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When Human Lives Are ‘Comparatively Abstract’



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In a wistful “Postcard: Wichita” report in Time magazine, David Von Drehle mourned how that Kansas town became the epicenter of protests and controversy over the late-term abortions of murdered abortionist George Tiller. (It’s not like Crawford, Texas, ached for Cindy Sheehan, either, but she was more to Time’s liking.) And he strangely suggested that first-trimester or second-trimester babies are somehow “abstract” on a moral scale:

Tiller was the rare physician willing to follow America’s ambivalence about abortion to its ragged edge. In his drab clinic here with hospital beds in the basement, Tiller performed not only comparatively abstract early procedures but also grimly literal late-term abortions.

Von Drehle continued that “Most people don’t want to think about the work Tiller did,” and that would include Time, which left out all of the “grimly literal” details of Tiller’s abortions, which The Wall Street Journal provided:

He stopped the fetal heart with an injection of digoxin, a drug used to treat adult heart patients. Then he would induce labor. Patients said they would wait in hotel rooms through two to three days of contractions until they were ready to deliver their stillborns at his clinic.

This allowed Tiller’s colleague Leroy Carhart to suggest to ABC that these were merely doctor-assisted miscarriages: “It’s very much a three day, four day, even five day procedure. And in our procedure, after the first day, the fetus is no longer alive. So it’s really a miscarriage of a stillborn fetus.”



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