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There's often a world of difference between intent and effect. It's referred to as "The law of unintended consequences." And while it's plain to many people that Obama's vote against the Born Alive Infants Protection Act had the effect of fostering infanticide, we can't know that this was Obama's intent.
He might simply have taken at face value things his friends at NOW, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood have told him. Many of us in the prolife movement can remember foregone times when we trusted one or more of those organizations. Many prochoicers still do trust them.
So, let's give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt here. I'm going to do a multi-post feature looking at Obama's statements and assessing them in a charitable light.
He makes the point that when a baby is born alive during an abortion, a doctor has already "made that assessment" -- presumably that the baby in question isn't "viable" -- that is, able to survive outside the womb. But if the baby is born alive, the doctor in question has already established in a pretty palpable way that his clinical judgment isn't all it's cracked up to be. He already thought the baby wouldn't survive the abortion process. Now are we to trust him to judge the baby's chance of survival when she's already proved to be much more tenacious of life than he expected?
Obama indicates that it's somehow just burdensome to bring a second doctor in, after the abortion doctor has made his assessment: an assessment that has been proved to be flawed.
As if doctors are all the same. As if a second opinion is never called for.
Imagine for a moment that your wife, daughter, or sister is in a car crash. She's brought into the emergency room with a serious head injury. A doctor examines her, tells you that there is no hope, and hands you papers for organ donation.
This doctor is telling you that your loved one's brain injury is fatal. If that doctor is a neurosurgeon, how much would you trust the assessment? What if the doctor isn't a neurosurgen, but an ob/gyn? Would you want him making that call?
Probably not. He might be the best ob/gyn in the world, but brain surgery is tricky business. You'd want a specialist, somebody with experience assessing patients with brain injuries.
Some areas of medicine are fairly simple, and don't really require a specialist. Probably just about any doctor can set a simple fracture, drain an abscessed toenail, or treat your poison ivy. But for a brain injury, you're rightly going to want a specialist, with intensive specialized training and extensive specialized experience. The same goes with preemies -- especially the micropreemies that can be expected in an abortion-triggered birth. These tiny babies are not easy to assess and care for. They require a very high level of skill and clinical judgment. Only neonatologists are qualified to assess and care for them.
The doctor making the initial assessment in an abortion is likely an ob/gyn, though he might be a psychiatrist or dermatologist or ENT. There's no requirement that abortions be performed by ob/gyns. But let's for the sake of argument assume that he is an ob/gyn.
Ob/gyns who are providing care to women who don't intend to abort routinely concede that assessing and caring for critically ill, premature, or injured babies isn't their speciality. They have sense enough, when the mother loves and wants her baby, to call in an expert to make an expert assessment.
But Obama is asserting that in the case of an infant born during an abortion, the usual standard of care -- to have a neonatologist assess the premature and/or injured baby -- suddenly doesn't apply. In abortion cases, and abortion cases alone, Obama asserts, the ob/gyn's skill is adequate to assess and care for that baby.
But to reiterate, the ob/gyn in question has already shown poor clinical judgment in his own specialty by trying to abort a baby strong enough to survive the procedure.
Obama isn't necessarily endorsing infanticide of babies born during abortions. He might not even have thought through the fact that he's stating that a lesser standard of care is adequate. It might simply never have occurred to him that a premature baby needs a neonatologist, not an obstetrician.
It doesn't show murderous intent. But it shows poor judgment and lack of reasoning. And it still leaves babies in the lurch if they're born after an abortion.