Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's pretty pathetic

Some good news on the local pro-life front:

Abortion practitioner Neal Adam Poch has quit doing abortions at a Fort Worth, Texas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic and local pro-life advocates say a new pro-life law the state legislature approved is the reason why.

Jeff Williams, the coordinator for 40 Days for Life in the large northern Texas city says Poch quit his post as a Planned Parenthood abortion practitioner on Saturday. He credits the new law requiring abortion practitioners to give women considering an abortion the opportunity to see the ultrasound they perform beforehand with prompting Poch to stop doing abortions.

“The abortionist that has been performing abortions at Planned Parenthood is 75 years old and he lives in Tyler, Texas,” Williams said. “For about 13 years he has driven from Tyler to Fort Worth weekly to perform abortions. With the new requirements of the law, his work load has nearly doubled in having to perform the ultrasounds on Wednesdays and Thursday morning early enough in the day to allow for 24 hours before they kill the babies on abortion days. With the significant increase in workload, the abortionist was unwilling to put forth the additional effort to continue killing babies in Fort Worth.”

“Dr. Neal Adam Poch has performed his last abortion,” he said. “And although Planned Parenthood will likely replace him, it is most likely that there will be no abortions at Planned Parenthood in Fort Worth this week. And that is an answer to many of our prayers.” [...]

Williams says Poch didn’t stop doing abortions because he had a change of heart on abortion, but said, “He quit because of the inconvenience pressed upon him by a change in the law.”

For those who don't know this area, Fort Worth and Tyler are about 130 miles apart--a two hour drive and then some, on most days, given traffic conditions. For a 75-year-old doctor to drive this distance weekly just to kill babies at the local abortion mill is rather disgusting, if you ask me, and so I'm glad that the new law inconveniences him enough to make him quit.

I'd be happier if this man were to realize the horror of what he's been doing, of course. But if there's a lapse in services for a while at this local abortion mill, meaning that babies won't die there until Planned Parenthood can find a replacement who doesn't mind showing women their tiny unborn children's heartbeats before he rips those children to pieces and gets rid of their bodies as "medical waste" at their request, then the Texas law is doing exactly what it should be doing, in my opinion.

And if abortionists in Texas get so tired of having women change their minds after seeing that amazing little beating human heart on the ultrasound screen that they all end up quitting, so much the better. For all the rhetoric about "choice" which tries to make it seem as though having an abortion has no more moral aspect than choosing an ice cream flavor or a pair of shoes, it's pretty pathetic that a clinic in a decent-sized Texas city was counting on an elderly man to drive two hours in order to meet the demands of the "right to choose to have my unborn child killed and disposed of" crowd.


kkollwitz said...

Based on what I read here, is it more likely that the ultrasounds are simply reducing the number of abortions?

Besides he wouldn't be doing the ultrasounds would he? My wife's were always done by the nurse, not the obstetrician.

Indygo Wolf said...

I want to drop a comment here because this is something I have been asked before. Do I believe in abortion? Yes and no.

No, when it is a teenage girl or young woman who knew what she was doing. No, when it is a "wrong time for my career" thing.

Yes, if it is a victim of rape that is 18 or younger. Yes, if having a child will be fatal to both mother and baby.

I have other circumstances but those are the main ones.

WNP said...

^The problem with the centrist position on abortion is that the "abortions of convenience" people say they're against are always gonna happen (regardless of how "personally opposed" select Catholic Democratic politicians say they are) unless Roe is overturned and legislation is passed allowing abortion only in said circumstances. I guess conceivably there are anti-Roe people who think this way but so far as I can tell the general (false) perception in America is that overturning Roe is an extremist far-right position that bans abortion forever in all circumstances. not that i don't get where that perception comes from given the demographics/general level of rhetoric in the abortion debate but America without Roe could conceivably end up like certain European countries, where abortion is allowed but on a more limited basis

Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) said...


