Friday, May 31, 2013

Gosnell, Carhart, and the PBA Ban (Part 4)

In Part 1, I gave some background on post-viability abortions, which were invented by the Supreme Court in 1973. In Part 2, I described the advent of the procedure that came to be known as Partial Birth Abortion. In Part 3, I looked at how the Partial Birth Abortion Ban changed -- albeit only temporarily -- the practice of Philadelphia quack Kermit Gosnell.
Today I'll look at how the ban changed the practice of LeRoy "Meat in a Crock Pot" Carhart.

When Carhart (pictured) challenged the Partial Birth Abortion ban, he testified about what was then his standard abortion practice. Carhart indicated that he tried to grab the baby and get it positioned to where he could suck out the brain without taking the baby apart first. But sometimes, he indicated, the baby would stick a limb out through the cervix, and it was just easier to pull that part off and go from there:
Carhart: My normal course would be to dismember that extremity and then go back and try to take the fetus out either foot or skull first, whatever end I can get to first.

Question: How do you go about dismembering that extremity?

Carhart: Just traction and rotation, grasping the portion that you can get a hold of which would be usually somewhere up the shaft of the exposed portion of the fetus, pulling down on it through the os, using the internal os as your counter-traction and rotating to dismember the shoulder or the hip or whatever it would be. Sometimes you will get one leg and you can’t get the other leg out.

Question: In that situation, are you, when you pull on the arm and remove it, is the fetus still alive?

Carhart: Yes.

Question: Do you consider an arm, for example, to be a substantial portion of the fetus?

Carhart: In the way I read it, I think if I lost my arm, that would be a substantial loss to me. I think I would have to interpret it that way.

Question: And then what happens next after you remove the arm? You then try to remove the rest of the fetus?

Carhart: Then I would go back and attempt to either bring the feet down or bring the skull down, or even sometimes you bring the other arm down and remove that also and then get the feet down.

Question: At what point is the fetus...does the fetus die during that process?

Carhart: I don’t really know. I know that the fetus is alive during the process most of the time because I can see fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound.
When Live Action did an undercover investigation of Carhart recently, he had changed his approach, using a digoxin injection into the baby's heart to make sure that it was dead before he even started the procedure:

Woman: So I'll have a dead baby in me?

Carhart: For three days, yeah.

Woman: Will it start to decompose or something:

Carhart: No. It's like putting meat in a Crock Pot, OK? 
So the PBA ban got Carhart to change the method he used for killing the baby. While we can assume that it's painful for the baby to have a large-bore needle stuck through its chest into its beating heart, that is surely less painful than being dismembered alive and conscious, able to move and put a limb out through the mother's cervix. Though the ban didn't save these babies' lives, it did provide them with a somewhat more merciful death.

Carhart also indicated to the Live Action investigator that he was careful to follow the law. He did not break the Nebraska law by perpetrating abortions past the legal limit, but instead had those patient travel to Maryland, where he could legally perform elective abortions through 26 weeks. Left to himself, Carhart is not a lawbreaker.

He did, however, perpetrate illegal third-trimester abortions in Kansas while he was working for infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller. Carhart perpetrated the illegal third-trimester abortion that killed Christin Gilbert (pictured). However, Tiller was able to maintain a clinic where such illegal abortions were openly perpetrated because of his tremendous political clout. He had no less a personage than the Governor protecting him. Carhart evidently has not on his own initiate cultivated such relationships in the states where he is practicing now. Whether he would do so if abortion were banned entirely is open to speculation.

Odds are that Carhart could be kept in check by clearly written laws that distinguished between direct abortion (deliberately killing the baby) and indirect abortion (performing a procedure necessary to protect the mother's live but which necessitated delivering the baby prior to viability). The law would have to include clear and severe penalties for deliberately killing the baby. This would make it extremely difficult for even the Governor to get the doctor out of trouble if a local prosecutor went after the lawbreaker. 

Carhart's age (he was born in 1941) makes it likely that were his livelihood to be taken away, he would just retire. However, is is a tireless advocate for abortion -- particularly post-viability abortions -- so he would still be trying to pull political strings and would have to be monitored and thwarted in his efforts to remove protection from unborn babies and their vulnerable mothers.

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