(Sensitive readers might want to skip this one.)
This morning I'm getting ready to head down to the Texas State Capitol, where the Senate will consider a bill that would, among other things, ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation. While I was getting ready, I happened to peruse the chatter on Twitter, and I came across this picture of members of the House Representatives who oppose the bill. As you can see if you click through, it's a powerful shot of stern-looking politicians, holding coat hangers to symbolize their stance in favor of keeping these procedures legal. The picture is being shared all over Austin social media circles, since it is perceived to symbolize the tragedy that will befall women if this bill passes.
There's a big problem with this image, though. Certainly nobody on the pro-choice side wants to acknowledge it, and I hate to speak of it either. But in the interest of getting the truth on the table, it must be said:
Coat hangers wouldn't kill these babies if these procedures were made illegal.
The pro-choice side wants their hangers to shout the message, "This is what women will have to resort to if this bill passes!" But the reality is that, if a woman wants to terminate the life of her child well into the second trimester, she would need to use something a lot bigger and more powerful than a coat hanger.
When my youngest child was born three months ago, he ended up spending two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I spent day after day surrounded by babies who were roughly the same age as the babies whose lives are being debated in the Senate today. They may have been smaller than full-term newborns, but they were tough little boys and girls, and they fought for their lives like champions. Unlike babies at younger ages, their lives would not be dispatched quickly with a thin piece of metal. It would be a grisly process, one that required tools that we more closely associate with the word "murder."
A coat hanger represents the taking of a life that is very small. The death of NICU-aged babies would be better represented by a sturdy knife, or, since suffocation is one method of getting rid of these children after they've been delivered, perhaps a noose could offer a rough analogy.
I don't have a problem with people who support abortion waving symbols to represent their position; I'm a fan of free speech as much as the next person. But if the bill's opponents have any interest in being honest with themselves about what they're really supporting, they'll put away the coat hangers for this one, and choose an instrument of death that more closely replicates what it takes to kill these babies when it's not done by doctors.