You Can't Be Pro-Life If You Encourage Infanticide
Note: This piece originally appeared on my blog on 06/29/16.
On Monday, an Ohio judge sentenced Emile Weaver, a former student at Muskingum University, to life in prison without parole for killing her newborn daughter by putting her in a trash bag. Weaver, who had hidden her pregnancy, gave birth in the bathroom of her sorority house in April, 2015. Weaver gave birth after months of taking drugs and drinking alcohol in the hopes of inducing a miscarriage.
My first thought when reading this story was "Why didn't she have an abortion? That would've been way more legal than infanticide."
Then I remember that while abortion is legal in the United States, the so-called pro-life movement has taken steps to make the procedure inaccessible to the point where it might as well as be illegal; the anti-choice movement, under the guise of increasing protection for women, has pushed for--and gotten--increased restrictions on the procedure.
Ohio is one of the many states where these restrictions are in place. Ninety-one percent of Ohio counties have no abortion clinics and more than fifty percent of all the women who live in the state live in those no-clinic counties. Weaver lived in one of those counties at the time of her pregnancy and Ohio's lack of public funding for the procedure, its mandatory waiting periods, and entirely unnecessary ultrasound may have further deterred Weaver from seeking an abortion.
On top of that, the anti-choice crowd's war on contraception and its insistence upon ineffective abstinence only sex-ed as well as society's habit of slut-shaming sexually active women more or less guaranteed that Weaver would become pregnant in the first place.
Unfortunately, Weaver isn't the only woman who has dealt with an unwanted pregnancy in this manner. Earlier this year, a woman in Staten Island, New York was charged with murder after dumping her newborn baby in the garbage after giving birth in secret. In November of last year, a Chicago woman threw her newborn out the window of her eighth floor apartment; the baby died of her injuries en route to the hospital. This spring a University of Illinois student gave birth to a baby boy in a dormitory bathroom and then suffocated him.
Even more unfortunately, stories like these will become the norm as the Christian Right and the anti-choice movement continue to limit the reproductive choices of women. The blood of those slain infants is on their mothers' hands but the hands of anti-choice leaders aren't clean, either