"We have seen a steady erosion of women's reproductive rights in this country. The Supreme Court's action today, though stunning, in many ways isn't surprising given the current culture in which scientific knowledge frequently takes a back seat to subjective opinion..."
What does the ACOG mean by scientific knowledge? I can level this same charge against the ACOG, which not only supports abortion in general, but D & X abortion in specific: they are placing a subjective opinion about the fetus above the scientific knowledge we have about the fetus.
My simple request: be consistent. Either put science first or don't. If you want science to trump subjective opinion, then let’s let science answer the question...but not just of which procedure is safest. We can't answer that question until we know how many people are involved and whether one of them is being harmed by the procedure. So let's let science tell us when the unborn is a human being, okay? Science's answer is uncontroversial: it's a living, whole organism, of the human species. You might question the definitions of these terms, but if we know that you are a biological human being, we know the unborn is one too, from the moment she comes into being.
That's science. The ACOG might respond, as many scientists do, "Sure, the unborn is a biological human being, but it's too dependent and undeveloped to be a real human being." Done with science so soon? How does any scientist know a certain level of development or independence determine our rights and value? Philosophical reflection. They are doing philosophy, which I assume is a synonym in the ACOG lexicon for "subjective opinion."
If you're struggling to catch the point, the ACOG downplays "subjective opinion," even as it implicitly disqualifies the fetus on the basis of its own subjective opinions. It wants to declare a "scientific view" that D & X abortion is necessary, but all the while treat the unborn entity like medical waste, even when science has clearly shown that the body hanging halfway out of the birth canal is a biological human who in many cases can survive outside the womb (I include this point not because I think it is significant that the unborn is viable in most D & X abortions, but because most pro-choice advocates I talk to think it's a no-brainer that viable humans should be protected). If the federal government's desire to protect that child represents subjective opinion rather than science, doesn’t the ACOG's desire to treat the child like medical waste constitute a subjective opinion too?
And what are we to make of this statement from the standard Ob/Gyn medical teaching text?
"…the status of the fetus has been elevated to that of a patient who, in large measure, can be given the same meticulous care that obstetricians provide for pregnant women." (Williams Obstetrics, 21st edition, p. 130).
Is that a subjective opinion about the fetus?
One thing is clear. This isn't a debate about science. If it were, we would long ago have granted legal protection to every fetus (not just partially-born ones). As much as the ACOG wants this to be a debate about which procedure is better for women, it's not about that. It's about which females are going to be included in the class of protected women, born only, or unborn also? The federal government drew the line in 2003 and the Supreme Court upheld it a few weeks ago: once you're halfway out of the womb, you count. Sure, that's a philosophical opinion, just like the opinion of the ACOG and everyone else's in this debate. So here's a suggestion for the ACOG: make better philosophical arguments for your belief that partially-born fetuses are medical waste, and perhaps you can convince people the law should be overturned. In the absence of such arguments, the legislature and Supreme Court is on firm footing.