Gosnell and Abortion, Part 2 of 3

Yesterday I wrote the first in a series of 3 posts discussing why the mainstream media has been reluctant to cover the Kermit Gosnell case. Rather than suggest that there’s some kind of conspiracy or willful deception, my belief is that journalists (who are overwhelmingly pro-choice) are simply unable to confront a case that threatens to upend the misconceptions and doublethink required to support the status quo of abortion in America. For example, most people do not realize how radical the current laws are. The vast majority of abortions are for birth control. They are elective. And, while late term abortions are rare, they are effectively unregulated. Only in the most extreme circumstances–where a doctor injures or kills a pregnant woman–is there any really legal danger to the abortionist.

But there’s a simpler and much more dangerous truth that the Gosnell case would threaten to drag into the limelight. Before I introduce it, however, I ought to include a warning that I will be quoting from some very graphic accounts of abortion. There are no photos or videos or audio, and my source is an abortion doctor who remains adamantly pro-choice to this day and was writing in defense of her career, but that doesn’t make it any easier to read. Having thus warned you, let’s get right to the simple reality:

2. Abortion is a violent way of killing human beings 

The success of abortion rhetoric depends on focusing exclusively on the plight of pregnant women. Although committed pro-choicers will debate about why the rights of the women outweigh the rights of the fetus, rhetorically that’s not how the movement operates. Instead, the movement just pretends the unborn human being does not exist at all. Abortion terminates pregancies, not human beings. The “contents of the uterus” are evacuated, not the tiny broken arms and legs of a fetus, and so forth.

This was all fine and good in the 1970s, but the advent of ultrasound and in utero videography have put serious strain on the position and created a precarious doublethink in American society. If your child is wanted, then you go and pin the ultrasound on the fridge and use the term “baby”. But if abortion is the topic, then you absolutely, unequivoally oppose ultrasounds, or at least anyone seeing them. And you never use the term “baby”.

This strain is most acute on abortionists, as evidenced by the declining numbers of new doctors who are willing to take up the calling and also by this incredible article: Second Trimester Abortion Provision: Breaking the Silence and Changing the Discourse. In it, an abortionist describes in absolutely horrific detail performing a second-trimester abortion while she herself was pregnant. She writes, in part:

I went about doing the procedure as usual. I used electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky that this one was already in the breech position – it would make grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier.

With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery “thump, thump” in my own uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a leg and foot in my forceps, and a “thump, thump” in my abdomen. Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes – without me – meaning my conscious brain – even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my life.

At this point you might think that this is a conversion story. It’s not. She continues:

Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy; in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.

So the author remains a committed and practicing abortionist. In fact, her purpose in writing this piece was (as the title indicates) to change the discourse for the purpose of generating comfort for the awful emotional toll she suffers in carrying out routine, legal homicide. The brutal violence of her work is so emotionally traumatic, that she feels the need to reach out to pro-choicers for support to help her carry on in her grisly task.

She must have been sorely disappointed by the reception. I discovered this piece from a pro-life blog called Real Choice which had in turn discovered the paper at a pro-choice blog for supporting abortionists called The Abortioneers. The interesting thing, however, is that by the time I found the pro-life blog, the link to the pro-choice blog was already dead. The Abortioneers had taken their fellow abortionist’s plea for support and scrubbed it completely from their website. At first I suspected a hoax, but after investigation I found enough evidence from the archives of The Abortioneers to conclude that the story was genuine. In case you have remaining doubts, you can still find the paper listed on SSRN. It’s for real.

It’s real, but pro-choicers want it buried. They don’t want to change the discourse by admitting the humanity of the unborn and the violence of abortion. Talking about dismembered arms and legs is the last thing that they want to do, but it’s exactly what the Gosnell story would bring into focus.

The reality is that as much as pro-choicers protest that Gosnell crossed some kind of bright, clear line: he didn’t. There’s no bright, clear line between killing a 24-week fetus in her mother’s womb and killing a 24-week fetus outside her mother’s womb. It’s the same damn thing, which is precisely why the abortionist author of that article was crying out for some kind of help. Taking human life is never easy, but doing so again and again and again, when that life is tiny and vulnerable? I can’t imagine how terrible that must be to live with, which explains why the only people left who do this kind of word are ultra-committed ideologues and sociopaths. And the line between the two can be quite blurry. As Melinda Henneberger writes:

Gosnell himself seemed confused, when he was charged with so many counts of murder, as to how that could be. Because even at that point, he didn’t appear to see the children he’s accused of beheading as people.

