Douglas Karpen is the New Kermit Gosnell
Aside from wishing that people would simply not talk about Kermit
Gosnell at all, pro-choice groups in American politics would really like
everyone to understand that Kermit Gosnell was a horrific aberration.
As a group, the pro-choice movement tends to circle the wagon around
late-term abortionists and idolize them. George Tiller, for example, was
considered a hero even before his murder made him a martyr. So, when
the late term abortion is legal, you’re a women’s rights
crusader and paragon of sacrifice and bravery. But, if you take the
exact same fetus and more or less the same method of execution and carry
it out outside the womb, then all of a sudden that is
something completely and totally different. So: killing human beings
inside the womb at (for example) 24 weeks and killing human beings
outside the womb (also, for example, at 24 weeks) are basically
unrelated practices, as far as the pro-choice movement is concerned. One
gets you awards and fame, the other gets you a life-term prison
|Kermit Gosnell, after being sentenced.|
The pro-life side is, to put it mildly, rather skeptical of this bright-line distinction.
When pro-choice individuals are honest, of course, they also admit
that there’s not much of a distinction at all. Pro-choice philosophers
openly call for infanticide (aka “after birth abortion“), so have Planned Parenthood spokespersons, and most notably there’s an extensive article called
“Second trimester abortion provision: breaking the silence and changing
the discourse” by an abortionist about the personal trauma she feels
when carrying out late-term abortions. The truth is undeniable:
abortion–and especially late-term abortion–is an act of savage and
barbaric violence that dehumanizes everyone concerned: the woman, the
abortionist, and of course the unborn (or born, does it really make a
difference?) human being.
This may seem judgmental to women in crisis pregnancies, but the
pro-life movement has from the earliest days of woman’s suffrage
understood that abortion is a means for exploiting women who, because of
an unplanned pregnancy, are in an incredibly vulnerable position.
Rather than the stereotypical angry abortion clinic protester yelling at
women or calling them murderers, the pro-life movement as I have known
it my entire life is best summarized by this bumper sticker I once saw: Abortion has two victims: One killed and one wounded.
Today I read tragic news from Texas that confirms the pro-life
understanding of abortion (especially late-term abortion) as a
dehumanizing practice. WARNING: THIS NEWS IS GRAPHIC.
The Daily Mail
reports that a new “house of horrors” has been discovered in Texas
where abortionist Douglas Karpen delivered live babies during third
trimester before killing them. The extreme nature of the charges explain
why the story is getting it’s biggest coverage in a UK tabloid, but the
evidence is credible. The New York Times reports Texas Lt.
Gov. David Dewhurst has called for an investigation, and the Harris
County district attorney’s office is opening one. In addition, the Houston Chronicle
vetted the three eyewitnesses at the center of the case and determined
(based on pay stubs) that they had indeed been employed by the clinic.
There are also photos and videos, although I don’t have the stomach to
look at more of those.
cords of living newborns with scissors. Alternatively, he killed some by
physically twisting their heads off with his bare hands or ripping
their throats out with forceps. I guess he was experimenting with
different techniques? If they were too big to deliver whole, he would
dismember them in the womb and then pull the pieces out. (Why is that
controversial? It’s the standard legal abortion technique.) This wasn’t
some weird exception, either. The news coverage of Gosnell’s conviction
mentions that he was found guilty on three counts of murder, but they
neglect that he killed hundreds of newborns. They just didn’t
have physical evidence that the others had been delivered alive before
being killed. After all: if you kill the unborn human being inside her
mother’s womb it is (generally, depending on the state) legal. Same
thing was going on in Douglas Karpen’s clinic. Here’s testimony from a
When he did an abortion, especially an over 20 week abortion, most of
the time the fetus would come completely out before he either cut the
spinal cord or he introduced one of the instruments into the soft spot
of the fetus in order to kill it…. or actually twisting the head off the
neck with his own bare hands. It was still alive because it was still
moving and you could see the stomach breathing.
What will it take for people to understand that infanticide is not just the inevitable theoretical but also the practical consequence
of America’s gruesomely liberal abortion laws? When you tell doctors
that they can take $4,000 for killing a human being and that this not
only acceptable but laudable, when you treat these men and women as heroes,
what do you expect to be the result? The reality is that killing a
human being is psychologically traumatic. People who do that for money,
as their career, either have something wrong with them already or break
something inside of themselves as they go. That’s the reason abortion
clinics are becoming so rare, by the way. It’s really hard to convince
idealistic, freshly minted MDs to take up the practice of killing
instead of healing. I haven’t found any reporting on the condition of
the clinic–Kermit Gosnell’s was filthy, filled with body parts of dead
bodies, and was operated in a racist way that gave preferences to white
mothers over black mothers, but I would be surprised if a lot of the
same weren’t also true of Douglas Karpen’s facility.
