Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The champions of choice

From the files of the unbelievable and horrifying comes this story:

A doctor whose abortion clinic was described as a filthy, foul-smelling "house of horrors" that was overlooked by regulators for years was charged Wednesday with murder, accused of delivering seven babies alive and then using scissors to kill them.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell was also charged with murder in the death of a woman who suffered an overdose of painkillers while awaiting an abortion. [...]

Gosnell, 69, was arrested and charged with eight counts of murder in all. Nine of Gosnell's employees — including his wife, a cosmetologist who authorities say performed abortions — also were charged.

Prosecutors said Gosnell made millions of dollars over three decades performing thousands of dangerous abortions, many of them illegal late-term procedures. His clinic had no trained nurses or medical staff other than Gosnell, a family physician not certified in obstetrics or gynecology, prosecutors said.

At least two women died from the procedures, while scores more suffered perforated bowels, cervixes and uteruses, authorities said.

Under Pennsylvania law, abortions are illegal after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or just under six months, and most doctors won't perform them after 20 weeks because of the risks, prosecutors said.

One of the side effects of "choice" are clinics like Gosnell's. Why? Because every time laws and regulations are proposed which would involve regular inspections and oversight of abortion clinics, these proposed laws are denounced, overturned, or outright ignored by the champions of "choice."

Don't believe me? From the article:
State regulators ignored complaints about Gosnell and the 46 lawsuits filed against him, and made just five annual inspections, most satisfactory, since the clinic opened in 1979, authorities said. The inspections stopped completely in 1993 because of what prosecutors said was the pro-abortion rights attitude that set in after Democratic Gov. Robert Casey, an abortion foe, left office. [Emphasis added--E.M.]
So pro-abortion authorities decided to take a hands-off approach as Gosnell murdered babies who had been born alive--as many as a hundred, according to the article, though intact records were only discovered for the seven for whose murders Gosnell is being charged. Gosnell's clinic was allegedly making between ten and fifteen thousand dollars a day--earning the abortionist millions over the thirty or so years his abortion clinic was in the business of butchering human babies--the born and the unborn.

The champions of "choice" don't really like to consider consequences like those Gosnell is charged with committing; in fact, predictably, some commenters are already saying that the real blame should be placed on the state of Pennsylvania, whose laws prohibit abortions after 24 weeks of gestation (when the baby is about this big). But the reality is that the champions of "choice" are behaving illogically when they express outrage about Gosnell's method of killing babies; how is it murder to kill a baby whose head has fully emerged from the birth canal by jabbing a pair of scissors into her spine, but not murder to jab the same pair of scissors into the same spinal cord when the baby's head has only emerged halfway from her mother's body?

President Obama seemed to understand this, when he voted against the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. As he put it at the time, "...and that essentially adding an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion." Much easier to mandate only one doctor, who can then make sure that the woman gets what she paid for--a dead baby--instead of one who remains embarrassingly and inconveniently alive.

So, really, all of the outrage about Gosnell is about the filthy clinic, the allegation that he killed at least one woman through medical negligence, and the hair-splitting legal point that he waited ten seconds too long to go through the scissor-jabbing routine, instead of forcibly holding the babies heads inside the birth canals while he killed them in exactly the same way. If he'd done that, he wouldn't be guilty of anything but assisting "choice," and none of the champions of choice would have a problem with the babies'--oh, excuse me, fetuses'--deaths at all, right?


Barbara C. said...

Of course, this is what we are constantly told will happen if abortion is ever made illegal again---dirty knife, back alley abortions.

"But wait", says the pro-choicer,
"This was just an anomaly. Most abortion clinics aren't like this. Only a small percentage of clinics are like this."

Funny how that "small percentage" argument is dismissed when pro-lifers explain that only a small percentage of people ever turned to dirty abortions in the first place.

L. said...

Well, I am an ardent supporter of abortion (and I also oppose the Illinois Born-Alice Infants Protection Act, as well on any ban on partial birth abortion), and this particular story sickened me -- it makes a mockery of "choice." You'd have a hard time finding abortion proponents who would champion blatant medical malpractice.

Patrick said...

@ L.:

"You'd have a hard time finding abortion proponents who would champion blatant medical malpractice."

