Abortion is an unpleasant business. It’s tragic, messy, traumatising, and unfortunately necessary in some circumstances. Emotions run especially deep in the case of late term abortions since the loss of potential is almost tangible. This is what makes the Kermit Gosnell case so shocking.
For those who may not know, Kermit Gosnell was recently sentenced to life imprisonment of first degree murder over the deaths of three babies and count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a woman.
To me this is a case of the justice system working. Here is a man who did not just perform abortions – he coldly killed babies who survived the abortion procedure. It is this distinction which landed Gosnell is prison for the remainder of his days.
In response to the announcement of the Gosnell case, the Australian Christian Lobby issued a press release:
MEDIA RELEASE Thursday, 16th May, 2013 The Australian Christian Lobby is calling for investigations into babies being left to die after being born alive following failed late term abortions. The call comes as US abortionist Kermit Gosnell was given life in prison after being found guilty of murdering three babies who survived abortion attempts. ACL spokesperson Wendy Francis said Dr Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, as well as over 200 violations of Pennsylvania’s abortion laws, including the performance of late-term abortions. “Dr Gosnell’s case has shocked people worldwide on both sides of the abortion debate,” Mrs Francis said. “The level of brutality involved is unfathomable, with eyewitness accounts of babies who were born alive crying in pain before having their spines snipped with scissors.” Although this is an extreme case, Mrs Francis says the barbaric treatment of babies born alive after failed abortions is happening in our own country. “There was the infamous 1998 case in Darwin, when baby Jessica Jane was born alive at about 22-24 weeks after a failed abortion and left to die after crying alone for 80 minutes,” she said. “The most recent Annual Report of Victoria’s Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity shows that, of a total of 196 post-20 week abortions performed for ‘congenital abnormality’, 42 of the babies died after birth,” Mrs Francis said. “Even before the 2008 liberalisation of abortion laws, in 2007 there were 52 neonatal deaths out of 181 post-20 week abortions for ‘abnormalities’.” “The appalling case of Kermit Gosnell should awaken Australians to the fact that the same horrors are happening under our own noses,” said Mrs Francis. “Late-term abortions are failing, and babies are being left alone to die even when they could be saved.” “The circumstances of these cases in Australia must be investigated, and we must ensure that this practice is not more widespread,” Mrs Francis said.
Wendy Francis rightly points out that the Gosnell case shocked “both sides” of the debate, but tragically gets almost everything else wrong.
Unfortunately for Wendy Francis I looked up and read the 1998 Jessica Jane case. You can too since the Corner’s findings can be found here.
“The procedure was necessitated, in the opinion of Dr Cho, by concerns for the mother and not because of any foetal abnormalities.”page 5, Inquest into the death of Jessica Jane  NTMC 37
The case involves a women who found herself in the tragic situation of having to terminate her pregnancy. However, after the procedure was complete the nurse was shocked to hear the baby cry. This is where Wendy’s account of things goes badly off the rails.
Rather than leave the baby to die “crying alone for 80 minutes” the nurse wrapped her in a blanket, tried to raise assistance (it was 4AM), attended to the mother who was experiencing further difficulty, and checked on the baby every 10 to 15 minutes.
“I could not just leave it like we do with some, in a kidney dish, and I put it into a warm rug and put a drape over the top of it so at least it was warm. During all this time I’d been back and checked it about every 10, 15 minutes.”page 7, Inquest into the death of Jessica Jane  NTMC 37
Wendy Francis says:
“Late-term abortions are failing, and babies are being left alone to die even when they could be saved.”
However, the corner’s report Wendy references says the complete opposite.
“The evidence established that the deceased was fully born in a living state. In the 80 minutes of her life she had a separate and independent existence to her mother.” – page 20, Inquest into the death of Jessica Jane  NTMC 37
Here the Corner is stating that Jessica was an independent person capable of living separate from here mother, but he goes further:
“In my view, the fact that her birth was unexpected and not the desired outcome of the medical procedure, should not result in her, and babies like her, being perceived as anything less than a complete human being.”page 20, Inquest into the death of Jessica Jane  NTMC 37
Since the foetus survived the abortion procedure (and is clearly capable of living independently) we should treat her as a full human being.
The report continues:
“The deceased having been born alive deserved all the dignity, respect and value that our society places on human life.”page 20, Inquest into the death of Jessica Jane  NTMC 37
So here we have the Corner saying that babies born from failed abortions should be treated as full human beings with all the rights, dignity, care, and respect that we would give to any other person. The circumstances of their life make no difference in these cases.
If the findings of the coronial inquest are followed, and the tireless doctors and nurses are living up to their humanitarian pledge, the 42 babies which died after birth where given every possible chance to live. This is a much different picture to Wendy’s cries of “babies being left alone to die even when they could be saved.”