April 25, 2018
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Arguments over gun control and abortion will never be settled

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

Attempts at any legislation that would make it tougher for criminals or the seriously mentally ill to purchase guns, or any law that would limit the sale of certain assault rifles or magazine clips, would surely land government agents on the doorstep of every law-abiding gun owner in the country and handguns and hunting rifles would be seized randomly and without cause.

The Second Amendment would be obliterated because that is, after all, the real goal of anyone seeking those changes.

Or so aggressive gun rights advocates would have us all believe.

Even if most of us don’t believe that, the passionate message is effective and most often prevents even the most benign firearm legislation from passing no matter how many children die.

It would seem that rhetoric trumps common sense every single time in that debate.

One could argue the same could be said for any seemingly small change to any law that involves a fetus or an unborn baby, whichever the group of your particular allegiance suggests you call it.

A bill making it possible for a prosecutor to charge someone with the murder in the death of an unborn baby or fetus even one month before birth surely would lead to the end of the hard-fought right to choose granted to all women through Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Even if the legislation specifically exempts abortion providers or the mother from being charged with a crime under the law.

It’s still a “slippery slope” that needs to be defended against and is simply another way for pro-life folks to chip away at Roe.

Or so the pro-choice groups would have us all believe.

That particular bill considered by the Maine Legislature was LD 1463 and was rejected by lawmakers in 2011. It would have given a degree of legal standing to human fetuses. It would have created new prosecutable crimes, including murder and assault against an unborn child.

It was sparked in part because of the 2003 murder of Heather Fliegelman Sargent, a 20-year-old who was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed to death in her Rainbow Trailer Park home in Bangor.

Her family was distraught to learn that her husband and murderer would not be held legally or civilly responsible for the death of the baby.

It was a reasonable reaction that provided a lot of emotional armor for the pro-life activists and legislators who put forth LD 1463.

But the response from the pro-choice camp was that the heart-wrenching circumstances of the young pregnant woman’s death could not be used to “chip away” at the protections afforded every woman through Roe v. Wade and that providing “personhood rights” to a fetus would do just that.

I’m pro-choice, but I must say that was a hard position to rally behind.

It felt a little NRA-ish.

Now the Legislature is considering LD 1193, An Act to Allow a Wrongful Death Cause of Action for the Death of an Unborn Child.

The arguments both sides made for and against LD 1463 in 2011 are the exact arguments being made today for and against LD 1193.

The difference between the two bills is that one afforded criminal prosecution and one affords civil recourse.

Chances are the new bill will meet the same fate as the earlier bill.

I’d like to support LD 1193. I’d like for families joyously awaiting the birth of a new family member to have some recourse if the mother and unborn child are, say, killed by a drunken driver.

It seems right and rational.

Many supporters say it’s not about abortion at all, though coincidentally pro-life activists are most aggressively stumping for its passage, so I suspect, (insert sigh here) that it actually is.

And not unlike the issue of gun control, reasonableness in the abortion debate will not be realized. On these two issues I’ve come to believe there is no common ground to be found that will prevail over the rhetoric.

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