The jury continues to deliberate. Do we?
There are important questions about just how Kermit Gosnell managed to snip necks and collect the remains of babies in jars around his filthy clinic. But the one we can not run away from is the one Robert P. George asked after watching the Fox News hour-long special on Gosnell this weekend: “How can it be that killing a baby inside the womb is perfectly acceptable while killing the very same baby (or even a baby that is a few days or even weeks younger) outside the womb is first-degree murder?”
George admits to being of a similar mindset as Gosnell:
Gosnell can’t understand how it can be that he is facing prison and possibly even the death penalty for killing the babies whose necks he snipped after they “precipitated” (i.e., emerged from the womb.) The women who came into his clinic came in to have the babies they were carrying killed. That was the point of the exercise. “Terminating” the babies’ lives was the service he offered and performed. Had he killed the babies while they were still in their mothers’ bodies (by, for example, inserting a needle to inject a poison into their tiny hearts) that would not have been a crime. He merely would have been assisting his patients in exercising what the Supreme Court deems a constitutional right. So why, he would like to know, is he being prosecuted for killing the same babies moments later after they precipitated? I must admit that I am no less puzzled by that question than Gosnell is.
Of course, George believes “we should not permit the killing of babies inside or outside the womb.” He writes:
A baby’s status as a precious member of the human family, possessing profound, inherent, and equal dignity, does not depend on something as morally arbitrary as his or her location. But if we permit the Gosnells of the world to kill babies inside the womb, it seems odd to charge them with murder for killing them outside the womb. This is especially true in view of the fact that inducing delivery and then killing babies marked for “termination” eliminates the risk to women involved in the common abortion practice of dismembering babies inside the womb and removing their severed body parts.
Kirsten Powers writes:
One of the bodies discovered in the raid of the clinic was of a 22-week-old baby with a surgical incision on the back of her neck, which penetrated the first and second vertebrae. The only thing that would make her death illegal would be if Gosnell failed to finish her off in her mother’s womb.
Does that statement make you uncomfortable? Good.
What we need to learn from the Gosnell case is that late-term abortion is infanticide. Legal infanticide. That so many people in the media seem untroubled by the idea that 12 inches in one direction is a “private medical decision” and 12 inches in the other direction causes people to react in horror, should be troubling. Indeed, Gosnell’s defense attorney Jack J. McMahon has relied on the argument that Gosnell killed the babies prior to delivering them, therefore he is not guilty of murder. His exact words were: “Every one of those babies died in utero.”
Gosnell is accused of aborting infants past the 24-week limit in Pennsylvania. But those same deaths — if done in utero — would have been perfectly legal in many states with sometimes abused health exceptions, which can include the elastic category of “mental distress.”
. . .
Medical advances since Roe v. Wade have made it clear to me that late-term abortion is not a moral gray area, and we need to stop pretending it is. No six-months-pregnant woman is picking out names for her “fetus.” It’s a baby. Let’s stop playing Orwellian word games. We are talking about human beings here.
How is this OK? Even liberal Europe gets this. In France, Germany, Italy, and Norway, abortion is illegal after 12 weeks. In addition to the life-of-mother exception, they provide narrow health exceptions that require approval from multiple doctors or in some cases going before a board. In the U.S., if you suggest such stringent regulation and oversight of later-term abortions, you are tarred within seconds by the abortion rights movement as a misogynist who doesn’t “trust women.”
She ends with:
I cannot legitimately say I am a person who cherishes human rights—the animating issue of my life and a frequent topic of my writing—and remain silent about our country’s legally endorsing infanticide.
I simply have to believe we are better than this.