By Marc A. Thiessen,
The Washington Post
Testifying against a Florida bill that would require abortionists to provide emergency medical care to an infant who survives an abortion, Planned Parenthood lobbyist Alisa LaPolt Snow was asked point blank: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?” She replied: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”
Jaws in the committee room dropped. Asked again, she repeated her answer.
Only after a firestorm erupted in the conservative media did Planned Parenthood issued a statement that in the “extremely unlikely and highly unusual” event that a baby were born alive it would “provide appropriate care to both the woman and the infant.” That is debatable, since a Planned Parenthood counselor has been caught on tape admitting that the organization leaves infants born alive after an abortion to die. But if Planned Parenthood really does provide such care, why was it lobbying against a bill requiring such care in the first place?
The fact is, it is not as unusual for children to be left to die after a failed abortion as some might think. Right now in Philadelphia, abortionist Kermit Gosnell is on trial for the murder of seven infants who were born alive. According to District Attorney Seth Williams, Gosnell “induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord.” Prosecutors said that Gosnell ended hundreds of pregnancies in this way. “These killings became so routinethat no one could put an exact number on them. They were considered ‘standard procedure.’ ”
Across the border in Canada, the government reports that between 2000 and 2009, 491 babies were left to die after they were born alive during abortions. There are no similar statistics here in the United States, but according to the Abortion Survivors Network there are an estimated 44,000 abortion survivors living in the country today. How many more did not survive for lack of medical care?
Recently a major motion picture, October Baby, told the true story of one abortion survivor in search of her birth mother and of her struggle to forgive her. The woman depicted in the movie, Gianna Jessen, testified before Congress about why she lived after her mother underwent a saline abortion: “Fortunately for me the abortionist was not in the clinic when I arrived alive... I was early.... I am sure I would not be here today if the abortionist would have been in the clinic, as his job is to take life, not sustain it.”
Amazingly, some argue that killing babies like Gianna is morally permissible. Recently two bioethicists, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, published a paper in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Ethics entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” They wrote: “[W]hen circumstances occur after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible. … [W]e propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide,’ to emphasize that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus … rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.”
This is Orwellian. The term “after-birth abortion” is an oxymoron. You can’t kill an unborn child after it has been born.
The fact that Planned Parenthood aggressively lobbies against legislation requiring medical care for such children is appalling. The fact that a Planned Parenthood official testified that killing such children is permissible is shocking. And the fact that most major media outlets — including The Post —all but ignored her comments is distressing.
Our country is deeply divided over the question of abortion. But can we not all at least agree that killing a born child is murder — not a question that “should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician”?
Read more from Marc Thiessen’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.
Read more from Opinions: George Will: Johns Hopkins’s and Planned Parenthood’s troubling extremism