I've had 5 children and two miscarriages all with multiple ultrasounds each. I've seen midwives and doctors and perinatologists. It just depends on the doctor or lab. I've had technicians do an ultrasound in a separate lab, the doctor himself in his office during a routine visit and a few done during my most recent pregnancy by a specialist (the perinatologist) in his office which consisted of two rooms both equipped with super high definition US machines. Ultrasounds are all he did during a visit. I've never had a midwife do one, I think, so that may not be within their legal abilities in our state. It's different in each situation and usually up to the preference of the physician.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

To me, as a firmly pro-choice American Christian who finds Roe v. Wade a sound, straightforward, conservative, application of well-established law to a newly presented set of facts, the problem is in the reliance on a small number of clinics that largely, although not exclusively, exist to provide abortions.

Justice Harry Blackmun wrote about the right of an individual woman, in consultation with her physician, to make a private decision free of government interference. If every woman had a primary care physician, and/or a regular ob/gyn specialist, and the individual patient who decided to abort a pregnancy had the abortion performed by that doctor, the whole subject would be substantially depoliticized.

Given that many doctors have pro-life convictions, which they have every right to, they should prominently advertise the fact (which they should be proud to do), and informed patients can choose their doctors accordingly.

How can I say this in good conscience after Erin has graphically described how the doctor "rips those children to pieces and gets rid of their bodies"? I've seen many billboards with the "take my hand, not my life" slogan. And I know those billboards lie. They show the hands of delivered babies. Particularly during the first trimester, what is removed is not a baby, does not have any self-aware central nervous system, and whether it looks heart-rendingly cute depends on the observer. It is unique only in its genetic blueprint, a status it shares with many fertilized ova that randomly fail to implant and are naturally washed out of the womb.

Abortion should not be a casual decision, but I have no confidence the distinctions Indygo outlines could be written into law. The reason we Americans distrust government interference is that the law is a blunt instrument, which can do as much harm as good, and is inevitably implied by corrupt, stupid, venal, or biased individuals, as well as by dedicated public servants. (Besides, my preferred guidelines would be different than Indygo's).

So, some women will make good decisions, some bad decisions, but that is in the nature of individual liberty.

Chris-2-4 said...

"Particularly during the first trimester, what is removed is not a baby, does not have any self-aware central nervous system,"


Barbara C. said...

Um, and I hate to tell you this Siarlys but newborn babies don't have a fully self-aware central nervous system either.

I didn't know that "personhood" was determined by having a "self-aware central nervous system".

And when an embryo (the correct scientific terminology for a "fertilized ovum", I believe) does not implant properly and is flushed from the body is "spontaneous abortion" or "miscarriage". These terms are used for unborn babies from the moment of conception until 20-weeks, after which they are referred to as "stillborn".

An embryo or fetus is not "unique only in its genetic blueprint" but BECAUSE of its genetic blueprint, the same one that you and I have. It is a human being in the making....not going to be made some day but being made. The fact of the matter is that by 10 weeks a fetus has all of the body parts in their most basic form (including hands with fingernails). Those body parts will continue to grow and develop throughout pregnancy, and then for another 20 years after birth. If "personhood" (when someone gains the right to live) is based on "self-aware nervous systems" and complete body parts or "the physical ability to live independently" then everyone under the age of 20 should be fair game for extermination.

It's just amazing to me the verbal gymnastics that are used to reinterpret scientific terminology and evidence.

And how about THIS photo of a 21-week fetus with whose hand flopped out during in utero surgery for spina bifida. Does that image lie?

ElizabethK said...

Siarlys' post raises a question for me: Let's just say that Roe v. Wade continues to stand (I don't think it will, because I think it's a laughable law, but for the sake of argument). And let's say a woman wants to exercise her right for an abortion, but all doctors have magically become pro-life, and no one will perform one. Whose rights wins?