Buried deep beneath layers and layers of horror and repulsion, I have a kernel of sympathy for Gosnell. He is a monster, but he’s a monster created by the abortion movement, and he clearly doesn’t understand why he has suddenly been betrayed. After all, the National Abortion Federation refused him admittance, but they also let him work in their facility and use that work as a source for his own patients. The RealChoice blog notes that:

The Grand Jury in the Kermit Gosnell case found that at least six young women and girls, including the mother of Baby Boy A, had never intended to end up in the hands of Dr. Gosnell. They had sought out a member of the most reputable organization of abortion practitioners in the world: the National Abortion Federation (NAF).

What’s more, the basic moral blindness that led Gosnell to kill born babies is prevalent within the pro-choice movement. Quoting Henneberger again:

Planned Parenthood’s Snow was similarly obtuse, either willfully or out of habit, in testifying against a Florida bill that would have required medical care for babies who survive abortions. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion,” she was asked, “what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

Her answer was a familiar one: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.”

Though it pains me to say so, that’s the same stand Barack Obama effectively took when he voted against a similar Illinois bill — even after the addition of a “neutrality clause” spelling out that the bill would have no bearing on the legal status of the (you say fetus, I say unborn child) at any point prior to delivery, and thus could not be used to outlaw abortion.

Whether it’s Planned Parenthood, the President of the United States, or pro-choice ethical philosopher Peter Singer, all of them admit publicly that infanticide is logically equivalent to and implied by their legal arguments for sweeping abortion freedoms. Let me reiterate: not all pro-choice positions lead down a slippery slope to this conclusion. But the actual laws and practices of the actual abortion industry and the lobby that supports it in this country right now? They don’t need to travel down a slippery slope because they are already at the bottom. There’s really no way to cover this case without risking the revelation that Gosnell practiced what the pro-choice (due to the precarious and extreme nature of the Roe and Doe rulings) lobby has been maneuvered into preaching.

6 thoughts on “Gosnell and Abortion, Part 2 of 3”

  1. I don’t see what the big deal is. None of those babies even knew arithmetic, much less vector calculus. :P

  2. I miss your arguments, Reece. Those were good times.

    I also realize now that you were doing an homage of Phillip K. Dick’s short story. Finding out that one of the titan’s of sci-fi (probably the most creative story teller in the entire genre) was also a full-throated, no-apologies pro-lifer was one of my all-time great life discoveries. I was already in awe of his mind, but now I’m also in awe of his spirit.

    Sure wish he were still around today.

  3. I haven’t been following this story too closely save for when I am getting ready in the morning and I have on the news. But I noticed one strategy, now that this story is gaining momentum, is that pro-choicers are claiming this story as proof of their cause. That is to say this story is indivative of the fact that we need access to safe abortions, Gosnell clearly wasn’t safe so the pro-choice movement has more work to do. Or at least this is what Donna Brazile thought. I hope I’m not pre-empting part 3, but was wondering if you had a take on this strategy?

  4. I think I’m going to incorporate some of that into my third part, yeah, but you’re not pre-empting anything.

    The short version is that that defense is too stupid to be taken seriously, but it will be taken seriously as long as the pro-choice side can successfully bury Gosnell’s connection to the NAF and the larger fact that the pro-choice lobby is the reason that he was protected for the least decade+ without interference or oversight.

    It’s just such an ugly, vicious lie. If the pro-choice lobby cared about women as much as they say they did, then Gosnell would never have been able to carry on killing women and babies for as long as he did.

  5. I hadn’t seen that yet, Jaime, and even as jaded and cynical as I am: that takes the cake. It’s really pretty simple, though. Pro-life groups were outside the clinic a court-mandated distance away. The National Abortion Federation sent an inspector inside the clinic.

    Is there really any doubt about who let down those women more? Because there shouldn’t be.

    This article deserves a gold star for intellectual gymnastics.

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