Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Conundrum of Kermit Gosnell for Pro-Choicers

What do Kermit Gosnell and pro-life activists have in common?

Baby feet. They're worth something to each. But what that is—well, the difference is as stark as night and day.

Pro-life people often wear pins shaped like the well-formed feet of 10-week-old fetuses to demonstrate the lie that babies in the womb are merely clumps of tissue.

Kermit Gosnell prefers the real things—that is, the actual, severed feet of fetuses. God knows why—the prosecutor of Gosnell's case speculates that they are trophies of some kind. In case you're only just now hearing about it, Gosnell is on trial for the murder of seven babies and one woman at his abortion clinic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now that he's finally heard of the story, Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic gives a rundown of the case so far (and why it should be on the front page):

Inducing live births and subsequently severing the heads of the babies is indeed a horrific story that merits significant attention. Strange as it seems to say it, however, that understates the case.

For this isn't solely a story about babies having their heads severed, though it is that. It is also a story about a place where, according to the grand jury, women were sent to give birth into toilets; where a doctor casually spread gonorrhea and chlamydiae to unsuspecting women through the reuse of cheap, disposable instruments; an office where a 15-year-old administered anesthesia; an office where former workers admit to playing games when giving patients powerful narcotics; an office where white women were attended to by a doctor and black women were pawned off on clueless untrained staffers. Any single one of those things would itself make for a blockbuster news story. Is it even conceivable that an optometrist who attended to his white patients in a clean office while an intern took care of the black patients in a filthy room wouldn't make national headlines?

But it isn't even solely a story of a rogue clinic that's awful in all sorts of sensational ways either. Multiple local and state agencies are implicated in an oversight failure that is epic in proportions! If I were a city editor for any Philadelphia newspaper the grand jury report would suggest a dozen major investigative projects I could undertake if I had the staff to support them. And I probably wouldn't have the staff. But there is so much fodder for additional reporting.

There is, finally, the fact that abortion, one of the most hotly contested, polarizing debates in the country, is at the center of this case. It arguably informs the abortion debate in any number of ways, and has numerous plausible implications for abortion policy, including the oversight and regulation of clinics, the appropriateness of late-term abortions, the penalties for failing to report abuses, the statute of limitations for killings like those with which Gosnell is charged, whether staff should be legally culpable for the bad behavior of doctors under whom they work...

There's just no end to it.

For just a moment, let's leave aside some of the lurid details about this story and look at the issue of what Gosnell routinely did at his clinic. He is alleged to have frequently performed illegal late-term (past 24 weeks) abortions, often by causing a live birth and killing the infant afterward with a snip to the spinal cord. The Alisa Snow/Planned Parenthood controversy of late showed anew that pro-abortion people (like our president) are okay with deciding to kill a baby born alive during abortion, as long as it's between the woman and her physician. Planned Parenthood, backing away from the position in a show of upholding the law, called such an event as a live birth during abortion "extremely unlikely."

Unless that's the way you do abortions. Testimony in trial puts the number of babies killed at Gosnell's clinic over 100. That would put him in the top five serial killers in US history by victim count, according to this graphic post by Jill Stanek. Terry Moran of Nightline calls him "probably the most successful serial killer in the history of the world" (H/T Hot Air).

It's those lurid details—bloody conditions, disease, racism—that lead Moran and others to say such things. gives a point-by-point of the top atrocities revealed by the trial. Steel your stomach and read them.

Why would anyone choose to get an abortion—I mean, health care—at a horrible place like Gosnell's clinic? A partial answer is that many of them didn't. But they were "served" anyway. One woman, a minor at the time who was forced to the clinic and should have been protected by several mechanisms of the law from an unwanted abortion, was instead physically wrestled and drugged into it. Another woman changed her mind after seeing the conditions but the staff ignored her, sedated her, and aborted her child.

Some pro-choicers rightly denounce the Gosnell debacle as a grotesque caricature of health care, an exploitation of the disadvantaged, the antithesis of choice. But, as pro-choicers, they maintain that, even if abortion is not what they would choose, it's a legitimate choice that must be kept available. Meg McArdle writes about the dilemma of the pro-choice media:
Moreover, surely those of us who are pro-choice must worry that this will restrict access to abortion: that a crackdown on abortion clinics will follow, with onerous white-glove inspections; that a revolted public will demand more restrictions on late-term abortions; or that women will be too afraid of Gosnell-style crimes to seek a medically necessary abortion. 
The problem is that that's exactly the mentality that enabled the horrors of Gosnell's operation. The grand jury report indicates that "officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions." Meg McArdle speaks honestly when she says that legal abortion is necessary for this to have happened. "Gosnell was able to harm so many women and babies because he operated in the open." Indeed, as says, "Back Alley Abortions Are Now on Main Street."

Some pro-choice people ignore Gosnell because (Jill Stanek again):
Truth be told, I don’t think these people consider abortion survivors as real people – or Gosnell a mass murderer.

Calling Gosnell a “mass murderer” for completing abortions outside the uterus brings them too close to pro-lifers who call abortionists mass murderers for completing abortions just a few inches the other way.

Yes, geography is an added problem for abortion supporters in this case. Being argued during the Gosnell trial is whether babies were legally aborted inside the uterus, or illegally murdered outside – and likely within a 30-second window of time. This sort of conversation makes the other side run.
The difference between a fetus inside the womb and an infant outside it is arbitrary. The problem for pro-choicers is, so is the difference between a 10-week-old fetus and a 24-week-old fetus. They either lie to themselves that it is not, or they lie to us that it doesn't matter either way.  No surprise. The abortion industry and advocates have for decades used euphemism, redirection, and outright deception to convince otherwise decent people that abortion is a good, or at least a necessary thing.

But the Gosnell case may force eyes open. Lord God, may it be so.

Image credit: Dora Pete

Monday, April 1, 2013

ROW80 Rules are rules

... so I'm stating a writing goal for the next 80 days and linking to the roundup. It's a private goal, won't be much to talk about, but the folks say I need to write it up all the same. So for the sake of harnessing the power of the bandwagon, here's my goal: to write at least one journal entry for every day of the round. I have several journals—dream journal, book journal, personal journal, etc.—but this exercise is limited to one kind of journaling only: my kids' journals, which I have been sorely neglecting for years.

Good luck, all you fellow ROWers!


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