Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Roe must go—UPDATED


This post originally began life as an update to an earlier post, which you can read here. However, it just grew like Topsy.

Near the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, has been indicted on seven counts of murder, two counts of infanticide and 33 counts of felony abortions performed after the 24-week limit imposed by the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act. The lengths Dr. Gosnell is accused of to insure that babies died as a result of his ministrations—delivering them and then severing their spinal cords—is compounded by the grand jury's report, revealed in the Philadelphia Daily News, that "[t]he [Pennsylvania] Department of State literally licensed Gosnell's criminally dangerous behavior," and that the Department of Health "gave its stamp of approval to his facility." Several other clinic workers have also been indicted; the clinic has also been implicated in the deaths of at least two women. [1/21/11: HT to The Anchoress for providing the link to the grand jury's report.]

In his post on the Slate dated today, William Saletan writes:

The question for [anyone] who asserts an indefinite right to choose is whether this part of the indictment [i.e., the  felony abortion charges] should be dropped. You can argue that what Gosnell did wasn't conventional abortion—he routinely delivered the babies before slitting their necks—but the 33 proposed charges involving the Abortion Control Act have nothing to do with that. Those charges pertain strictly to a time limit: performing abortions beyond 24 weeks. Should Gosnell be prosecuted for violating that limit? Is it OK to outlaw abortions at 28, 30, or 32 weeks? Or is drawing such a line an unacceptable breach of women's autonomy?


Saletan attempts to show how unreasonable "pro-choice absolutism" is in insisting that any time limitation on abortions prior to birth is an affront to women's autonomy. However, to make this distinction Saletan employs the pseudo-scientific concept of "viability", the magic wand the personhood fairy uses to change a blob of protoplasm into a real baby. The "absolutists" are more logically consistent: either the mother's "right to choose" trumps the baby's right to life, regardless of age, or it doesn't. Both absolutists and pro-lifers rightfully regard a time limit as an artificial imposition with little basis in reality.

If you're content merely to indict "pro-choice absolutism" for extremism, a more salient charge is the absurd lengths to which the radicals have gone to attack any reasonable attempt to regulate abortion clinics and protect women who undergo an inherently unsafe procedure. For instance, it's never been clear to me why a fifteen-year-old girl isn't mature enough to take sole responsibility for having her tonsils removed but is mature enough to make the decision to have her baby cut out of her; what is clear to me is that protecting the confidentiality of the victim of rape or incest also protects the perpetrator from prosecution. Yet the nutjobs in the absolutist camp treat parental-consent laws as fascist impositions rather than reasonable concessions.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, according to the grand jury's report, stopped inspecting abortion clinics in 1993 "for political reasons". It's not hard to guess those reasons: a conscientious attempt to enforce health and safety regulations would result in cries of jack-booted repression. Yet Donald Schwarz, Philadelphia's city health inspector, had the effrontery to claim that Gosnell's clinic was "abnormal" and "not the norm for abortion care". As Eric Sammons snorted, "How would Schwarz know this? They don’t inspect abortion clinics!"

For those who have been involved in pro-life activism, Schwarz’s claim rings hollow. Time and time again abortion clinics have been found to be unsanitary, unsafe and medically dangerous (always for the child and usually for the mother as well). Yet because of pressure from the pro-abortion lobby, abortion clinics are completely unregulated.

Further damage is done to Saletan's position by recent studies suggestion a positive correlation between contraception and abortion. The most recent study, published in Contraception, which tracked contraception use and abortion rates among Spanish women, found that a 63% increase in the contraception use rate was accompanied by a 108% increase in the abortion rateEric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League crowed:

The Spanish research team may be at a loss to explain these results, but they make perfect sense to pro-life advocates who have been saying for years that contraception is not the answer to abortion. ... Meanwhile, here’s hoping that the 'further investigation' the authors of this new study are calling for takes place. If they study these issues honestly, they’ll find out that we pro-lifers have been right all along: contraception increases abortion.

