Pro-Life, Pro-Choice? How About Pro-Health?
I just finished reading a 281-page document prepared by the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) grand jury regarding a criminal prosecution case against Kermit Gosnell and several members of his staff. Gosnell operated a "pain management" clinic (by day) and an abortion clinic (by night) for decades in a manner that would be considered, at best, barbaric and medieval.
Grand jury document: http://www.phila.gov/districtattorney/PDFs/GrandJuryWomensMedical.pdf
In the grand jury's manifesto can be found numerous atrocities committed by Gosnell and his staff with regard to the abortions they performed. While loosely operating within the most lax confines of the law when he originally started his practice, Gosnell quickly moved into the realm of performing highly illegal, excruciatingly painful, and blatantly murderous abortions. In Pennsylvania, abortions are prohibited by law after a woman has reached the 24 week gestation period. Babies born after this period are considered to be early pre-term, and have a slim chance of surviving outside the womb with proper medical care. Gosnell and his staff would routinely perform abortions after 24 weeks and up to as late as 30 weeks.
For those who don't know, a pregnancy is divided into trimesters comprised of 12 weeks per trimester, and there are three trimesters in a full-term pregnancy, with normal delivery to occur around the 36th week. Many states have laws in place to prohibit abortions (where abortion is legal) after a certain period, usually any time after the first trimester. Most abortion providers also have their own policies in place regarding when an abortion can be performed. Generally, abortions performed in the second or third trimester are only done when the life of the mother is in jeopardy and she could possibly die if she carries the fetus to term, or if the fetus has been irrevocably injured to a degree that it would not have any chance at survival outside the womb. In some cases, these abortions are called "partial birth abortions" and have been federally prohibited for several years.
Gosnell's practice originally involved primarily first trimester abortions, with a small number of early second trimester procedures. However, the unsanitary conditions in his clinic and the unprofessional conduct of his uncertified, unlicensed, and untrained staff eventually chased away many women seeking a medically safe procedure. As time passed, his practice evolved into performing second (and third) trimester abortions almost exclusively, and his clientele were largely minorities.
The "standard" procedure employed at Gosnell's clinic violated Pennsylvania law in every way imaginable, and had been known to Pennsylvania authorities for over a decade...yet nothing was done, no investigations were conducted, and no on-site inspections were performed. The ONLY reason his abortion practice was shut down last year was because the DEA was investigating Gosnell for prescription abuses (he was one of the top three prescribers of oxycodone in Pennsylvania). Had he left his practice operating solely as an abortion clinic, he would likely still be murdering living, breathing newborns today.
As stated in the grand jury document, which provides testimonial evidence from several of Gosnell's employees, including a 15-year old high school student, the typical abortion procedure consisted of dosing a woman with a drug that softens the cervix, inserting laminaria rods into her cervix (which cause it to expand), providing a near overdose of pain medications, and waiting until the woman's body expelled the fetus (basically, it would fall out due to the drugs and cervical enlargement; or Gosnell's staff would push on the woman's stomach to force delivery). Gosnell was almost never present for ANY of the procedures, did not supervise any administrations of medication, and had "trained" his staff in the "proper procedure" for assuring "fetal demise" after the infant was delivered.
How did they ensure fetal demise, you might ask? After the fetus was expelled...quite often as a breathing, moving, living newborn baby...Gosnell or one of his staff would then use a pair of scissors and stab the infant in the back of the neck and sever the spinal cord. By the way, this doesn't always cause death...as any quadriplegic with a severed spinal cord can attest to. It does, however, cause an excruciating amount of pain, and the still living infant is then left to die from exsanguination (loss of blood) or severe brain damage resulting in death. After stabbing the newborn babies in the back of the neck and cutting their spinal cords, the "medical" staff at Gosnell's clinic would then put the bodies of the dead babies in whatever containers were available; shoeboxes, milk jugs, plastic bags...and leave them laying around for days or weeks at a time (because Gosnell never paid his infectious waste disposal bills).
The abortion issue is one that has long been highly controversial, with vocal extremists on either side of the fence. Pro-life advocates believe that every fetus is a person and should have an opportunity at life, whether it's mother wants it or not. Pro-choice advocates believe a woman's body is her own personal property and she should do with it as she pleases, including having an unborn fetus forcefully removed. I imagine that the fact that the issue IS so controversial is part of the reason why Pennsylvania's various enforcement agencies ignored Gosnell's clinic for so long, but whether it's a socially controverisal issue or not, there were still laws in place regarding its operation that were blatantly ignored.
Despite how the pro-life/pro-choice supporters and detractors feel, one thing should override any personal opinions, social debate topics, or political motivations, and that should be the health and well-being of the woman who is undergoing the procedure. Castigate her for her choices if you wish, or praise her for her ownership of her own body...but either way, HER life is more important than YOUR personal feelings. At the hands of Kermit Gosnell, however, no one's life or health was sacred or even halfheartedly considered.
Yes, there are alternatives to abortion that a woman can choose...but women will still choose abortion, whether it's legal or not. Just like teenagers will continue to choose sex and experimentation with drugs. Would you rather your teenager experiment with sex in safe way, by using condoms or birth control pills, after a mature and rational discussion about precautions and consequences...or would you simply tell them "No!" without any further discussion and have them come home a month later, no more knowledgeable than they were before, with a sexually transmitted disease and a baby on the way?
Gosnell engaged in the practice of wholesale murder by killing newborn children and using "abortion" as his excuse for doing so. However, abortion is the process of surgically removing a non-viable fetus (meaning that it wouldn't have any chance of surviving outside the womb at that stage of pregnancy) from within a womb. Stabbing a breathing infant in the back of the neck and severing its spinal cord is murder, plain and simple.
People need to get off their soapboxes and high horses and get the sticks out of their asses and step back and take an objective look at things they feel so single-mindedly strong about. Hate or love abortion. Have one or don't. Make choices for YOUR body and YOUR life instead of trying to impose your own views on other people and force your own opinions upon someone else's bodies. Write a blog, petition your local congressman, join a peaceful movement. But when women and children are dying because lawmakers, law enforcers, politicians, and authoritarian agencies are afraid of people's opinions, THIS is a problem that should be seriously addressed.