The Philadelphia abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was found guilty Monday of murdering three babies born alive in an abortion clinic. (Gosnell severed the necks of the newborn babies.) He was acquitted in the fourth baby’s death, and found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of an adult patient.
Planned Parenthood applauded the verdict. “The jury has punished Kermit Gosnell for his appalling crimes.”
The abortion rights organization should have stopped there. But it didn’t.
The wait for the verdict in the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell went on today as a jury continued to weigh the multitude of charges that the Philadelphia abortionist faces for butchering women and their babies. The case has gotten more attention in the mainstream media in recent weeks after conservative columnists lambasted it for ignoring a gruesome story that remains an embarrassment to the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. But it’s still unclear whether the country has even started to fully assimilate what these crimes mean about the state of health care for poor women in this country. Nor are many of us asking the big question that hangs over the Gosnell proceedings: how much of an aberration are the instances of infanticide that the testimony against the defendants revealed?
But there is one thing we know for sure. If Gosnell’s attorneys manage to convince a jury not to convict him, you can forget about any expectations that this case will lead to more scrutiny of clinics where late-term abortions are being conducted.
Abortion rights defenders are right to say that the charge that Gosnell’s crimes, which include the murder of infants born alive after botched abortions, should not be imputed to anyone else in what is a large sector of the health care industry. But the problem in Philadelphia is that due to a politically-motivated decision by a pro-choice Republican governor a decade ago, inspections of such clinics were shelved lest they be interpreted as an attempt to make abortions less available. But if a jury is persuaded that the Gosnell prosecution is about race or an attempt to roll back Roe v. Wade, the impulse in the media as well as among a political class that largely wishes to avoid entanglement in this issue will be to forget about it, allowing any other Gosnells out there to go on killing babies and mistreating their patients with impunity.
Even in an administration as skilled in manipulating the media as that of Barack Obama, there are still some things that are more greatly valued than a finely crafted piece of political spin. One of those is the need to pay back supporters for their efforts in the president’s re-election campaign. That’s why President Obama will be addressing Planned Parenthood in Washington on Friday. Given the prominent role that PP President Cecile Richards played last year as surrogate speaker for the president, and the organization’s central part in promoting the idea that Republicans were waging a “war on women,” Obama’s decision to speak at the event seems only natural. But the timing of his appearance at a Planned Parenthood conference couldn’t be worse.
The problem stems from the admission on the part of an official of the group’s Southeastern Pennsylvania affiliate reported last week by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Speaking with Gloria Steinem at the group’s annual Spring Gathering at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, Dayle Steinberg said Planned Parenthood was aware of problems at the infamous abortion clinic operated by Kermit Gosnell:
Steinberg said that when Gosnell was in practice, women would sometimes come to Planned Parenthood for services after first visiting Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, and would complain to staff about the conditions there.
“We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health,” Steinberg said as she sat with Steinem before Tuesday’s events.
While this doesn’t make the group responsible for the atrocities that were allegedly committed by Gosnell, it does raise questions as to why an organization avowedly dedicated to protecting the health of women chose not to take any action on its own or to investigate what was going on. As Wesley J. Smith noted at National Review yesterday, it does remind one of the old saying, “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Coming as it does, in the aftermath of a damaging comment by a Florida Planned Parenthood official who thought whether clinic personnel should render medical assistance to a baby born as a result of a botched abortion was an open question, the comments about the ongoing Gosnell trial might have made the group politically toxic. But President Obama owes Planned Parenthood too much to pass on a chance to embrace them.
In 2011, the journalist Mara Hvistendahl published Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men, detailing the societal effects of sex-selective abortions that target women the world over and resulted in the absence of perhaps more than 100 million girls who by now should have been born. But Hvistendahl soon learned the downside to uncovering what many believe to be a shocking trend in human rights offenses: people will want to do something about it. And so she lashed out, declaring that “anti-abortion activists have been at work in a disingenuous game, using the stark reduction of women in the developing world” to argue for pro-life policies that could save those women.
Hvistendahl’s plaint recalled the incredible work of Edwin Black, most notably his book War Against the Weak, which detailed the role American eugenics played in the monstrous ethnic cleansing in Europe in the 20th century culminating in the Holocaust. One of the most important personalities in this terrible saga was the eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood. Yet like Hvistendahl, Black was concerned about the implications of what he had uncovered. In the introduction, he writes: “Opponents of a woman’s right to choose could easily seize upon Margaret Sanger’s eugenic rhetoric to discredit the admirable work of Planned Parenthood today; I oppose such misuse.”
But what Black and Hvistendahl betray in their defensiveness is an awareness that an ideology that supports unlimited (or practically unlimited) abortion has consequences, and those consequences are exacerbated immensely by the fact that the supposedly “progressive” practitioners of such an ideology resort to the denial of human life where it obviously exists. To dehumanize is to invite a world of trouble. And that world of trouble unfortunately empowers evil such as that displayed by the “doctor” Kermit Gosnell, who stands accused of using his Philadelphia abortion practice to provide what is essentially child execution by killing babies who survive an abortion procedure and are born alive.