Medical malpractice? Medical malpractice?! Um...This guy *murdered* babies born alive. And at least one mother. That he wasn't a licensed obgyn is hardly the problem. That his office wasn't terribly sanitary; again *hardly* the problem.

Medical malpractice! (Sigh)

Red Cardigan said...

L., how does it make a mockery of choice? The women wanted dead babies. The doctor gave them dead babies. Their "choice" was fulfilled.

What's the problem?

L. said...

The two women who died of his malpractice -- were their "choices fulfilled? How about the ones the story said suffered "perforated bowels, cervixes and uteruses?" Was that their choice? And as far as killing newborns AFTER delivery, even I would say, once they're out of their biological mothers' bodies, there are better ways to dispose of them -- at least leave them in a dumpster for someone to find, and give them a fighting chance, you know?

This doctor no more represents a "champion of choice" than people who shoot abortion providers and blow up clinics represent "champions of the unborn."

priest's wife said...

so sad- even waiting until 20 weeks in Pennsylvania- that is a big baby (I had to deliver a 20-week baby miscarriage)

This is so evil- those babies might have even seen their killer

Jamie said...

"even I would say, once they're out of their biological mothers' bodies, there are better ways to dispose of them -- at least leave them in a dumpster for someone to find, and give them a fighting chance, you know?"

With all due respect, did you think about this sentence before you posted it? The coldness and dispassion is truly mind boggling. Let's see how it looks when you say it about the women who died: "Even I would say that women with botched abortions can be disposed of in easier ways, at least if you leave them hemorrhaging in the back alley, some hobo may have a chance of finding them."

L. said...

Jamie, I was being sarcastic. I do believe there are valid reasons for late-term abortions, but once a baby is born, out of the mother's body, those reasons are moot.

Deirdre Mundy said...

L. -- But if the reason a mother wanted an abortion was "I don't want to have a living child that I either care for or put up for adoption" WHY are those reasons moot?

What is so magical about the journey down the birth canal? On this side of the Cervix, it is a fetus, on that side, she is your daughter? Does ensoulment occur at crowning?

And, if so.... then does that mean that people born by C-section are fair game for killing?

c matt said...

You can try to reason with abortion supporters all day long, but in the end, it will do no good. Their support for abortion is not based upon logic, reason or the facts. It is simply based upon the force of will. Hence, the term "choice."

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...

Tone is so incredibly hard to read online and sarcasm, being the lowest form of wit, seems to be best employed with glaringly obvious markers identifying it's use. Which would, of course, defeats the purpose. Perhaps you should try simply arguing your views or presenting your points and beliefs for actual debate and discussion instead of your usual drive-by contrarianisms. There seem to be plenty of people here on both sides of the issues willing to engage in intelligent discussion.

L. said...

Do abortive women really submit to invasive minor surgery because they hate their babies and want them dead, or because they have some other reason for wanting the little ones out of their bodies? Who knows, maybe there are women out there who get pregnant on purpose, just because they enjoy killing the babies so much? Is that really what pro-life people think we pro-aborts are like? Right -- and go around burning toddlers with cigarettes, too, just to hear their cries of pain. That's really all we're about. Yes, I'm being sarcastic again.

And I was born by c-section myself, so I guess that makes me fair game.

Seriously, I fervently believe a woman should be able to remove anything from her body that she thinks threatens her health and well-being, even if it happens to be another developing human life. I think some women have abortions for frivolous reasons (but I'm sure there are people who think I use my contraception for frivolous reasons, too, but I accept that some people are going to disagree with my decisions about my own body).

The women in this bizarre case sound as if they were mostly poor and desperate, and their abortions were unlikely carried out with anything like informed consent. The article said some didn't even know their babies were viable -- it doesn't sound like a simple matter of, "Their mothers wanted them dead." It sounds like, "The doctor was criminally negligent and likely nutty." I mean, he kept a collection of baby feet....ick!

Anonymous said...

Go over to Jezebel and read the comments on this story if you get a chance. The "logic" being employed there will make your head spin.

L. said...

Charlotte, I'm not a "drive-by" -- if anything, I am illegally parked on this blog's lawn.

And I believe sarcasm is the highest form of wit (but I accept that some people are going to disagree with my decisions about my own way of communicating).

