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Are Babies Really People?
By Kirsten Andersen


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Last weekend was Mother’s Day. Despite Rodeph Shalom Day School’s principal’s best attempt to ban this ‘hate-filled’ holiday, most of us spent Sunday with our mothers, or at least on the phone with them, thanking them for not dumping us in a toilet somewhere when we were a few hours old to die a slow, agonizing, and lonely death.

Of course, I can thank my mother for considerably more than that, and I suspect anyone who is reading this column probably can too. In addition to waiting until she was a grown-up to have a child, my mother did me the favor of staying home to raise me until I was ten. Even now, across 3000 miles, she continues to allow me to call her at all hours of the day and night to ask for stupid favors and advice. Since I was conceived after Roe vs. Wade, the best I could have been hoping for as a young fetus was to not be ripped apart by a vacuum cleaner, but I really lucked out--not only did my mom allow my birth, she further allowed and even facilitated the continuation of my life for the past twenty-whatever years.

Contrast my experience with that of Angel Caliboso Ocampo, the newborn baby abandoned in a Delaware port-a-potty in March of last year. Baby Angel’s story as told in The Washington Post is horrifying not just for her death, but for the events leading up to and following it, including the Post article of May 6th, 2001.

The blame for Angel’s murder rests on no one but her parents—Abigail Caliboso and Jose Ocampo (of Virginia). It was Abigail and Jose who had sex too young. It was Abigail and Jose who deceived their families for nine months by hiding their growing baby. And it was Abigail and Jose who, on March 26th, 2000, drove their day-old infant girl to Delaware, stuck a pacifier in her tiny mouth, and abandoned her in a filthy outhouse at a construction site. That night the temperature dropped to 29 degrees, and little Angel Ocampo froze to death, defenseless and alone.

Angel’s death is the fault of her irresponsible and selfish parents, but the argument can be made that we all had a part in it. Society as a whole has made it exceedingly easy to throw away the lives of helpless infants, as illustrated perfectly by the Washington Post article, which painted Abigail and Jose as the victims in this tale. To read the Post story, one would think the two teens are facing unjust punishment due to their race (Filipino) and were just scared kids who were too stupid to kill their child before it was born (with an abortion).

I, like many in the media, cannot help but point out the chilling similarities between this and another baby abandonment case in Delaware in 1996. The two cases are eerie in their parallels, from the young, affluent perpetrators to the horrifying details of their crimes. The only difference is that this latest case happened four years after the first, and that Abigail Caliboso and Jose Ocampo knew what happens to parents who abandon their babies to die in Delaware--which is to say, basically nothing.

Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson, both of New Jersey, received two and a half and two years in prison, respectively, for leaving their baby to die in a Delaware dumpster five years ago. Of this ridiculously lax sentence, Delaware Attorney General M. Jane Brady said, "We had hoped that the sentence in Grossberg-Peterson would be an exception, not the norm for killing a baby in Delaware."

How Ms. Brady became Attorney General without becoming at least briefly acquainted with the idea of ‘precedent’ is beyond my comprehension, but it seems she has a situation on her hands. Irresponsible teenagers all over the mid-Atlantic region now know that Delaware is the place to go if you want to spend two years in prison instead of 18 years raising a child. You see, the original plea bargain was for five years in prison for each parent in the Caliboso-Ocampo case, but a judge has rejected that plea, insisting that the sentence is too harsh.

Yes, that’s right, folks--according to Judge Richard S. Gebelein, five years is too much time to spend in jail for the murder of a helpless infant, even--or perhaps especially--one’s own infant. Gebelein’s ruling has brought the proceedings in the Caliboso-Ocampo case to a standstill, and justice for baby Angel looks less likely every day. The real tragedy, though, is that babies are continually losing ground in the war of selfishness against them.

Late last year, the House passed the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. The fact that many abortion advocates opposed this legislation says much about their true priorities. The bill was given a human face by Ms. Jill Stanek, an Illinois nurse who testified before Congress about the conditions at Christ Hospital, where she once worked.

Ms. Stanek told of healthy second-trimester babies born alive during induced-labor abortions who were then callously left to die. She remembered one little girl who showed signs of thriving and lived for two and a half hours before passing away without medical care or a loving hand to hold. She admitted to cradling one Down’s Syndrome child in her arms for forty-five minutes until the baby died. Stanek begged lawmakers to pass the Act, which defines these survivors of abortion as ‘persons’ under the law, and therefore entitles them to the same medical care as any ‘wanted’ infant.

Abortion activists claimed that the legislation would put women’s ‘right’ to abort their children at risk. When a similar law was being debated at the state level in Illinois, Representative Julie Stanos (D) said, "What we are dealing with here is a law that substitutes the judgment of this second physician to that of the mom."

Well, excuse my sarcasm, but God forbid a medical professional decide whether or not a baby is really a baby. I guess six or more years of schooling is not enough to qualify someone to look at a tiny, squirming, crying human and say it’s an infant. Only the opinion of the ‘mother’ should count. I have as much psychological training as these ‘moms’ have medical training (i.e. NONE), but I think these women live in a state of delusion and actually believe that they define reality for the rest of us.

The day that we make it socially ‘okay’ to murder our little ones is the day we are no longer a civilized people. Unfortunately, that day arrived on January 22nd, 1973 with the advent of Roe v. Wade. Next week, I will tell you the stories of the most helpless among us, and why we must fight for their lives as we would fight for our very own.

© Kirsten Andersen, 2001

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