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Gosnell and Congress


As Ramesh and Robby George call for congressional hearings, two letters have gone out today from Congress in response to the Gosnell trial. They write, in part:

In Pennsylvania, the state government was manifestly not following the Constitution’s command. It was taking no action to keep lethal violence from being inflicted on infants at abortion clinics. Almost all persons in the state’s jurisdiction enjoyed the basic guarantee that the state will try to deter and punish their deliberate killing. But not “all persons”: not these newborn persons. From them, this guarantee was withheld. The Constitution does not allow the state to make any group of persons, as Justice Anthony Kennedy once wrote, “a stranger to its laws.”

The grand-jury report suggests as well that the fact that the victims were poor and black partly explained the passivity of state officials. This claim, if true, strengthens the case that the state was failing to fulfill its legal duty. There is, of course, all too much precedent for such state failure to enforce civil rights granted by the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment contemplates such failure and offers a solution: Its fifth and concluding section confers upon Congress the power to enforce its substantive guarantees. In this case, power clearly implies duty. It is a power Congress has often used to force states to do the right thing, or to step in itself to bring justice where states refused.

Today the House Judiciary Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are sending letters today to 50 state attorneys general and health departments asking if find out if state and local governments asking about the state oversight of clinics that perform abortions and efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and mothers in those facilities.

Read the Judiciary Committee letter to attorneys general here. Read the Energy and Commerce Committee letter to state health departments here.



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