Friday, September 19, 2008

Mona Charon on abortion extremism

Who is the abortion extremist?

The denial goes very deep. Any number of e-mailers expressed their contemptuous certainty that "born alive" infants were an invention of pro-life activists. ....

.... "Mrs. Stanek testified about another aborted baby who was thought to have had spina bifida, but was delivered with an intact spine. On another occasion, an aborted baby was left to die on the counter of the Utility Room wrapped in a disposable towel." The committee report also quoted Shelly Lowe, a lab technician at Bethesda North Medical Center in Cincinnati. A young woman who had undergone just the first cervix-opening phase of a partial-birth abortion gave birth in the emergency room. The doctor placed the 22-week-old baby in a specimen dish to be taken to the lab. According to the report, when Ms. Lowe "saw the baby girl in the dish she was stunned when she saw the girl gasping for air. 'I don't think I can do that,' Ms. Lowe reportedly said. 'This baby is alive.'" Lowe asked permission to hold the baby until she died. ....

I've received a number of letters .... This one caught my eye: "I am a pediatrician. .... In one instance I was called to pronounce a baby dead who had been born an hour earlier after a failed abortion. We were not called to resuscitate the baby immediately after the delivery as the intent was abortion. … I write to attest that babies are sometimes born alive after abortion and then put aside to die."


Barack Obama is a charming and intelligent man. But there is no other way to interpret his position on BAIPA than this: A woman who chooses an abortion is entitled to a dead child no matter what. That is an abortion extremist.


Santiago Chiva, Granada said...

On the topic of abortion, even many people who defend the possibility of legal abortions, they say they are not pro-abortion, but they don’t want to punish women who are in this difficult situation. In Germany a curious thing has happened. Something that reflects that legal abortion affects adversely to the country. And also that the change is possible: you can promote a culture of life with the support of the citizens, when really there is a real wish of avoid abortions. Since the liberalization of abortion in this country, the number of abortions is officially four million. For that reason, among others, children are seen as an unintended effect of having sex. Many people thought it was necessary to promote greater social acceptance of children in an aging society. And civil society acted, without waiting for action by the State to promote births. They joined several media organizations in a campaign. Interestingly, after the campaign, the birth rate has risen in Germany. The video is exciting. Look here:
Santiago Chiva (Granada, Spain)

Anonymous said...


I had read that the abortion time limit in Germany, France is 12 weeks, 13 weeks in Italy. Is this so? Are there exceptions, how often is the law circumvented?

Anonymous said...


Perhaps you can clarify something for me -- when women are given a poor prenatal prognosis, but are in the 3rd trimester (too old for a standard abortion, and past the legal gestational age of abortion in many states) and are induced pre-term -- is that considered an abortion or not? I've read of numerous women who had or at least were offered such a procedure, and the baby wasn't killed prior to the induction, and sometimes the baby was born alive, but no measures were taken to preserve his or her life, and the babies were allowed to die. In at least two cases, the women held the babies until they died "naturally." Would BAIPA stop this from happening? or require doctors to try to save babies that the parents are trying to get rid of simply because of disability? Are babies that are born alive in "induction abortions" or "live birth abortions" after the point of viability counted as live births or abortions?

If you can help clarify this, I'd appreciate it, because this "gray area" is confusing to me.


Christina Dunigan said...

Kathy, your main concern seems to be not "Is this an abortion?" but "Would BAIPA apply?"

BAIPA would mean that a baby born during an abortion attempt would get the same care as a baby born due to natural causes. So BAIPA would cover those situations in which the goal had been to achieve the death of the baby -- say, a child with Down syndrome or dwarfism or some other non-lethal condition. In other words, the law steps in with outside intent only when the intent of those involved in the delivery is to achieve death for the baby in question.

If the intent had not been to kill the baby, then the doctor and the parents already had no lethal intent toward the child and BAIPA wouldn't have to apply; if the child turned out to be healthier than expected, he or she would be given normal care.

Whether the delivery is considered an abortion or not is entirely a matter of intention. If the intent is to achieve the death of the fetus (including deliberately hastening the death of a child with anencephaly or other condition incompatible with living more than a few days at most) then it's an abortion.

Some parents who get a grave diagnosis choose early induction because they want a chance to hold the baby while he or she is still alive, and they fear that death will take place before term if they wait. These are premature deliveries, not abortions, and the doctors routinely provide appropriate care, especially in cases where they're surprised to find a much healthier baby than they'd anticipated.

It seems grey, until you start to read the individual stories and you start getting a clear picture of what the intent is. There are parents who are going into it wanting to end "it" all -- meaning the suspense and with it the child's life. There are parents who go into it with the intention of maximizing the child's life or minimizing the harm to the mother in cases where she is suffering complications.

Again, it boils down to intent. Which is why BAIPA is necessary. If the intent is to achieve the baby's death, you need somebody there who has the child's best interests at heart and will assess -- based on the child's condition, not the mother's preferences -- what care, if any, is best for the child.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, and that clarifies it a bit. I've been reading stories (on the Be Not Afraid website, and elsewhere) and some women have declined preterm inductions as being morally equivalent to abortions - some received negative but not necessarily lethal diagnoses, and were pressured to have an abortion before 24 weeks, or after that point, to have an induction. Apparently, the doctor's intent was to hasten the death of the child, and certainly to hasten the end of the pregnancy, and the earlier the induction the more definite the baby's death would be, being before viability.

Ugh, so sad that this is even discussed! Prenatal diagnosis can be life-saving, but is so often the harbinger of death to a disabled baby.

Thanks again,