Column: The Tragedy of the Postborn

The shock and horror of another school shooting is still fresh in our minds as we wait for our government to do something to protect other children from being murdered by another gunman. With mass shootings occurring more than once a week this year, it takes the slaughter of 19 elementary school students and 2 of their teachers to penetrate our national insensitivity. This shooting was different from most. The children were not targeted because they were of a particular skin color, religion or ethnic origin. The gunman had no apparent connection to the facility that he entered for this massacre. His sole motivation appears to have been a desire to kill children.

He will of course be described as a “lone wolf” predator whose actions could not have been anticipated, but we Americans know from recent experience that he was one of thousands eager to kill and one of millions enabled in their exercise of malicious power by special interests that leave our schools, entertainment venues, shopping centers, and houses of worship vulnerable to the evil people among us. After decades of abiding by gun manufacturers’ interpretations of the second amendment of the Constitution, our spineless legislators are being hounded by the screams of horrified parents shouting, “Enough.” If you cannot protect our children, look for other employment.

We have heard enough ridiculous explanations. There is always a good reason why a father’s birthday gift of a semiautomatic weapon to his 16 year old, violence-prone son makes sense. We are told that the Constitution protects the right of every American to purchase hundreds of rounds of ammunition for undisclosed purposes. That we should accept the open carry of a firearm by a member of Congress onto the floor of the House of Representatives is actually being advocated by some of our elected officials. We suspect that some of our government leaders are on a variety of prescription and illicit drugs, but doesn’t decorum mandate that they at least pretend to be sober?

Nearly a century ago, the humorist Will Rogers joked that we should be grateful that we do not get all the government that we pay for. That we do not get the quality or quantity of government services that we pay for is no longer a joke. For all that we pay to state and federal governments, we get appalling services and facilities. We have a healthcare system that falls into chaos whenever challenged by an epidemic. We have quality control systems in place to oversee food production and drug licensing that repeatedly fail to deliver safe food and effective drugs. We have public schools that provide little more than daycare for students in impoverished school districts. We have marketplaces that provide nothing resembling a level playing field or a competitive environment. And most frustrating of all, we have dangerous streets, housing, playgrounds, schools, etc.

As more than half of the states in America rush to protect fertilized eggs, our children are left on their own to deal with well-armed jerks. These fertilized eggs and fetuses have recently acquired a new designation: the preborn.  According to many state legislators, these “preborn’”individuals have an inalienable right to develop in the uterus of any woman they by chance might inhabit. The woman has no right to discharge this unwanted, unplanned, or criminally installed preborn. This means that most methods of birth control that would prevent these unwanted pregnancies will necessarily be deemed illegal. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) interfere with the implantation of fertilized eggs and embryos into the uterine wall: consequently, they must be illegal. Morning-after pills act in a similar manner and undoubtedly will be outlawed as well. The end result of all this protection for the preborn, whether it be a consequence of rape, incest, or birth control failure, is that the woman carrying the fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no right to choose when, with whom, or how often she has children.

Texas and copycat states have devised laws that guarantee no legal abortions are performed within their borders. Private citizens are effectively deputized and rewarded for alerting officials to activities that facilitate or effectuate an abortion. The irony, in light of the most recent school shooting, is apparently lost on the state legislators so eager to protect the preborn.  An individual who tips off the police to a probable abortion gets a monetary reward; the individual who tips off the police to a potential mass murderer may get a certificate of appreciation. The teenager who requests 300 rounds of ammunition and posts on social media that he plans to kill people is exercising his right to privacy and freedom of speech. The woman who calls for a taxi to take her to a clinic that might provide an abortion is likely to end up on a state watchlist for potential criminal activity.

There is no real reward, other than personal satisfaction, in identifying those who present a real threat to our children. State and federal officials who have kowtowed to the gun manufacturers for decades announced within 24 hours of the school murders that nothing they could do would have kept this atrocity from happening. Really? After thousands of our children have been murdered by people with largely unrestricted access to firearms (and ammunition and body armor and other military equipment), our elected officials cannot think of a way to reduce the slaughter. They should look at measures adopted in most industrialized nations that protect children from indiscriminate assassins by restricting access to firearms. Alternatively, they could just resign and make room in Congress and statehouses for Americans with spines and commonsense.

The preborn in these abortion-banning states will receive public and private protection until they are born.  At that point, these states, many of which have the lowest ranking public healthcare and educational systems in the country, will provide little in the way of tangible services or protection.  The “postborn” are on their own.

The pandering of state and federal officials to gun manufacturers and associations that generously subsidize their election and re-election campaigns is killing our children. Every elected official with so little brain function that he or she cannot think of a way to protect our children without turning every school, movie theater, shopping mall, house of worship, and apartment building in America into a military post should be replaced. If we do not rid ourselves of these men and women who are reading scripts written by gun manufacturers, we shall all die of grief.

Dr. Lechtenberg is an Easton resident who graduated from Tufts University and Tufts Medical School in Massachusetts and subsequently trained at The Mount Sinai Hospital and Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan.  He worked as a neurologist at several New York Hospitals, including Kings County and The Long Island College Hospital, while maintaining a private practice, teaching at SUNY Downstate Medical School, and publishing 15 books on a variety of medical topics. He worked in drug development in the USA, as well as in England, Germany, and France.

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