SANTA FE, N.M. — A legislative committee in New Mexico has killed a proposed bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks—five months gestation—if the abortionist believed that the child was viable.
Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, had introduced S.B. 243 to stop the murder of children past what he considers to be the point of viability.
“Before a physician performs an abortion on a woman that the physician has reason to believe is carrying a fetus of twenty or more weeks gestational age, the physician shall first determine, in a manner consistent with accepted obstetrical and neonatal practices and standards, if the fetus is viable,” the bill reads in part.
“If a physician determines that the fetus is twenty or more weeks gestational age and viable, the physician shall not perform or induce a late-term abortion unless the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of a pregnant woman whose life is endangered … provided, however, that the physician shall take all reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of the unborn child,” it says.
During a hearing on Tuesday, Sharer distributed to those gathered a photograph of his own granddaughter, named Scarlet, who had been born prematurely and weighed only four pounds at birth.
“Is Scarlet human?” he asked. “If the mother has an illness, does that qualify Scarlet to become a lab experiment?”
“Does that mean a doctor can cut up her heart and little lungs, little eyes, little liver, because her mother is ill?” Sharer continued. “What if mom simply doesn’t want her anymore? Does that qualify Scarlett as trash? Is that a decision between her mother and her trash collector?”
Sharer commented that it is a tragedy that hundreds of late-term babies are aborted each year in New Mexico. Southwestern Women’s Options in Albuquerque performs abortions up to 35 weeks—nearly nine months gestation.
But opponents on the Senate Public Affairs Committee opined that the bill infringed on a woman’s “right” to decide whether or not to give birth.
“I do believe that [Sharer’s legislation] is government interference,” Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, remarked, stating that she had lost two children due to premature births. “We shouldn’t be telling women what to do with their bodies.”
“I want every New Mexico woman to be able to make the decisions without harassment, judgment—and certainly without the government interfering in those decisions,” Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque.
The concept of banning abortion after the stage of viability comes from the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.
“Physicians and their scientific colleagues have regarded [the concept of ‘quickening’] with less interest and have tended to focus either upon conception, upon live birth, or upon the interim point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable,’ … albeit with artificial aid,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the mostly Republican majority. “Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”
However, some believe that the Supreme Court’s logic was faulty and contend that gestational age does not make the child less human or unworthy of life. The film “Come What May,” produced by Patrick Henry College students, centers on this argument.
“They tear the baby out of its only means of life support, and say, ‘Wow, look at that; our machines can’t sustain it’s life,’ and somehow, that proves it’s not viable?” Caleb Hogan, played by Austin Kearney, declares in the production.
Sharer’s bill was struck down by a divided 5-4 vote on Tuesday.