised to amend its constitution to secure elective third-trimester procedures.
America will heed women like Patricia Blair, even as Vermont ignores them in the vain hope they will simply be quiet and give up. There is no protection for the unborn so long as states like Vermont welcome women to come there to do the unthinkable, just as there was no freedom from slavery as long as one state could enslave. Those who cannot speak with mouths are speaking with their corpses to the United States Supreme Court — please, intervene. Our nation cries out for federal intervention.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. This commentary originally appeared at American Thinker.