C Matt, my ardent faith in both abortion and contraception are indeed based upon the logic, reason of self-preservation, and the fact that I do not wish to grow other people inside my body, and would thefore never legally require another woman to do the same.

L. said...

I am seeing comments elsewhere in the blogosphere saying things like, there is no difference between snipping a newborn baby's spine with scissors and using contraception that might -- might! -- prevent an embryo from implanting.

No difference? Really? Planet Pro-life is nowhere I ever want to live....

Lindsay said...

Great article! I cannot figure the disconnect of what is considered outrageous. This is, but the president's arguing back in 2001 that babies surviving abortion should have NO protection under the law would make his actions towards these babies PERFECTLY LEGAL, was not outrageous??? It makes me want to weep. And this from people who are supposedly pro-life, but...

Red Cardigan said...

Well, L., fundamentally the baby is dead in either instance.

That's the point I think you want to ignore. You want women to be able to kill their unborn children--the rest is just details.

To be honest, I suspect you'd probably accept Peter Singer's criteria for killing "defective" newborns. Sure, the baby is no longer inside her mother, but she's just as much of a burden born as unborn, right?

You've said as much, here, about children. So why the magic dividing line between the birth canal and the ambient air?

c matt said...

I do not wish to grow other people inside my body

But you still wish to engage in the conduct that creates that possibility. In short, consequence free sex.

Again - the force of will.

Anonymous said...

Disregarding the issue of obvious malpractice and focusing on the gruesome details of the negligence and killings of newborns dilutes and distorts the inherent and obvious breach of medical practice.

The scenario is painted in the same as the back-alley clinic, with titillating horror-evoking images eviscerating living corpses, surely the doctor was simply going through the motions of the procedures because he was the one with the license.

Saying that the issue of laxity of medical regulations in this instance has anything to do with with the President allegedly said in 2001 is provocatively interesting, to say the least.

If there were patient complaints, they were ignored. Obviously state and local medical and health departments did not conduct proper inspections. (In my small city, even reviews of the local restaurant health department inspections are published in the local newspaper.)

Something more than rhetoric and local attitudes were involved in the wrongdoing in Pennsylvania.

I wouldn't be so quick to point the finger, because it could very well be argued that the attitude of 'deregulation', 'corporations can vote' and 'big money wins' trumps medical ethics.

Much as I would like to say that this is forewarning of what might happen under free-and-open availability of abortion clinics, or this is just about on par with PETA might argue for minimal abattoir standards; it was just plain wrong.


Jamie said...

Well, L, thank you for clarifying. However, as other people have pointed out, what exactly is it about in utero vs out of utero that makes such a huge difference? If we discover that the doctor snipped the spinal cord before the umbilical cord was snipped and while the placenta was still within the mother, do you believe that it was murder?

As for your sarcastic comments on mothers who receive abortion, you may be seeing insult where there is none. Of course it can be recognized that some women agonize about the decision. Likewise, it can be assumed that the majority of deadbeat dad and parents who lay hands upon their children are neither selfish nor sadistic, but we still have laws for child support and child protection. When a disadvantaged party is offered the protection of the law, we are not hoping that people will act according to their best nature instead of their worst.

I am not going to comment on your childfree views. As you have said, that is your business. However, why are you pro-abortion, rather than "pro-choice"? As you yourself have pointed out, it is an invasive procedure and several women have regretted their abortion afterward. The desired goal is: "safe, legal and *rare*", is it not? You say that you would not want to grow a child in your body, but how many women like the idea of having a pump or pair of scissors shoved up them? That's also violating the body.

L. said...

Jamie, I am pro-abortion rights, not pro-abortion per se. It should not be the default answer to every problem pregnancy -- I also know a few women who deeply regret their abortions, and should not have had them. Yes, "safe, legal and rare" -- and the circumstances of an unwated pregnancy are definitely worth avoiding, with proper and diligent use of contraception for those who have no moral qualms about it, and abstinence for those who do. I have never had an abortion myself -- they are risky, invasive, and worth avoiding.

C Matt, I've already said, very clearly, that I do believe in "free sex," that need not lead to unwanted babies. This is where contraception is a true blessing, for people like me.