Given that all hypotheticals are a little silly, I think this still points to one (of the many) problems with abortion laws, which is that a woman cannot exercise her "liberty" in this area without the help of someone else. Should the law step in, then, and force a doctor to perform the procedure/prescribe the pill? Or is the woman then out of luck?

ElizabethK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ElizabethK said...

Off topic: I really like your blog, Charlotte!

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I thought I already answered your question Elizabeth, but I'll be happy to break it down in more detail.

Contrary to the sloppy use of language and sloppier though processes of the punditry and many unintelligibly opinionated Americans, the constitution does not GIVE us rights to be served anything. It does restrain government interference in the exercise of individual choice and decision making.

A woman does not have right to be provided with an abortion. The State is restrained from punishing her, or her doctor, for having or performing one.

If no doctor is willing to perform the procedure, then no procedure will be done. Women throughout human history have made attempts to self-abort, and perhaps would try it again. However, this is often fatal.

Chris is correct: YET. And if growth is interrupted, never. That's the point.

Barbara indulges in some self-righteous tautology which is exactly how NOT to win friends and influence people.

Personhood is legally determined by several centuries of judicial precedent. Add that to the list of things you didn't know.

The correct scientific terminology for the sequence from fertilization to baby includes zygote (fertilized ovum), blastocyst (a ball of undifferentiated cells), embryo (more cells with some vague outlines of an organism), and fetus (the rest of the continuum of development from cells to baby).

Barbara, I simply don't consider a unique set of genes to define a human being. Babies don't have COMPLETE brains, or even complete neck muscles, but they are self-aware INDIVIDUALS. If you cut off my hand, I would miss it, but the hand would not in the least miss being part of me -- the hand doesn't even know that it exists. No fetus during the first 20 weeks or so is even aware of its own self. Over 90 percent of abortions are done during the first trimester.

I am always amazed by the way people who define themselves as "pro-life" will offer arguments for the extermination of 20 year olds, five years olds, or one year olds, in order to score brownie points in a debate. If I know what's wrong with that, why don't you?

rdcobb said...

"Personhood is legally determined by several centuries of judicial precedent. Add that to the list of things you didn't know."

Just because judicial precedent legally determined at one time that an African slave only counted as 3/5th of a person does not change the fact that a slave was indeed a whole person.

L. said...

Wait, if I remember correctly, doesn't an ultrasound just take a few minutes to do? Is there a waiting period after the ultrasound or something, that inconveniences the doctor?

I have never understood why so many pro-abortion rights people oppose the ultrasound requirement. I don't understand why seeing a heartbeat would make any difference to most people.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

It seems to me that in a subtle way, we are wandering off topic. Erin didn't start a post about whether abortion is evil. We all know what her position is, she knows what mine is, I know that a large part of her following, quite naturally, agree with her, and her church, on the matter. She wrote about how this leads her to view a particular event. I wrote about how my pro-choice principles lead me to offer a different perspective, about the same event, but not an argument about abortion per se.

Then it all spun off into a rehash of the pros and cons of abortion being a legally available option. The fact that some of us sincerely believe a zygote is an independent person, and others of us do not, is precisely why this debate is so enduring, and so sharp.

I tried to present that in a well rounded way at Alexandria, before I was banished for lese majeste against the divine right of the last of the Stuarts. At the time, it was a mostly pro-choice crowd, and I took a lot of flak for even insinuating that there are some sincere and deeply held principles to the pro-life movement.

With that in mind, I will attempt to respond briefly to rdcobb. It seems every cause today likes to enhance its own nobility by wrapping itself in the mantle of the civil rights and abolition movements. This includes PETA, gay marriage equality, and pro-life, among others. I suggest that each cause should rise or fall on its own merits, not on how well it can construct approximate analogies between itself and a movement bitterly fought when it was contemporary, but now universally respected, at least so far as lip service constitutes respect.

