Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Gosnell trial and a lack of humanity

Previously, I talked about the Kermit Gosnell murder trial currently underway in Philadelphia and the relatively muted media coverage on the same. Since then, coverage of the trial has picked up substantially, thanks in a large part to Kirsten Powers, with many people in the mainstream media actually offering up mea culpas for their previous lack of attention on the matter.

But there has always been an element determined to redirect outrage over Gosnell's actions away from the issue of the validity of abortions, late term abortions to be specific. Such attempts--I detailed several--are misplaced in my opinion, as Gosnell is not on trial for performing abortions, but rather for murdering newborn babies, two things that should be dissimilar enough to allow unfettered coverage of his trial.

With the now-increased coverage, however, organizations and individuals who wish to protect all abortions, all forms of abortion, at any cost for fear of a slippery slope loss of abortion rights have their backs up again. For instance, the pro-abortion group (I don't know any other way to say it) RH Reality Check held a media conference call, a "fact-based" call supposedly, yesterday "to help journalists and bloggers get a full picture" of the coverage on the Gosnell trial. Tim Carney at The Examiner participated in the call and asked the expert panel from RH Reality Check to explain how Gosnell's actions--in killing newborns--differed from other late term abortions, like those of Dr. LeRoy Carhart. He quotes the response he received from Dr. Tracy Weitz in full. Here is a portion of that response:
When inductions for delivery — that is, in the third trimester, when procedures are performed, when abortions are performed, they are usually done as inductions. That is, they look much more like a labor and delivery. And the fetus is traditionally euthanized before that procedure is initiated. Two drugs, either potassium chloride or digoxin, are used to make sure that the fetus is not living before the procedure is initiated.
What Weitz is saying is that Gosnell, in delivering then killing babies, didn't do things the "right way" in the least. The "right way" is to kill the baby--pardon me, the "fetus"--prior to it being delivered--wait, I mean "aborted"--via a lethal injection of drugs.

Personally, that makes my skin crawl. I am not opposed to abortion in general. I think it is a valid medical procedure that can be necessary for a variety of reasons. But there comes a point when it ceases to be a valid choice, except in the most extreme cases. Late-term abortions are necessarily subject to scrutiny because of this ill-defined point, because there must be a moment when a viable fetus--viable outside of the womb--deserves to be protected, where delivering it is as safe or safer than aborting it.

In 2007, Congress passed and Bush signed into law the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which simply put made a specific kind of late-term abortion illegal, a procedure know as intact dilation and extraction. This procedure is really the key element in all of this. Gosnell was essentially performing IDXs in the cases where he allegedly murdered babies; he just ended their lives after full delivery--rather than part of the way through--because it was easier, I guess.

Dr. Weitz, when she says "the fetus is traditionally euthanized," is shading the truth to put it mildly.  Now the fetus is euthanized, but that's a change that came about because of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Prior to 2007, the fetus was not always euthanized, instead it was partially delivered then killed prior to full delivery. The SCOTUS decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (which was a challenge to the constitutionality of the Act) details how these IDX procedures tended to go:
"Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby’s legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby’s body and the arms—everything but the head. The doctor kept the head right inside the uterus… .

"The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out, like a startle reaction, like a flinch, like a baby does when he thinks he is going to fall.

"The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby went completely limp… .

"He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw the baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he had just used."
In many cases where the fetus is killed prior to the procedure, the above could be done just as easily, with no change in risk or degree of difficulty.

I know this kind of stuff is hard to read or to hear, but I think it important to understand what people like Weitz are really selling when they speak of these procedures. If Gosnell is guilty of the crimes he is accused of, he is most certainly something of a monster. But what of others who basically accept the end goal of his actions, but only object to the means he used to get there? Perhaps euthanizing the fetus is more humane than sticking a pair of surgical scissors into its brain, but the end result is still the same.

It's beyond me how anyone can approve of one of these methods, yet honestly object to the others.  Of course it's also beyond me how anyone--who possesses even a shred of humanity--could approve of that one method, at all.

Cheers, all.

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