Kristi Burton has been tight-lipped about the legal implications of Amendment 48. She’s admitted she wants to ban “abortion on demand,” but she hasn’t discussed related issues, such as criminal penalties, birth control, and fertilization treatments.
At least she has offered one more minor detail about her take on the measure:
“Doctors should be able to decide which life they can save,” she said. “If she were to die, the baby would die, too. It should be up to the mother and family and the doctor to save the life that can be saved instead of letting both die.”
But that statement is hardly revealing. Burton again dodges the real questions.
Obviously, if the pregnant woman and the egg/embryo/fetus certainly would die without treatment, saving one “person” is better than losing two. But medical choices rarely involve such clear-cut risks.
Notably, Burton outright admits that it might be possible to save the fetus and kill the woman. Is that not the meaning of the statement, “Doctors should be able to decide which life they can save”? If a fertilized egg is arbitrarily declared a person, legally its life must be weighed against the life of the pregnant woman.
According to some opponents of abortion, not even an ectopic pregnancy necessarily threatens the very life of the mother. See page 10 of the paper by Diana Hsieh and me. In other cases, such as cancer treatment, the mother wouldn’t necessarily die prior to child birth, so her ability to get treatment would depend also on its impact on the egg/embryo/fetus.
The upshot is that doctors would be legally bound — subject to criminal prosecution — to weigh the life of the fertilized egg against the life of the woman, in all cases in which death of the woman were not a certainty. Because such decisions would be second-guessed by prosecutors and the courts, doctors often would err on the side of inaction. The inevitable result would be more deaths of women. As Diana and I summarize, “Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life.”