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May 16, 2013
Column #1,655a
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 abortion.

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 Dakota.

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 and Prevention.

“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 of law?”

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 defenseless children.”

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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