UPDATE: I’ve since found that at least one of Karpen’s patients died.
Denise Montoya was given an abortion in 1988 when she was 15 years old
and 25 weeks pregnant. Karpen performed the procedure which led to
Montoya’s death. Her parents sued, alleging that the clinic “failed to
adequately explain the risks of the procedure, and had not provided
consent forms, or had the parents sign any informed consent document,
prior to the fatal abortion.” Another lawsuit
stemmed from Nicolette C.’s partial abortion. Nicolette called from
Louisiana to ask for advice, and the clinic quoted her a price of about
$900 and said it would go up every week. They quoted her over $1,000
after she waited 10 days, but when she arrived at the clinic they said
the price was $1,800. Nicolette, alone, 16, without parental notice or
consent, tried to pawn her jewelry to meet the higher price. She finally
had to return home and borrow money before the clinic would begin the
abortion by inserting a laminaria to start dilation. Nicolette changed
her mind, however, and returned to the clinic to beg them to remove the
laminaria and stop the abortion. (This is a procedure that can be done.)
According to the suit the clinic and Karpen lied to Nicolette and
refused to remove the laminaria. Finally Nicolette and her mom sought
emergency help at a hospital where Nicolette gave birth to a premature
little girl. The baby girl survived 6 months before dying. As I
suspected, the pattern of wanton cruelty and indifference lives on with
late-term abortion providers.
One of the most important consequences of revelations about Gosnell,
Karpen, and other late-term abortionists is the collapse of the myth
that pro-life activists are concerned only with stopping abortion and
not with helping women. Was it really concern for women that led
pro-choice groups to cover for Kermit Gosnell? To screen him from any
oversight or regulation? To allow him to refer patients from the
mainstream National Abortion Federation to his own clinic? To refuse to
report his clinic despite being invited to take a tour of the grisly
facility? Is it concern for women that leads national organizations like
Planned Parenthood to continue to fight tooth and nail against
common-sense regulation of abortion clinics that would, for example,
hold them up to the same standards as other medical outpatient surgery
facilities or require that abortionists have admitting privileges at
local hospitals in case something wrong? Is it concern for women that
leads Planned Parenthood to not only fail to report evidence of
statutory rape, but also to help cover it up? Because let me tell you:
if that’s what concern for women looks like, women need some new allies.
|The three former Karpen employees that are testifying against him.|
I can’t speak for every pro-life organization because I’m not familiar
with all of them. I’ve primarily worked with the Virginia Society for
Human Life (state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, which is the oldest and largest pro-life organization) and with Secular Pro-Life.
Everyone I’ve met at those organizations, and also in my informal
discussions with other pro-life activists, cares deeply and sincerely
about the welfare of women. We believe that elective abortions are not
only wrong because they unnecessarily end innocent human lives, but also
because they perpetuate the exploitation of women. Feminists for Life
is not an oxymoron. In fact, given the way that the pro-choice movement
expresses concern for women by enabling abortionists like Gosnell and
Karpen, you might be forgiven for starting to wonder if it was actually
the other way around.
It’s perfectly true that late-term abortions are rare. I understand
that. As a result, it’s possible for pro-choice people to sincerely
believe in early-term abortions as a fundamental right without accepting
that elective late-term abortions ought to be legal. But those
well-intentioned pro-choice individuals need to understand that their
moderate views are not being reflected by the leaders and institutions
they often support. If you’re pro-choice and you think Gosnell and
Karpen are anomalies, I have news for you: they aren’t. They are logical
extensions of the ideology that currently holds sway in the upper
echelons of the pro-choice movement. If you’d like to work to reform
your own movement to try and make them anomalies, that would be
great. But you just might have to overturn Roe v. Wade in the process,
because the framework it set up (along with Doe v. Bolton) doesn’t leave
an awful lot of wiggle-room.
It's really difficult to describe the sensation I have when I look at photos of Gosnell. It's real, emotional pain. I just have to wonder how someone can get that twisted, and then I also have to feel some sense of pity, because for someone to do something that horrible must require some part of his soul to be missing.
And then to realize there are others out there just like him who, as you say, are probably formed by the society in which they live. It makes me feel a vague sense of culpability, as if by not doing enough to change the way our society faces these issues I'm partly guilty for all this death.
When I see the images of bloody, mangled corpses before me, I often stop and wonder, why is it that even in light of those images I have to stop and justify my position on women's rights? Sometimes it all feels so surreal.
Devastating truly is the right word.