The original constitution did not define enslaved persons as three-fifths of a person. It enhanced the representation in congress of those states which provided by law for enslavement, by counting three fifths of the number of enslaved persons, in addition to the number of free persons, in figuring how many seats the state was entitled to. Otherwise, they would have felt overwhelmed, because the non-slave states counted all their free field hands, factory employees, miners, etc. resulting in larger population statistics.

I am not aware that the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, or any other church ever debated "personhood" when discussing abortion, until the United States Supreme Court analyzed the rights of a pregnant woman, as a person, under the Fourteenth Amendment, and weight an argument that a fetus is also a person, WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT.

The relevance of the term "person" arises from its use in the Fourteenth Amendment, and elsewhere in the constitution of the United States. It has no other context. We can perfectly well debate the ethics of abortion without reference to the Constitution of the United States. We could do that without reference to the term "person."

Trying to develop arguments based in constitutional law may, potentially, be a practical way to change the legal framework in the United States -- but it has not been particularly productive for the pro-life position. In part, I believe it has not been productive because the weight of constitutional law does favor individual choice over state intervention in this decision. Further, there is nowhere near the overwhelming sentiment necessary to amend the constitution (it was intended to be difficult), and voters consistently reject legislative efforts to enact the unadulterated pro-life agenda into law (South Dakota, lately Mississippi).

There may be less immediate force to a more limited effort to convince people to voluntarily CHOOSE life, but I believe it has more integrity.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

P.S. I couldn't find them at first, but the series is still available if anyone is interested:

I had forgotten, but Barbara was one of the participants.

ElizabethK said...

"A woman does not have right to be provided with an abortion. The State is restrained from punishing her, or her doctor, for having or performing one." I agree with you, Siarlys--but our culture, our politicians, and the weight of rhetoric for abortion contradicts you. Abortion is, indeed, configured as a "right," and this determination now has the weight of law behind it. The recent HHS decision not to fund a Catholic anti-slavery organization because they do not provide abortion as an option underscores this fact. Abortion is seen by those in power as something women are entitled to under the law (which is what the language of rights has become, and yes, this is sloppy thinking, but it's ruling the day right now); organizations that refuse to provide them on moral grounds are finding themselves forced to provide abortions, or the money to procure one, or to go out of business. So my question is a valid one, because we're already being asked to take sides on precisely this issue.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I am always a little puzzled when people take a patent distortion of the constitution and the law, which certainly exists in our culture, and elevates it to some pseudo-legitimacy, in order to sound the trumpets of alarm.

Yes, American culture is rife with the assumption that "Whatever I want, I have a constitutional right to have it." The ultimate expression of this culture was the man protesting the sentencing of John Gotti (some folks from the neighborhood objected), who shouted "He has a constitutional right to be not guilty!"

But, correcting this mislocation requires affirming what the law is and always has been, not catering to the error. There may be any number of women (and men) who believe that a woman has a right to be provided with an abortion if she wants one -- but that is best refuted by pointing out what the law actually says, not be pretending the cultural fad IS the standard for what the law actually says.

I can't fathom at all what you mean by HHS refusing to fund a Catholic anti-slavery organization because they don't provide abortion as an option. Although many enslaved women tried to self-induce abortions rather than bear children into slavery, I doubt that is the issue here. What is?

The specific point about funding medical insurance that covers abortion is a more complex one than your statements suggest. IF a religious organization is an employer of employees, who are not themselves members of the church, then they may indeed have to allow employees to make their own decisions on the matter.

I've already noted, at Dreher's site, that churches can protect themselves from the moral dilemma of feeling complicit in employees' choice, by:

a) hiring only members in good standing of the church,

b) doing without federal funding (and I favor abolishing much federal funding and all 501 (c) (3) exemptions)

c) In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, staffing schools with priests and nuns once again (if only there were people voluntarily choosing religious vocations in sufficient numbers...)

In any event, requiring employers, including those of X religious persuasion, to fund what employees choose in medical coverage, is a totally different question from ordering a doctor to perform a task that is morally repugnant to them.