Erin, you say, "You want women to be able to kill their unborn children--the rest is just details." Where you see "just details," I see the whole point. I see some good very reasons for ending pregnancies -- and especially for actively avoiding pregnancies in the first place.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

1) This doctor is plainly guilty of both murder and medical malpractice.

2) Those who define themselves as pro-life have certainly been known to try to impose the most onerous and expensive "regulations" possible in hopes of putting abortion beyond the financial reach of a large number of women.

3) Those who define themselves as pro-choice have certainly been known to oppose perfectly reasonable regulation, because any burden whatsoever on a woman choosing abortion over carrying her pregnancy to term is reflexively viewed as a threat. (Implicitly, this defines abortion as good, rather than choice as good).

4) There is a big difference between one side of the cervix and the other. On one side, coercive legislation is telling a woman to keep something growing inside her own body. On the other side, its not in her body anymore, so any concerned person could take responsibility to raise the baby, if mom doesn't wish to. That's why we have safe haven laws.

5) Notwithstanding the difference in (4), there are other factors (mentation, ability to survive IF "from the womb untimely torn," which justify prohibiting abortions after around week 20. It may have been a big miscarriage, but the fact that at week 20 pregnancy miscarried, rather than resulting in a live preemie, is significant.

LarryD said...

L. says Jamie, I am pro-abortion rights... and Yes, "safe, legal and rare"...

...if you believe in abortion rights, then why should abortion be rare? Safe and legal, sure - but why rare? What other rights do we have that should be rarely exercised? If that's what you truly believe, then abortion ought to be totally unrestricted, with no limits whatsoever to that right.

Perhaps you believe that better access to more contraception will lead to fewer abortions. Wrong - more contraception leads to more abortions. If you want abortions "rare" - then advocate for abstinence and fidelity in marriage. Because it's sex that leads to abortion, plain and simple. People who want unfettered, irresponsible sex -who fail to control their urges and desires, relying on unreliable contraceptive products - that's what leads to abortion.

Or why not go all the way and call for sterilizations of both men and women. But don't try to tell anybody that you support abortion rights but want abortion rare.

And abortion is never ever safe - especially for the child, and for the mother as well.

"Rare" my a** - pro-aborts don't want it rare. 1.2+ million abortions a year in this country alone isn't rare. "Rare" gives cover to the relativist.

L. said...

Well, this particular "pro-abort" wants abortion to be rare for exactly the same reason that I have avoided having one myself -- I have not wished to subject myself to the real medical risks of invasive minor surgery (nor to the much higher medical risks of unlimited repeat c-sections, for that matter). It's true that only abstinence is 100% effective against unwanted pregnancies, and it's also true that the mere availibility of the latter doesn't prevent pregnancies -- it must be used properly and diligently.

What other rights do I believe should be rarely exercised? The rights of a country to wage war against another, the right to kill another in person in self-defense come immediately to mind. They are also examples of situations which, like unwanted pregnancy, are best prevented in the first place.

L. said...

"But don't try to tell anybody that you support abortion rights but want abortion rare." -- > If this were the case, why am I not out there myself, having lots of abortions?

(And I do wish you hadn't mentioned your "a**." )

c matt said...

This is where contraception is a true blessing, for people like me.

We will just have to agree to disagree on that.

But assuming this "blessing" fails, then what? On to Plan B: Abortion? Regardless of the reasons for it, it is murder plain and simple. Just so happens it is a class of murder our legal system currently allows.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

LarryD, I once accompanied an elderly veteran to a VA hospital, where a doctor wanted to explain that his PSA level was slightly elevated, and ask if he'd like a biopsy. The biopsy procedure was explained, and he sensibly responded "No, I don't think I'd like to do that." He had a right to the procedure, but at his age, deciding to go ahead with it should be rare. He died of pneumonia a couple of years later. Whatever might have been in his prostate didn't have a chance to come close to being the cause of death.

We have many options available to us which are rare because there are good reasons NOT to make use of them, unless absolutely necessary. What defines absolutely necessary? That is up to the person concerned.

The issue in CHOICE is, who should decide, The State, or the woman concerned?

Your only logically consistent argument is, that's an independent human life inside the woman, she can't make a decision for it. I don't agree, not while it is inside her body and unable to live on its own if removed, but you demean your highest ground when you indulge in silly sniping with questions that have simple, direct answers.