With the case of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, America is reaping what the progressive left has sown.
At first, we were warned that desperate women were dying from botched abortions performed by the unskilled in back alley rooms that served as makeshift clinics. We were shocked that women would feel so desperate as to suffer the horrors of unsanitary conditions and unlicensed abortionists, but we also remembered that these women had made a decision whose consequence had led to their dilemma. The conservative moral values of the times strove to reconcile the sympathy of their plight with the shame of the apparently relaxed moral attitudes of what most considered a practice employed by unwed teenagers unable or unwilling to say no.
To be clear, this debate had nothing to do with cases of medical necessity such as tubal pregnancies or other factors that placed the mother’s life in danger. These medical necessity cases are unfortunate and understood to occur through no one’s choice or fault. The progressives framed the argument as a woman’s choice and argued she had the right to decide how she wanted to deal with pregnancy while defining a fetus as tissue and nothing more. Conservatives countered that the woman had already made her choice and that progressives were arguing that consequences shouldn’t apply to a baby existing as a living fetus.
Then, after being reminded of this horror through a steady stream of cases, we were promised that legalized abortion would be a safe alternative for those women who felt they had no other choice, but otherwise rarely employed. Safe, but rare. The Supreme Court, in perhaps its most contorted ruling, found a Constitutional protection for abortion in the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade case. The die was cast, and those who feared legalized abortion would explode in America have seen their fears come to pass some 50 million abortions later.
Through the years, legislative attempts were made by conservatives to slow the abortion rate and outlaw the most repulsive late-term abortions in which the fetus was partially delivered only to have its skull crushed so it would pass through the mother’s cervix. As sickening as this procedure is, the progressives would have none of it. No law could be permitted to infringe on a woman’s sacred right to choose. Any attempt was met with the standard litany of protests involving gray areas such as rape or incest. No, it had to be unfettered and unregulated or it was deemed unconstitutional. And, there was no age limit as even teenagers were allowed the procedure without the requirements of parental consent or notification.
Where I come from, a woman has always had the right to choose, but this choice involved a decision to engage in or forgo sex. In those cases where she has been denied this right to choose through rape or incest, our laws have reflected an attempt to redress her grievances through the courts by punishing her aggressor. Pregnancy is not a choice, but rather a consequence of the sexual act, and the choice spoke of by the progressive pro-choice crowd involves choosing whether or not to accept this consequence. Life is a series of choices with consequences, but the feel-good crowd believes this shouldn’t apply to them. This conservative argument of choosing to have sex empowers women to say no if they aren’t comfortable with the possible consequence of pregnancy and refuses to lump them together as victims.
Progressives promoting the legality of abortion portrayed women as victims of back-alley abortionists, and that these women were held hostage by conservative moral values that refused to understand that their pursuit of happiness had placed them in a desperate situation. To progressives, it was these conservative moral values that were to blame for women seeking abortions because of the enormous shame placed on them for becoming pregnant. This ignored the fact that many women sought abortions not out of the shame of their predicament, but out of a sense of preservation of the convenience of their way of life. On one hand, women were victims while on the other hand, they were exercising their choice. This is a neat progressive argument covering every case. Progressives have managed to portray women as victims of morality while making them victims of the abortion industry; an industry that covers up mistakes, protects bad doctors, hides industry statistics, and promotes propaganda minimizing the seriousness of the abortion procedure in an effort to protect the abortion industry.
Now, the acceptance and casual indifference of abortion as a right by progressives in America has led to the evolution of abortionists such as Kermit Gosnell. Dr. Gosnell is charged with eight counts of murder by a grand jury that detailed his killing of live-born, late-term babies by cutting into the back of their necks and severing their spinal columns with scissors. Their report also described collections of baby body parts kept in jars on shelves. The mind recoils at the thought of such despicable horror. With the murder of live-born babies considered abortion, we’ve come to the bottom of the slippery slope. The worst fears of conservatives who warned of this eventuality only to be derided as Victorian by the sophisticated left have now been realized.
Will this be the abortion bridge too far that the pro-choice crowd finally shuns? Is this the Sister Souljah moment that sickens progressives into condemning abortion extremism? If not, then I can conceive of no example that will. We have all seen the in utero photos of fetuses sucking their tiny thumbs, and been moved by the graphic image of a fetus grasping a doctor’s finger as he performed a procedure on it in its mother’s womb. We’ve all suffered through the disgusting details of fetuses recoiling from the abortionist’s tools and the mental images of late-term abortions. After all of these, we’ve wondered how anyone could deny that a fetus is a baby and justify taking its life for the sake of the mother’s convenience.
Dr. Gosnell preyed upon unsuspecting and desperate women just as surely as those practicing back alley abortions did prior to 1973. Women were no safer in his care than they were back then as he is also charged in the death of one woman. Like the back alley abortionist, Dr. Gosnell was motivated by greed as he amassed millions of dollars through countless abortions. In this respect, he is no different than a professional assassin who kills for money.
Dr. Gosnell is emblematic of that small segment of abortion doctors motivated to place their own interests above those of their patients. There are many fine OB/GYN doctors in America who provide excellent care for their patients, and there are many abortion doctors who seek to provide safe procedures to their patients with their utmost care and safety in mind. His example should not be used as an excuse to portray every abortion doctor as motivated by greed or capable of committing such atrocities. Just as there are many fine doctors of every specialty who provide excellent care and enjoy untarnished reputations, there are some who endanger their patients through incompetency or greed. These few selfish doctors no more represent the entire profession than does Dr. Gosnell represent every abortion provider. What he does represent is that small segment of abortion doctors that has rationalized their greed into committing indefensible atrocities shocking to the public.
Government exists to protect the weak and defenseless. A fetus is the epitome of weak and defenseless, yet we have turned our backs on them by sanctioning their murder at the merest whim. If we choose not to protect this weakest and most defenseless of citizens, then where does the legitimacy of our government lie? Where is our moral justification to pontificate on the superiority of democracy over autocratic governmental forms? Because we are free to do what feels good? If we can’t bring ourselves to identify a fetus as a human being, how can we preach to others on the conditions of their human rights?
Those on the left who agonize over cases of rape and incest are not willing to compromise on abortion limits and certainly not willing to even consider a law that made abortion illegal except in cases of rape and incest if the woman so chose. Now, let’s see if progressives willing to defend partial-birth abortion as necessary are willing to defend Dr. Gosnell in their quest to protect their sacrosanct right to choose.