Gosnell and Abortion, Part 2 of 3
Yesterday I wrote the first
in a series of 3 posts discussing why the mainstream media has been
reluctant to cover the Kermit Gosnell case. Rather than suggest that
there’s some kind of conspiracy or willful deception, my belief is that
journalists (who are overwhelmingly pro-choice) are simply unable to
confront a case that threatens to upend the misconceptions and
doublethink required to support the status quo of abortion in America.
For example, most people do not realize how radical the current laws
are. The vast majority of abortions are for birth control. They are
elective. And, while late term abortions are rare, they are effectively
unregulated. Only in the most extreme circumstances–where a doctor
injures or kills a pregnant woman–is there any really legal danger to
But there’s a simpler and much more dangerous truth that the Gosnell
case would threaten to drag into the limelight. Before I introduce it,
however, I ought to include a warning that I will be quoting from some
very graphic accounts of abortion. There are no photos or videos or
audio, and my source is an abortion doctor who remains adamantly
pro-choice to this day and was writing in defense of her career, but
that doesn’t make it any easier to read. Having thus warned you, let’s
get right to the simple reality:
2. Abortion is a violent way of killing human beings
The success of abortion rhetoric depends on focusing exclusively on
the plight of pregnant women. Although committed pro-choicers will
debate about why the rights of the women outweigh the rights of the
fetus, rhetorically that’s not how the movement operates. Instead, the
movement just pretends the unborn human being does not exist at all.
Abortion terminates pregancies, not human beings. The “contents of the uterus” are evacuated, not the tiny broken arms and legs of a fetus, and so forth.
This was all fine and good in the 1970s, but the advent of ultrasound
and in utero videography have put serious strain on the position and
created a precarious doublethink in American society. If your child
is wanted, then you go and pin the ultrasound on the fridge and use the
term “baby”. But if abortion is the topic, then you absolutely,
unequivoally oppose ultrasounds, or at least anyone seeing them. And you
never use the term “baby”.
This strain is most acute on abortionists, as evidenced by the
declining numbers of new doctors who are willing to take up the calling
and also by this incredible article: Second Trimester Abortion Provision: Breaking the Silence and Changing the Discourse.
In it, an abortionist describes in absolutely horrific detail
performing a second-trimester abortion while she herself was pregnant.
She writes, in part:
I went about doing the procedure as usual. I used
electrical suction to remove the amniotic fluid, picked up my forceps
and began to remove the fetus in parts, as I always did. I felt lucky
that this one was already in the breech position – it would make
grasping small parts (legs and arms) a little easier.
With my first pass of the forceps, I grasped an extremity
and began to pull it down. I could see a small foot hanging from the
teeth of my forceps. With a quick tug, I separated the leg. Precisely at
that moment, I felt a kick – a fluttery “thump, thump” in my own
uterus. It was one of the first times I felt fetal movement. There was a
leg and foot in my forceps, and a “thump, thump” in my abdomen.
Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes – without me – meaning my
conscious brain – even being aware of what was going on. I felt as if my
response had come entirely from my body, bypassing my usual cognitive
processing completely. A message seemed to travel from my hand and my
uterus to my tear ducts. It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally
visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my
feminist pro-choice politics. It was one of the more raw moments in my
At this point you might think that this is a conversion story. It’s not. She continues:
Doing second trimester abortions did not get easier after my pregnancy;
in fact, dealing with little infant parts of my born baby only made
dealing with dismembered fetal parts sadder.
So the author remains a committed and practicing abortionist. In
fact, her purpose in writing this piece was (as the title indicates) to
change the discourse for the purpose of generating comfort for the awful
emotional toll she suffers in carrying out routine, legal homicide. The
brutal violence of her work is so emotionally traumatic, that she feels
the need to reach out to pro-choicers for support to help her carry on
in her grisly task.
She must have been sorely disappointed by the reception. I discovered this piece from a pro-life blog called Real Choice which had in turn discovered the paper at a pro-choice blog for supporting abortionists called The Abortioneers.
The interesting thing, however, is that by the time I found the
pro-life blog, the link to the pro-choice blog was already dead. The
Abortioneers had taken their fellow abortionist’s plea for support and
scrubbed it completely from their website. At first I suspected a hoax,
but after investigation I found enough evidence from the archives of The
Abortioneers to conclude that the story was genuine. In case you have
remaining doubts, you can still find the paper listed on SSRN. It’s for real.
It’s real, but pro-choicers want it buried. They don’t want to change
the discourse by admitting the humanity of the unborn and the violence
of abortion. Talking about dismembered arms and legs is the last thing that they want to do, but it’s exactly what the Gosnell story would bring into focus.
The reality is that as much as pro-choicers protest that Gosnell crossed
some kind of bright, clear line: he didn’t. There’s no bright, clear
line between killing a 24-week fetus in her mother’s womb and killing a
24-week fetus outside her mother’s womb. It’s the same damn thing, which
is precisely why the abortionist author of that article was crying out
for some kind of help. Taking human life is never easy, but doing so
again and again and again, when that life is tiny and vulnerable? I
can’t imagine how terrible that must be to live with, which explains why
the only people left who do this kind of word are ultra-committed
ideologues and sociopaths. And the line between the two can be quite
blurry. As Melinda Henneberger writes:
Gosnell himself seemed confused, when he was charged with so many counts
of murder, as to how that could be. Because even at that point, he
didn’t appear to see the children he’s accused of beheading as people.
Buried deep beneath layers and layers of horror and repulsion, I have a
kernel of sympathy for Gosnell. He is a monster, but he’s a monster
created by the abortion movement, and he clearly doesn’t understand why
he has suddenly been betrayed. After all, the National Abortion
Federation refused him admittance, but they also let him work in their
facility and use that work as a source for his own patients. The
RealChoice blog notes that:
The Grand Jury in the Kermit Gosnell case found that at least six young
women and girls, including the mother of Baby Boy A, had never intended
to end up in the hands of Dr. Gosnell. They had sought out a member of
the most reputable organization of abortion practitioners in the world:
the National Abortion Federation (NAF).
What’s more, the basic moral blindness that led Gosnell to kill born
babies is prevalent within the pro-choice movement. Quoting Henneberger
Planned Parenthood’s Snow was similarly obtuse, either
willfully or out of habit, in testifying against a Florida bill that
would have required medical care for babies who survive abortions. “If a
baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion,” she was
asked, “what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child
that is struggling for life?”
Her answer was a familiar one: “We believe that any
decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the
Though it pains me to say so, that’s the same stand Barack
Obama effectively took when he voted against a similar Illinois bill —
even after the addition of a “neutrality clause” spelling out that the
bill would have no bearing on the legal status of the (you say fetus, I
say unborn child) at any point prior to delivery, and thus could not be
used to outlaw abortion.
Whether it’s Planned Parenthood, the President of the United States, or
pro-choice ethical philosopher Peter Singer, all of them admit publicly
that infanticide is logically equivalent to and implied by their legal
arguments for sweeping abortion freedoms. Let me reiterate: not all
pro-choice positions lead down a slippery slope to this conclusion. But
the actual laws and practices of the actual abortion industry and the
lobby that supports it in this country right now? They don’t need to
travel down a slippery slope because they are already at the bottom. There’s
really no way to cover this case without risking the revelation that
Gosnell practiced what the pro-choice (due to the precarious and extreme
nature of the Roe and Doe rulings) lobby has been maneuvered into
Excellent article, Nathaniel.
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