The Right to Bury Your Head in the Sand

In today's America, we seem to have a proliferation of new rights not enumerated in the Constitution. The most famous of the rights is the Right to Privacy which, of course, is not specifically identified in the Constitution, but which became a right by judicial reasoning in Griswold v. Connecticut. We also have (supposedly) a right to work, a right to food, a right to die, a right to medical care, a right to education, a right to personal autonomy, and many other rights that have seemingly become part of a core of unenumerated rights that either are recognized by law or which some argue should be recognized by law (with the obvious implications following therefrom). While I personally don't think that some of the aforementioned unenumerated rights deserve to be thought of as rights, each of these "rights" deserve respectful consideration.

Yesterday, however, I read a newspaper article where a new right was being articulated that I hadn't previously encountered: the right to bury your head in the sand. To say it other ways, it is the "right to not be confused by the facts" or the "right to not let additional information that may demonstrate that a particular course of action is wrong sway you from engaging in what may be very bad behavior". It arose in an article in yesterday's Albuquerque Journal entitled Ultrasounds Used to Change Minds. The article centered on the use of ultrasound technology to show women the actual condition of their "fetuses" before exercising their constitutional right to abortions (which is, of course, another judicially recognized, unenumerated right).

"Ultrasound shows young people that, whatever decision they make, it is a life," said Joan Douglas, executive director of Care Net Pregnancy Center of Albuquerque, which uses ultrasound machines.

This position by Care Net is well publicized. According to its press release, Care Net has been involved in the drafting of the Informed Choice Act which enables "pregnancy centers to apply for grants to receive ultrasound machines allowing women to see their unborn children before choosing abortion." According to a report in Life News, the new 4-D ultrasound equipment that could be purchased under this law "allows a mother the opportunity to see her baby moving in real time, and allows them [sic] to see amazing detail of facial and body features. Using this technology, parents are able to see their unborn child move, cry and even smile." That seems quite reasonable. After all, if a woman can see with her own eyes that the "fetus" which is in her womb has a head, a torso, arms, legs, fingers and is moving, it helps to bring home the point that Pro-Life advocates have been making all along: the "fetus" is a living human being. So, why wouldn't we want to allow women to see exactly what they are "terminating" with their abortion? No good reason, it seems to me.

But, of course, abortion advocates oppose this legislation. According to the aforementioned Life News article, NARAL Pro-Choice America's director of government relations called the use of 4-D technology that permits women to see more clearly than ever the "fetus" in their womb a "weapon". The previously mentioned Care-Net press release notes:

NARAL and Planned Parenthood are on record opposing the Informed Choice Act. They don’t want women to see ultrasound pictures because they know ultrasounds deter women from getting abortions. One abortionist on Long Island even said, ‘The bottom line is no woman is going to want an abortion after she sees a sonogram.’

I have looked to Planned Parenthood and NARAL sites in vain to find some mention either pro or con about the Informed Choice Act. Thus far, I have found nothing. Thus, I cannot confirm the accuracy of the statements attributed to or concerning NARAL and Planned Parenthood's positions on the Informed Choice Act by Life News or Care-Net. The Albuquerque Journal article also fails to say whether those organizations oppose the bill that allows the purchase of these machines. Given the rabid nature of these organizations in fighting any type of restrictions or regulation of abortion, I am very suspicious of the fact that they have nothing published supporting, opposing or even mentioning the Informed Choice Act. The lack of any mention makes it likely that they withdrew their published opinions when they realized how silly they looked.

The Albuquerque Journal article doesn't mention any opposition to the Informed Choice Act, either. However, the Albuquerque Journal article does note that Eve Espey, a local obstetrician/gynecologist, opposes legislation that would force (the article's word) a woman to view an ultrasound prior to electing an abortion. Why? Here's her entire reasoning as quoted in the newspaper (with emphasis added):

"I think it's very much a coercive measure," said Espey, "because I think it gets back to your basic right to have the information you want to have."

Say what? When did we get a "basic right" to have "the information you want to have" before making a decision? Obviously, she isn't talking about getting more information, but rather the right to limit information to only certain types that the woman (or anyone else) wants to hear. I don't think I've ever encountered such a right. Certainly, none of the classical thinkers would have thought that limiting information to only what you want to hear would somehow lead someone to arrive at the truth. Perhaps there are philosophers today who would believe such a thing, but I haven't read their works.

Nor have I encountered such a right in law. In fact, it seems contrary to much of the laws being passed in our legislatures which seem to insist endlessly that we be provided with warnings and information about a large number of things regardless of our desire to have that information. Numerous laws exist which require certain information to be forced on consumers before purchasing products. If you buy a bottle of alcohol or a package of cigarettes you have a surgeon general's warning about the effects of those substances right on the product labels. Doesn't having that information forced on you infringe on a "basic right" to "have the information you want to have"? What about "diversity training"? Doesn't that force you to listen to information you may not want to listen to? And who hasn't suffered through the endless disclaimers that are run in every advertisement for a new drug? Have you looked at a drug ad in a magazine lately? They're usually two pages long -- the first page is the advertisement and the second is the list of disclaimers and usage instructions. I don't necessarily want that information, but it certainly is being forced on me.

In fact, if you make a life or death decision without getting enough information you can be found guilty (depending of the context and the person making the decision) of manslaughter or malpractice or gross negligence.

Basically, Ms. Espy (and any other people who would adopt this position) simply want the woman to have the right to bury her head in the sand and ignore the facts. The fact is that the "fetus" is a living human being who, from very early, comes complete with little arms and legs and teeny little fingers and toes and a cute little nose and ears and a mouth and all of the other things that we normally find so cute in newborn babies. As ultrasound technology advances, it is going to become more and more apparent that the "fetus" is a living human being. To fight the obvious, the only courses of action left to abortion providers will be to argue that (1) a woman shouldn't see these ultrasounds (which they are apparently doing) or (2) the image from the sonogram is unreal in some significant respect. They are doing the first, and I expect the second to follow closely behind.


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