This is the first post of an as-yet-undetermined number in which I discuss issues other than abortion that pro-lifers are concerned about. The immediate impetus for this series comes from the implication in some paleo-right circles (here, for example) that conservatives, particularly evangelicals, care only about abortion.
It is now widely known among conservatives that infant euthanasia is carried out in Holland frequently. The publicization of the infamous Groningen Protocol brought this long-standing fact to Americans' notice in a fashion that could not be ignored. And Wesley J. Smith points out that the conceptual and ethical ground is being cleared by non-judgemental discussions of this protocol for its implementation in the U.S. Even more ground-clearing has taken place in the form of personhood theory a la Peter Singer, widely taught as part of "ethics" in our universities.
The Born Alive Infant Protection Acts in the U.S., both federal and state versions, have been one attempt on the part of pro-lifers to be pro-active in resisting the push for Peter Singer values and law on our shores.
One problem with the federal BAIPA is that it contained no enforcement provisions. The Illinois version (which I believe never passed) had for enforcement a companion bill specifically permitting lawsuits by those with standing to sue if premature infants were not treated as persons and did not receive due care. This is a step in the right direction, but there is some question as to how often the parents of the child would sue if they themselves had deliberately procured an induction abortion.
It seems to me that active infanticide should be a major concern, especially when, as in a horrible case in Hialeah, it is not prosecuted despite being obviously against existing state laws. My guess is that selective law enforcement is a major part of the problem there, with that problem including both the complicity of coroners in their declarations of causes of death and state prosecutors in their decisions not to press charges.
I do not know whether I have ever blogged this story before, but quite some years ago an e-mail friend who shall remain nameless, a medical student, told me of a wanted preemie, born at 18 weeks gestation in the hospital where he was working. The practice guidelines of the OB group who delivered the child were such that, whether wanted or not, he would not receive breathing assistance or any sort of full-court press to try to help him survive before 24 weeks. They took him from his mother so that she would not be distressed by his attempts to breathe, and he breathed room air in another room for two hours until he was near enough to the end that the doctors decided to return him to his mother to hold. During that time period, my correspondent distinctly heard a female resident, upset by the child's respiratory distress, express the desire to smother him with a pillow. She was roundly rebuked by a black nurse and did not carry out her perhaps only half-serious threat. It was my correspondent's opinion that if the resident had said nothing but had quietly smothered the baby, it was possible that no one would have known, that other medical personnel (besides himself and the nurse) who did find out would have turned a blind eye, and that the murder would have been difficult to prosecute.
What might be done about active infanticide that goes unprosecuted? It seems to me that one possibility would simply be various education campaigns within the law enforcement and executive branches, including state and county prosecutors. For example, state right to life organizations could research state laws to confirm the obvious--that active infanticide falls under existing murder and homicide laws, regardless of the infant's age. Some prosecutor positions are elected positions, and state governors may also have influence upon law enforcement policy in the state. Right to life groups should be actively talking to county prosecutors, especially in places like Hialeah where a known incident has occurred, and looking for candidates who will state openly that active infanticide is murder and that it will be prosecuted within their jurisdictions to the full extent of the law, regardless of the age of the live, born child.
In any event, I think it is important for American conservatives to realize that the culture of death has many tentacles. Pro-lifers often do realize this, and so when pro-lifers are excited about a candidate for any office because they perceive that candidate as truly staunchly pro-life, this does not refer only to abortion but also to these other forms of murder of the helpless that have come to our shores and are being actively and cold-bloodedly promoted by our elites. People in different political offices will have different ways of helping to stem the tide, but in any event, anyone who thinks that pro-life is solely about abortion needs to life up his eyes and see what is coming over the horizon.