You might think The Washington Post has editing standards or at least knowledge about the topics it covers. This assumption would be wrong. Last weekend, the Post published an article about abortion in which almost every claim was unresearched.
The headline says it all: “If a fetus is a person, it should get child support, due process and citizenship.” Why, yes, it should; this is a commonly held view among pro-life Americans. But the author apparently doesn’t know that. Nor, apparently, do any of her editors.
Should child support start at conception? Yes. Fathers should not be able to coerce abortions by threatening a mother’s ability to raise her child. Surveys by the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute show the primary reason women abort their pregnancies is financial struggles. Accordingly, pro-life activists maintain a nationwide system of private charities, such as Gabriel Network, focused on helping pregnant mothers get health care, housing, and other necessary services, empowering women to choose life for their babies.
Should a fetus get due process? Yes. Pro-life legislation placing common-sense limits on abortion provides much-needed due process in this area. President Trump, citing actual pro-choice legislators, claims they support “executing” born-alive babies. Pro-choice media like The New York Times hate President Trump’s choice of words. But the difference between aborting innocent viable babies versus executing guilty criminals is that those guilty criminals are constitutionally afforded due process, whereas innocent babies do not.
In the United States, only the most heinous murderers can be executed. Often, rapists and other seemingly execution-worthy criminals get a pass. But first a murderer must be indicted, then he gets a legal defense at trial. Then a jury must find him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Then, generally, a jury must recommend the death penalty.
A judge may reject the jury’s recommendation. If the judge doesn’t, the murderer can pursue a direct appeal. If that doesn’t work, he can pursue habeas corpus review, which is essentially an appeal of the trial process. Even after multiple levels of such review, a convicted murderer can still seek clemency from a government official in the executive branch.
An innocent fetus, even one who is viable outside the womb (also known as a baby), gets no such protections in the United States. Pro-choice activists even lobby for ever-lower standards on abortion, ever later in pregnancy, but the United States is already a global outlier in its permissiveness of late-term abortions, along with North Korea and China.
Should you get to claim a fetus on your taxes? Yes, and that concept already exists in the law. The Washington Post’s writer apparently doesn’t know this—even though she purports to be a law professor—and her editors don’t seem to know this, either.
But an unborn child already qualifies for tax-privileged college savings. Unborn children already count toward family size calculations under a variety of government programs. And you can “claim a fetus on your taxes” if it’s born in the same 12-month window as that tax year. Your unborn child can be claimed as a dependent on your taxes for the entire year even if that child was born on December 31 at 11:59 p.m.
“We do not celebrate our dates of conception or the date of our sixth week in utero,” says the writer who has never met millennial parents. But everyone who has actually planned parenthood remembers and celebrates milestones like the sixth week in utero. There’s an app for that. My daughter’s nickname originates with the moment my wife and I learned her fetal development had progressed to where she reached the size of a Sweet Pea. That happens in the sixth week.
The writer says “these questions highlight the unintended and potentially absurd consequences of sweeping abortion bans.” No, actually, these questions highlight the incompetence of pro-choice writers and editors at the Post.
There is no easy or singular answer to the question of how abortion should be regulated in the United States. That is why Americans are divided over this important moral question, so a media company that styles itself as an important arbiter of information should at least make a minimal effort to educate itself about the topic. Maybe democracy dies in ignorance.