A recent Wall Street Journal article written by Peter Loftus and Louise Radnofsky entitled: “Abortion Doctor Convicted of Murder in Baby Deaths”, reports that a Philadelphia abortion doctor was declared to be guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive.
The hot abortion debate was caused by a horrible case of 2009 when Kermit Gosnell, 72 years old, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 sedation-overdose death of a 41-year-old woman during an abortion procedure. Dr. Gosnell was found not guilty on a third-degree-murder charge in the woman’s death, and he was acquitted of first-degree murder of a fourth baby.
Dr. Gosnell can get the death penalty when the jury will return next week to reach its verdict on his case.
Opponents and supporters of abortion rights have seized on Dr. Gosnell’s case. Antiabortion activists, accusing Dr. Gosnell of the violence in terminating pregnancies, believe the issue of late-term abortions could influence Americans who support abortion rights. They believe there are at least some instances in which abortion should be illegal.
Other opinion accuses restrictive laws in Pennsylvania and many other states, where women with low-income have few possibilities to obtain quality care they need. That is why “inexpensive” Dr. Gosnell became so popular for poor and desperate women, despite his practice could be illegal, unethical and unsafe.
Dr. Gosnell also was convicted of several counts of performing illegal abortions past Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit and other charges. At first, he had been charged in the deaths of 7 babies but was acquitted of three of the murder counts because of insufficient evidence the babies were born alive.
Clinic workers testified that Dr. Gosnell allowed his clinic to become unsanitary and that he didn’t properly supervise staff. There were witnesses who confirmed some babies were still moving, whimpering or breathing before their spinal cords were severed.
In the court were presented some of the equipment from the clinic, which was substandard, and a picture of one of the babies who was killed after being born alive.
Dr. Gosnell’s lawyer, John McMahon, had argued about the claims. He said fetuses were injected with a drug designed to cause fetal demise before labor was induced. He noted some clinic workers testified the babies didn’t appear to be alive after birth. Mr. McMahon said movement in babies’ limbs could have been because of postmortem spasms.
For some states this case will be a push to pass legislation echoing the federal requirement. Florida lawmakers have already passed a measure in April to give infants delivered with signs of life during or immediately after an attempted abortion “the same rights, powers, and privileges as any other child born alive in course of natural birth.”
Here are some facts about Abortion Law and Policy presented by the Guttmacher Institute (AGI):
• In the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court ruled that women, in consultation with their physician, have a constitutionally protected right to have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy—that is, before viability—free from government interference.
• In 1992, the Court reaffirmed the right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. However, the ruling significantly weakened the legal protections previously afforded women and physicians by giving states the right to enact restrictions that do not create an “undue burden” for women seeking abortion. Thirty-five states currently enforce parental consent or notification laws for minors seeking an abortion. The Supreme Court ruled that minors must have an alternative to parental involvement, such as the ability to seek a court order authorizing the procedure.
• Even without specific parental involvement laws, six in 10 minors who have an abortion report that at least one parent knew about it.
• Congress has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds to pay for abortions, except when the woman’s life would be endangered by a full-term pregnancy or in cases of rape or incest.
• Seventeen states use public funds to pay for abortions for some poor women, but only four do so voluntarily; the rest do so under a court order. About 20% of abortion patients report using Medicaid to pay for abortions (virtually all in states where abortion services are paid for with state dollars).
• In 2006, publicly funded family planning services helped women avoid 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, which would likely have resulted in about 860,000 unintended births and 810,000 abortions.
Why do women have abortions?
74% say having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.
73% say they cannot afford to have a child.
48% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner.
Less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.