This commentary appeared online March 7 on the website of The Monitor, newspaper of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey. It was written by EmmaLee Italia, a contributing editor of the paper and a freelance writer and designer.

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To Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, I request the following: Explain yourselves.
Explain to the people of the state of New Jersey, and the United States at large, why you elected to vote “no” on the Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act.

Try to convince those you claim to represent why your representation doesn’t extend to the youngest American citizens — because babies born alive following a botched abortion are just that: American citizens, endowed with the same rights as those carried into this world willingly and happily.

I don’t believe you will be able to explain yourselves, because the argument — that a “woman’s right to choose” includes the right to snuff the life of her newborn — is built on a house of cards, and is built on fear.

Citizenship and rights aren’t granted to a person based upon whether he or she is wanted by someone else in this country. You need only be born here, the same as a child of an undocumented immigrant. And as a citizen, all children are afforded the right to live — regardless of who wants them.

I believe you are afraid, senators, that if you were to acknowledge the humanity of the born alive child — with equal rights and protection under the law — you would also have to acknowledge that the same child was alive and viable just moments before in its mother’s womb. And that makes the argument for late-term abortion much, much harder. I believe, senators, that you are afraid of upsetting your constituents.

I believe that in order to vote against the protection of infants, you had to convince yourself many times over that the tiny person in question is not, in fact, a person — because if you did admit to what your soul already knows to be true, you and others who voted against this act would have to admit your shared cooperation in the extermination of countless citizens.

How can we reduce the life of another person to a mere discussion between a physician and a mother? Furthermore, how does the elimination of that life equal women’s health care? The baby has already been born; its existence does not pose any physical threat to the mother. Even the obligation to care for the child can be removed through adoption, giving the baby to one of the 1 million to 2 million couples and individuals seeking a child (source: AdoptionCouncil.org).

Your “no” vote reveals a dangerous thought pattern emerging in our society: that the rights of one individual can override the life of an innocent. It is an egregious, self-serving, narcissistic point of view to presume that our behaviors don’t have consequences. There are certain behaviors that lead to pregnancy, and people who aren’t willing to accept the life created as a result shouldn’t be allowed to resort to murder as a solution.

Who determines the value of a life, anyway? Doesn’t Thomas Jefferson deem it “inalienable” in the Declaration of Independence? And John Locke knew as much in the 1600s when he wrote his “Two Treatises of Government.”

If a mother and doctor should have the “right” to allow an infant to die of starvation on a hospital table, why stop there? What about those who are burdened financially and psychologically by their parenting role – why shouldn’t we allow them the same “rights?” In fact, as long as a child is in a parent’s care as a minor, they’re really not self-sufficient — they’re terribly expensive and unable to contribute financially — so why shouldn’t their caregivers have the “right” to quietly destroy them before they turn 18?

Because it’s murder. Because you can’t murder innocent American citizens. Because God forbids it. And because a society that kills its offspring is destined for extinction.

Sen. Menendez — you have authored numerous acts to keep children safe from child abuse, abduction and online threats. You have also supported autism research, student athlete safety and enforcement of child support collections. Clearly you want kids to be protected from evils in our society — so why does that protection not extend to the most vulnerable children: infants whose very lives are threatened?

Sen. Booker — you said during your Feb. 1 announcement to run for the U.S. presidency in 2020, “I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind … where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins.”

Really? Exactly which children are deemed worthy of protection from such a fate? How will the criminal justice system protect them if doctors and mothers are allowed under the law to let them die? And who is worthy to decide which children will die and which will live… elected officials?

Your weekly podcast is entitled “Lift Every Voice” — but there are many voices going unheard.

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