May 16, 2013
Abortion and Infanticide
By Mike McManus
The conviction of late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell of
first degree murder in three cases Is welcome news. However, it
raises a disturbing question. Why is the snipping of the neck of
a newborn baby any more horrific than dismembering a child of
similar age in the womb?
Princeton Professor Robert George argues, “It will no longer be
possible to pretend that abortion and infanticide are radically
different acts or practices.” He said that if we believe “In the
fundamental equality of human beings – how can a right to
abortion (where `abortion’ means performing an act whose purpose
is to cause fetal death) be defended at all?”
This is exactly what those who support abortion do not want to
consider. Not surprisingly, such folks were quick to condemn
Gosnell, but uphold the right to abortion.
“Justice was served to Kermit Gosnell today, and he will pay the
price for the atrocities he committed,” said Ilyse Hogue,
president of Naral Pro-Choice America. “Anti-choice politicians,
and their unrelenting efforts to deny women access to safe and
legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley
butchers like Kermit Gosnell.”
Yet, the Gosnell case raises a valid question for America. Why
is it legal to kill a baby of 24 weeks gestation in the womb
which can survive outside – but murder if the 24-week baby is
delivered and then killed?
This is a new issue that has not been addressed in the 40 years
since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. It is an important new
tool for pro-life advocates to use fighting for limits to
Nine states have passed laws that declare abortion to be illegal
after 20 weeks gestation, when such babies can feel pain,
according to many experts. Those states are Nebraska, Kansas,
Idaho, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas and North
I predict that many more will do so citing the Gosnell case as a
reason to act.
“By pulling back the secrecy that cloaks this industry that
preys on women’s misery, we have a real agenda moving forward,”
exulted Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.
Live births were occurring regularly in Gosnell’s office. One
baby whose neck was broken by the abortionist was at 29.4 weeks
gestation, according to an ultrasound record. It was so large
Gosnell joked that “this baby is big enough to walk around with
me or walk me to the bus stop.”
Such cases are reportedly rare – fewer than 1.3% are past 20
weeks of gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control
“Thousands are not reported,” declares Douglas Johnson of
National Right to Life. For example, virtually all of Gosnell’s
cases were late term abortions of 24 weeks or more. State
authorities had received many complaints about him, yet had not
visited the clinic in 17 years.
He was convicted on 211 counts of not having patients wait 24
hours after requesting an abortion as required by law. He was
also convicted on 21 of 24 charges of performing illegal
late-term abortions. There are hundreds if not thousands of
clinics like his, operating without oversight.
Deirdre McQuade, Assistant Director of Pro-Life Activities for
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asks “Why is it
gruesomely murderous to kill a child, but considered legal
`health care’ while he or she is still in the womb? Why does a
human being just inches from being born have no right to life,
while those who have emerged from the womb enjoy the protection
Her questions underscore the lack of logic of current law.
She hopes that Dr. Gosnell’s unethical practices will lead to “a
new awareness that `legal’ does not mean `safe’ when it comes to
abortion, fresh support for – and enforcement of – clinic
regulations laws, compassion for women who have experienced this
tragedy, and ultimately to the protection – and welcoming- of
To put it differently, out of the conviction of Gosnell of
infanticide – can come great good – particularly a shift in
public opinion against easy and unregulated abortion.
National Right to Life published poll results last month that by
a 2-1 margin, the public supports a law such as the Pain Capable
Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortion after 20
weeks, unless the life of the mother is in danger. That was
before Gosnell’s conviction.
Many states will pass laws limiting abortions. Gosnell’s
horrific acts will inspire much needed change.
This can be a productive week for pro-life America – if we
follow Scripture’s mandate to “Rescue those being led away to
death” (Proverbs 24:11).
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same sex marriage,
abortion and infanticide,