Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Long Time No See

Well Hello There!

I know that some (most) of will see this on your Google Buzz and wonder why the heck you are paying attention to Google Buzz, anyway, so let me issue a warning: this post is about abortion and contains no original content. However, it is a highly informative and compelling article that I'm not sure any of you would see if I did not put it up on this, my limited forum.

For anyone who has perused this blog for the entirety of its existence, you will no doubt remember my post containing original content about the subject long ago, when I knew far less than I know now. Come to think of it, maybe I should re-read it and change it up a little bit because it might be embarrassing for its simplicity and self-aggrandizement (nevermind, its still here and unaltered, warts and all).

I will be discussing this article by Matthew Franck at National Review.

The Gosnell Case and American Abortion Law
Will abortion-rights advocates continue to defend the current regime?

On January 14, just eight days before the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, a Philadelphia grand jury issued a 261-page report on the horrifying career of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist whose West Philadelphia “Women’s Medical Society” it described as a “baby charnel house.” For decades, Gosnell ran a squalid abortion clinic, violating every conceivable norm of law and medicine by anyone’s standards, from the merely bad (almost nonexistent record-keeping and unlicensed clinic staff), to the truly appalling (employing unsanitary equipment and horribly injuring many of the women who came to him). Two women died in Gosnell’s “care,” and he and two of his staff are charged with third-degree murder in the death of one of them, Karnamaya Mongar.

Over the years, Gosnell specialized more and more in late-term abortions, and his preferred method in cases of the most advanced pregnancies was to induce labor in the women who came to him. What resulted in hundreds of cases was a live birth. And thus the issue that has garnered the most attention to the Gosnell case: The doctor is charged with murdering seven babies born alive in his clinic, whom he, or one of his staff under his direction, killed in the first minutes of their post-natal lives by “snipping” their spinal cords (that was the doctor’s own word for it) with scissors at the neck. The grand jury is morally certain there were many hundreds of “snipping” victims, but these seven are the only ones of whose deaths there is solid evidence today.

The women who came to Gosnell’s clinic — poor and desperate, late in their pregnancies, and willing for whatever reason to endure the horrors of his ministrations — wanted to be rid of their babies. This result he provided them. But it is difficult to locate the moral difference between the deaths Gosnell brought about in utero and those he accomplished post-natally. Does an unborn child at 26 weeks of fetal development have less moral standing than a born child at 25 weeks of fetal development? Does the latter’s living and breathing outside the womb for ten minutes, or ten seconds, confer a status that the former lacks? How can that be?

This is the absurd moral corner into which the Supreme Court backed us in 1973. Not that it bothered Dr. Gosnell. He was in the getting-rid-of-babies business, and no one was going to be sent home with a live one. Viewed in a coldly rational light, the doctor’s logic was admirably consistent: before birth, after birth, it made no difference.


But in 22 years, not one prosecution has occurred under this provision of Pennsylvania law. Until now. In the Gosnell prosecution, Philadelphia district attorney R. Seth Williams has a choice. Does he go forward with the 33 counts of “illegal late-term abortion” (a fraction of the actual number of such abortions Gosnell performed, but all that can be solidly proven under a two-year statute of limitations) — as well as the eight murder charges? Or does he quietly drop them?

And if he does charge Dr. Gosnell with illegal abortions as well as murder, abortion-rights advocates such as NARAL and Planned Parenthood have a choice. Do they continue to agitate for the regime of abortion on demand that they’ve been defending for 38 years? Do they fold this particular hand, and concede that some abortions occur too late to be permitted at all? There is danger for them in this. If a viable unborn child has a right to life, what about the one just a week or a day shy of viability? And the one just a bit younger than that?

Abortion-rights advocates will be right to sense that the stakes are all or nothing. But do they want Dr. Kermit Gosnell to be the face of the legal order to which they have devoted their energies for four decades?

— Matthew J. Franck is director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J.

I skipped the middle because I'm lazy and I want everyone to read the end. It appears the slippery slope of defining the moment that life begins might be tilted the other way if the prosecution in this case decides to address the abortions committed in utero.

See you next year!

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