California, AB 154, and the Culture of Death

It is truly a sad sign of the times when a state provides more protection to animals that undergo abortions than to human beings. Currently, California mandates that only a certified veterinary surgeon is allowed to perform abortions on animals. What strange irony that a pregnant female housecat is considered more important and worthy of protection under the laws of California than a pregnant human female. With the passage of AB 154 into law, we are now witnessing California’s further legal entrenchment into the Culture of Death.

Before AB 154, only a licensed physician could perform abortions in California. Now nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants will be allowed to perform invasive abortion procedures. This is risky business considering they posses neither the expertise nor education to perform such surgeries.

What are the ramifications of this unprecedented legislation? When this legislation is enacted, it will allow unskilled practitioners to perform suction aspiration abortions. This puts women at even greater risk than before. This procedure uses a cannula (a hollow plastic tube attached to a suction machine) that is inserted into the uterus and, even when performed by a trained professional, there is a danger that the women may suffer from a lacerated or even perforated uterus (cf. abortionfacts.com). Furthermore, infection can result if the remains of the child are not completely removed. As a result, it can be readily said that this will lead to more “botched” abortions and more injured women since professionals will be performing this procedure that have little to no training.

But there’s a remaining question—why would California, the bastion of so-called abortion rights, enact such legislation? State Senator Christine Kehoe, the key author of a similar bill, acknowledged that the purpose of her bill was to help with the shortage of abortionists within the state. Now this is intriguing. Why the shortage, especially in light of the fact that other states are literally legislating the abortion industry out of business?

Though a recent Time Magazine  article stated there’s a whole generation of young female doctors who are replacing the older abortionists, it seems retiring abortionists are simply not being replaced in California. So why push this type of legislation? It appears that pro-abortion forces are not being entirely honest. The number of new doctors who want to practice abortion still isn’t enough to replace retiring abortionists.

What is being witnessed in California is the refusal of proponents of the Culture of Death to accept the reality that the abortion industry is dying. Both the pro-life and pro-abortion movements have been aware that the number of abortionists has been steadily declining for quite some time. As a result, pro-abortion forces have tried other tactics throughout the years to combat this reality. One initiative was to force medical schools to teach abortion techniques to all students. Thankfully this never received traction. Many medical schools do not want to deal with the politics associated with abortion nor do they want to deal with the high insurance costs associated with an active abortion practice.

This is an intriguing phenomenon given what Pope John Paul II stated in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, “when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality” (no. 73).

Pro-life legislation from other states is having some effect, even in California. Many states have been successfully enacting legislation in recent years that has closed down much of the abortion industry in their states. In addition to abortionists retiring, society is witnessing former abortionists going into morally legitimate medical practice.

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These restrictions, in turn, have further impacted the perception of abortion as a medical practice, even within the medical community itself. Ann Scheidler has noted, “many doctors want respectability among their peers and friends and so they don’t want to stoop to that level.” As a result, few desire to fill the vacancies of retiring abortionists in California. California is feeling the squeeze of the Culture of Life even though it is resisting through pro-abortion legislation that expands the pool of potential abortionists.

Unfortunately for California, they’ve decided to put women in further danger by enacting legislation that is unreasonable and increases the risks for women who (tragically) choose abortion. When those who are undertrained or untrained in surgery are given license to perform the invasive abortion procedure we can expect complications and the number of deaths to rise. California pro-life advocates have a long road ahead of them when it comes to helping usher in a Culture of Life in their state. Pro-life Californians should be pleased, however, that other states are helping weaken the abortion industry as a whole in the United States. Those effects can still be felt, even in the likes of California, the state where female cats are more respected than human women.

Joe Kral has been involved in the pro-life movement since he has been in college.  His MA in Theology was completed at the University of St. Thomas where he specialized in bioethics.  From 1996-2003 he was the Legislative Director for Texas Right to Life.  During that time he was also a lobbyist for the Department of Medical Ethics at National Right to Life.  From 2004-2007 he consulted the Texas Catholic Conference on pro-life legislative initiatives.   In 2006 he was awarded the “Bishop’s Pro-Life Award for Civic Action” from the Respect Life Ministry in the Diocese of Dallas.  He currently serves as a voluntary legislative advisor to Texas Alliance for Life, is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, taught as an adjunct professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas, teaches as a Forward Toward Christian Ministry instructor for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and is doing doctoral studies at Harrison Middleton University where he is specializing in the ethical and legal theory of St. Thomas Aquinas. He has been married to his wife, Melissa, since 2004 and they have 2 children together. They attend St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Sugar Land.
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