There’s no point in getting hysterical over Gov. Janet Napolitano’s veto of the bill that would have mandated a 24-hour wait before a woman could go ahead with an abortion.
There are arguments on either side of the question, and sincere people should be able to disagree without demonizing each other.
The other day this paper weighed in on the side of allowing just a bit more time, just a bit more reflection, before a woman takes a step that permanently affects her own life and that forever removes her unborn child from the realm of the living. Napolitano, in vetoing the measure, said the bill "represents undue government intrusion into the relationship between a woman and her doctor, her family, her religious counselor, or whomever else she wishes to consult in making this most difficult of personal and medical decisions."
As a newspaper whose core beliefs lean strongly in the direction of limiting government and protecting individual rights, we are not insensitive to that argument. But some were ready to paint Napolitano in a red suit, with horns sprouting from her forehead and pitchfork in hand, after she made her decision.
"The governor put the profits of the abortion industry ahead of the health needs of women" in issuing the veto, in the words of Kathi Herrod, lobbyist for the Center for Arizona Policy. That was the group that filled Arizona’s airwaves with TV ads last week urging folks to call the governor’s office in support of the bill. As the ads aired, Republican leaders in the Legislature took the unusual step of delaying delivery of the bill so pro-lifers could have their say.
That the governor did not cave to the pressure perhaps says something about the quality of her leadership. While elected officers must respect the will of the people, they can’t bend in the face of every orchestrated breeze. Their own core values must guide their decision-making, for they know that every decision they make will be criticized, if not excoriated, by some of their constituents. Yes, listen to the people, but to thine own self be true.
That having been said, we reiterate our belief that requiring a 24-hour waiting period for this particular operation, in addition to all the deliberations that go into seeking it in the first place, would serve notice that the people of Arizona value human life.
For that, in addition to the mother’s health and welfare, is what is at stake. What is growing inside a prospective mother is incontrovertibly human, even if it is not "viable" in the sense of being able to survive outside the womb. Even newborns are non-viable without the protective care of parents and others; ability to survive on one’s own, without help, ought not be the criterion by which the worth of a life is measured.
Requiring a 24-hour wait might well save some women from the extreme regret that can engulf them later when they realize what was lost. The bill was noble in intent and would have been sound public policy. But while that particular measure is lost, perhaps the debate itself has elevated Arizona’s regard for the wondrous thing we call life.