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Friday, April 12, 2013

Confronting the Story -- but First, Reporting It

Let me start with what I consider, at this point, beyond debate where Dr. Kermit Gosnell's abortion clinic is concerned:

(1) What apparently went on in that clinic was appalling, abhorrent, and utterly reprehensible;
(2) This is in every conceivable sense a newsworthy story.

Guilt, for criminal law purposes, has not been established, but the available evidence is quite enough to trigger -- to compel -- discussion.

The unsanitary conditions, racially discriminatory treatment, and general disregard of medical standards form a secondary backdrop to the criminally negligent treatment of expectant mothers, which again is less shocking than the repeated killing (by scissors severing spinal cords) of viable fetuses inconveniently born alive.

There is no nonpolitical explanation for the failure of major news outlets (other than Fox) to cover this story that comes close to passing the laugh test. The only plausible explanation is the pro-choice stance of those who decide what stories to feature. But avoiding this story on such a basis is terribly short-sighted. The void is filled by those who oppose all abortion, and seize this opportunity to suggest moral equivalency between an alleged serial murderer of viable infants and any doctor who performs abortions at any stage and under any circumstances.

It is probably time to show my own hand. I believe the slogan "My body, my choice" applies much more neatly to the issues of drug use and lifestyle choice (e.g. Big Gulp sodas and riding a motorcycle without a helmet) than it does to the presence of what is from its inception a separate, though dependent, biological entity. While I am, at present, somewhat reluctantly in favor of a woman's right to choose abortion in the early stages of a pregnancy, I cannot condone abortion -- as opposed to delivery -- of a possibly viable fetus. Moreover, as medical technology advances, I believe the time will come when any fetus and perhaps any embryo can be sustained and nurtured in an artificial environment -- and when that time does come, we as a society may have to find alternatives to abortion. In any case where there are parents waiting to adopt the infant-to-be, and can afford to pay for its interim care, they should perhaps have the right to do so. Where no adoptive parent exists, this may become a collective societal responsibility. While this option would be emotionally painful to many of the biological mothers, I do not believe we can ethically protect them from that pain at the cost of discarding new life that no longer depends on them for survival.

Enough of my own views. It behooves any of us who are not ready to ban all abortion to consider how we may continue to allow it, with what safeguards and limitations, without cheapening human life to the point where we slide down the proverbial slippery slope into the bloody shambles of Dr. Gosnell's workshop.

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