Column: What the NYC abortion law truly means
The division of pro-life and pro-choice regarding the abortion law lies within its main case: should it be legal for women to have an abortion in the third trimester?
On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, New York passed a new law further protecting reproductive rights in the event the previous case may be overturned. The law, passed on January 22, 1973, meant to prevent abortion incrimination or restrictions. This law not only aimed to protect the women’s decision to have an abortion but the life and well-being of the fetus and the mother. This law now extends into the third trimester where most state regulations made having an abortion past “fetal viability” illegal.
In New York, abortion is legal if the abortion occurs before the 24th week of pregnancy, if the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s well-being, and in extreme cases, their life, or during an absence of fetal viability, or the capability for the child to survive outside the womb. The first two points merely codify Roe v. Wade, the last one is the newest condition. With the passage of this law, misconceptions soon followed. In a tweet by Laura Ingraham, conservative host and radio talk star, she posted an image:
She captioned and tagged this image with “Truth.” #infanticide.
While media often utilizes ethos, pathos and logos, the repercussions of such tactics can lead to misinformation. To breakdown the image, pathos, the emotional appeal is seen in the use of a smiling-living-baby. Here lies the first misconception.
The last case in the New York law states that an abortion is legal when there is an absence of fetal viability or the fetus does not have the ability to survive outside of the womb. At roughly 37-42 weeks, an abortion would not be performed on a healthy, viable baby. The only exception to this time frame is if the fetus is diagnosed with lethal anomalies. Meaning that the child would have no chance of surviving once emerged from the womb. At this point, if the mother’s health is not at risk in giving birth, the mother can choose to either have an abortion or give birth to the inviable fetus.
Lethal anomalies include, but are not limited to: major cardiac, skeletal and cranio-facial anomalies along with vital organ malfunctions. These anomalies would result in fetal death before or shortly after birth. For example, anencephaly, which is the absence of the brain and cranium above the base of the skull leads to death either before or soon after birth. The statistics for the time frame are 7 percent prenatal deaths, 20 percent die during birth, 50 percent may live from up to a few hours to one day and 23 percent live past one day.
Furthermore, the ability to detect these anomalies often happens past 22 weeks, just two weeks past the most common limit on abortions. The image tweeted implies that the baby was full-term and healthy, both of which do not satisfy the limits of the new case. If the child were completely viable and in the process of being born, an abortion would not be performed.
Ethos and Pathos
Note the language used in the image. “In New York, it is perfectly legal to murder me at 12:05.”
Murder is the specific word, meant to evoke a visceral reaction from the audience. The connotative associations with the word create a sense of immoral, illegal, and evil doing. However, by definition, one cannot kill someone who has already died.
The use of possessive language “I” and “me” is, again, meant to evoke an empathetic reaction to the child. This is a persuasive technique.
The importance of context in media is to prevent the spread of misinformation. While an important tool for persuasion and marketing, the ease of social media makes the spread of potentially false and biased information easier, creating “echo chambers” where audiences will reflect the same ideas and beliefs off one another and creates confirmation bias, where the audience is comfortable in their own opinions where they don’t feel the need to back up claims with evidence. With Twitter and politics, the polarizing debates become evident in viral threads.
Check statistics, check sources, check yourself.
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