Georgetown University Law student Sandra Fluke became the poster child for the Democrats faux “war on women” theme this past spring when she was brutally mocked as a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh for whining to Congress about her Catholic university’s refusal to pay for her contraceptives. Fluke has parlayed that foolish insult into a full-time career as a liberal activist and will appear at the Democratic National Convention to denounce the Republicans and urge President Obama’s re-election. Fluke has no interest in the fact that her fight for free contraceptives infringes on the religious liberty of Catholics and others who object to being compelled to pay for services that violate their consciences. She believes her demands trump the constitutional rights of others.
Today, she appeared at a pre-convention Planned Parenthood rally at which she urged women to work for the GOP’s defeat. The group was reportedly disappointed by the poor turnout for the event that was apparently caused by an Occupy Wall Street standoff with police preventing Democrats and activists from getting to the rally. But thanks to Fluke, they got some publicity because of the catchy battle cry she issued to supporters:
She announced her new rule: “No sleep ’til November!” Fluke called on Planned Parenthood supporters to talk to “everyone…if there is one woman or one man who loves women in America who doesn’t understand what these candidates stand for in November,” Planned Parenthood supporters will have failed.
But what exactly does the would-be lawyer mean by that? It might be just an awkward metaphor. But does she expect all women to be pulling all-nighters working at Obama call centers or knocking on doors canvassing? Or is she channeling Greek poet Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, first performed in 411 B.C.E., in which the women of Athens vow to withhold their sexual favors until their men obey their demand to change a state policy?
In a new James O’Keefe-style sting operation on Planned Parenthood, the pro-life organization Live Action set out to prove, and succeeded in doing so, that Planned Parenthood will help any woman abort their fetus for any reason, even the most reprehensible. In previous stings, Live Action caught Planned Parenthood employees accepting donations in order to reduce the number of African Americans born in the United States. This time around, they appear to show that not only will they help a woman abort at the last possible week in order to achieve the desired sex of the baby, but they’ll also give tips on how to manipulate Medicaid in order to do so.
Planned Parenthood, which counts on taxpayer dollars to fill one third of its operating budget, is no stranger to controversy about its questionable ethics and has again refused to apologize for them. The Huffington Post reports:
This spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America also told The Huffington Post that the organization condemns seeking abortions on the basis of gender, but its policy is to provide “high quality, confidential, nonjudgmental care to all who come into” its health centers. That means that no Planned Parenthood clinic will deny a woman an abortion based on her reasons for wanting one, except in those states that explicitly prohibit sex-selective abortions (Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Illinois).
Earlier today, I made the case that Rick Santorum’s language has been intemperate of late. The problem for Mitt Romney is a different one: opportunism. I have in mind, among other things, last week’s debate, when Governor Romney, in criticizing Santorum, said, “Well, I’m looking at [Santorum's] historic record” — including “a whole series of votes. Voting to fund Planned Parenthood…” and more.
This charge is technically correct but incomplete. In fact, it creates an utterly false impression. Santorum voted for a large spending bill that included funding for Planned Parenthood, the kind of difficult and prudential judgment members of Congress are often forced to make. (It helps explain why long-serving members of Congress rarely win the presidency.) But that vote cannot obscure this fact: Santorum has been one of America’s most vocal champions for the pro-life cause, to the point that he opposes abortion even in the case of rape and incest, and we all know he would defund Planned Parenthood in a millisecond if he could have his way. On culture of life issues, Rick Santorum is among the least compromised of all politicians.
Pro-choice groups have been pushing back against a Virginia bill that would require women to undergo ultrasounds before an abortion procedure. The complaints are the ultrasounds are needlessly invasive, not medically necessary, and would be forced on women seeking abortions, even if they don’t want them.
This criticism misses one crucial point: Planned Parenthood policy already requires ultrasounds before abortion procedures.
The ideological extremism of the Obama administration keeps popping up on an almost daily basis, like a game of whack-a-mole. The latest example comes to us courtesy of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Canada, where she was lecturing Canadians on how they should be more pro-abortion.
Secretary Clinton’s comments were made in the context of the Canadian government’s G8 maternal and child health initiative. According to Clinton: “You cannot have maternal health without reproductive health. And reproductive health includes contraception and family planning and access to legal, safe abortion.”
So here’s a question: can you imagine Henry Kissinger or Dean Acheson ever saying such a thing? Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State; she’s not the president of Planned Parenthood. And for an administration that insists it shouldn’t meddle in the internal affairs of other nations — unless it means making life considerably more difficult for our allies like Honduras and Israel — this is quite remarkable.
Or perhaps not. It fits in quite well with those who argue that no administration in history has been quite as radical on quite as many fronts as this one. There have been exceptions, of course, most especially on Obama’s policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. But for the most part, the Obama administration cannot help itself from pushing the most extreme side of a host of issues, whether it comes to spending; or deficits and the debt; or expanding the reach and power of the federal government; or nationalizing health care; or decimating the morale of the CIA; or providing terrorists with unprecedented rights; or bashing our allies; or criticizing America abroad; or promoting abortion in other lands.
All of this is coming together in the minds of the members of the public, which is why November looks like it will be so bad for Democrats, in so many ways.