As Saletan and other pro-choice advocates continue to struggle with their cognitive dissonance, ugly truths about abortion that NARAL and their intellectual puppets at the Alan Guttmacher Institute have tried so desperately to squelch continue to surface. I predict a lot more cases like Gosnell's are going to surface in the near future, and that this will eventually trigger a series of revelations about Planned Barrenhood that the MSM won't be able to ignore.[1] 

Frankly, in their hearts, the apostles of contraception have ever regarded all children as unwanted children. To second-wave feminists and their political heirs, the child is a burden, a parasite and an ugly reminder that women aren’t men with breasts.[2] For Margaret Sanger, the co-founder and spiritual Führer[3] of Planned Barrenhood, the babies of ethnic and racial minorities were also a blot on society, a threat to the eugenically-cleansed, enlightened society she wanted to bring forth. To the free-love movement, the baby represented a responsibility and a consequence they wanted to do away with, a natural inhibition to their unnatural libertinism. The absolutists have never really cared whether abortion is safe or rare, so long as it remains legal; I remember, during the run-up to the 1986 decision in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, a group of fanatics put out a video called No Turning Back, which among other insanities showed how women could induce abortions through cocaine.

Originally, back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, legalization of abortion was argued toward on the grounds that it was a logical extension of contraception, especially before SCOTUS in Roe and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton. It was precisely because of this argument that SCOTUS found the right of privacy, first used to strike down anti-contraceptive laws in Griswold v. Connecticut (1967) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1971), also covered the right to abort. The link between contraception and abortion is natural and inevitable: if children can’t be prevented, then they must be destroyed. So long as pregnancy is thought of as akin to a disease, as a debilitating “occasional side-effect” of sex rather than its biological purpose and fulfillment, people will continue to treat it as a disease … with drugs and surgery.

Don’t get me wrong; I like William Saletan. A lot of the time, if you can grant his initial premises, you can grant his conclusions. But as he says himself, it’s one thing to preach ideals in the blogosphere and another to see them in practice. That’s why sonograms have been such an effective pro-life tool. Once you see tiny little fingers and toes, the “blob of tissue” lie is replaced with the living reality of a baby. That’s how people like Dr. Bernard Nathanson (co-founder of NARAL), Norma Leah McCorvey (aka “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade) and now Abby Johnson (former director of a Planned Barrenhood clinic) eventually turned pro-life. And keep in mind that what they saw, they saw in antiseptic, sterile procedure rooms.

And that’s why abortion clinics don’t allow abortions to be or watched. Or provide sonograms.

Making a distinction between Gosnell and your typical abortion provider is not unlike making a distinction between the concentration-camp guard who took a sadistic pleasure in killing Jews and the one who took a cold-blooded, professional approach to it: the result from both was the Holocaust. At the bottom of it, Gosnell is precisely what Reproductive Health founder Marge Berer called for—a technician with a skill to offer. At the bottom of it, he did precisely what Berer wanted—he provided a service without passing judgment on its necessity. There are plenty of other abortion providers out there who don’t take outrageous trophies, who don’t abuse their patients, who run aseptic clinics—yet the result is still dead babies.

In the previous post, I said I might be willing to entertain a compromise so long as it entailed the end of abortion as a Constitutional right under the control of SCOTUS, and only as an interim step towards its eventual illegalization. However, I believe Gosnell’s indictment and trial may prove to be the watershed event which spells the decline and fall of the Great Western Atrocity in America. If that’s so, then a compromise is unnecessary when the victory is within sight.

Legal abortion needs to come to an end. Now.



[1] But then, I also predicted victory for John McCain; let's just see how this plays out.
[2] Etymologically, at least, women are men with wombs; emotionally and psychologically, women and men are almost species unto themselves.
[3] Pro-choice apologists flinch and grow irate whenever their arguments are compared to Nazism or Roger B. Taney’s opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford. However, Sanger admired Hitler’s thoughts on racial supremacy, while many Nazis were influenced in turn by Sanger.