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Enabling Abortion by Default

The stories about abortionist Kermit Gosnell are gut-wrenching. But will the shock effect last?

Gosnell is accused of taking the lives of seven babies born alive and he overdosed a young woman who died at his hands. Some writers suggest that it is the pro-abortion side of the discussion that enabled his dastardly deeds, yet an honest assessment of history exposes a painful truth. The pro-life movement’s political maneuvering bears much of the blame as well.

History tells the tale.

January 22, 1973: Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority of the United States Supreme Court, stated, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

February 15, 1975: The city was Boston, Massachusetts. After a trial during which testimony was heard about abortionist Kenneth Edelin and the born-alive infant whom he allowed to die following an abortion he performed, Edelin was found guilty of manslaughter. Time magazine reported the courtroom was stunned. The implication of the conviction was, “A fetus approaching viability is a person and, as such, is entitled to the full protection of the law.”

Edelin appealed his conviction and eventually it was overturned by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He was hailed by pro-abortion groups across the nation, and in 2008 he was awarded the Margaret Sanger Award by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In its tribute, PPFA explained that an “all white” jury had convicted this black abortionist. It went on to say, “One of the heroes of the reproductive rights movement, Dr. Edelin’s lifelong commitment to women’s health and rights truly embody the values and courage of Margaret Sanger.”

The Edelin conviction occurred 36 years ago and in the intervening period of time many such practitioners of death have maimed expectant mothers, killed preborn children and made a living doing one of the most heinous things any human being can think of—taking the lives of babies.

During the same period, many in the pro-life movement’s ranks have focused on regulating abortion, reducing the number of abortions and making sure that most abortions are not paid for with tax dollars. These efforts are logical and certainly worthwhile, but are they getting the job done?

Let’s face it, in cases like those involving the Edelins and Gosnells of the world, regulation and denial of government subsidy is not enough. 

Callous disregard for innocent human beings continues unabated while we pat ourselves on the back, celebrate a new majority in Congress and tell ourselves things are going to be different now. Are they really?

In 1973, Blackmun challenged the entire country to consider what would happen to Roe v. Wade if personhood for the preborn child were established.

In 1975, Edelin was found guilty of the cold blooded murder of a baby born alive after an abortion and the media screeched that the child was considered a person. Edelin’s conviction was later overturned. 

In 2007, the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which stated that most dilation and extraction abortions (commonly known as partial-birth abortion) were against the law. In that decision, the Court recommended alternative methods for aborting the same children.

In 2011, editorial writers and commentators—salivating for a new twist on the 38-year-old abortion debate—found Gosnell a worthy subject and exposed his little shop of horrors.

But what difference do these landmarks make other than to teach us that we are losing ground? The babies are numbers on a counting machine, check marks on a voter survey, dead people who don’t even receive a decent burial.Something dramatic needs to happen to restore awareness in the public arena. Each child is a person, and we must begin to speak and act like we know that each innocent preborn child has human rights that must not be denied. 

We must commit ourselves to victory and therefore we must remember:
You don’t regulate murder! 
You don’t publicly proclaim your commitment to making murder rare! 
You make sure that murder is always defined by law as a crime!

Let’s resolve to achieve this goal and never default on our obligation to God and the preborn.