Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Cynics Debate While Babies Die


Sanford Levinson and Jack Balkin smugly "debate" Roe v. Wade as the TimesOnline reports on babies who survive abortion attempts (emphasis added by me):
A GOVERNMENT agency is launching an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive [in the UK] after botched National Health Service abortions. . . .

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which regulates methods of abortion, has also mounted its own investigation.

Its guidelines say that babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days of gestation should have their hearts stopped by an injection of potassium chloride before being delivered. In practice, few doctors are willing or able to perform the delicate procedure.

For the abortion of younger foetuses, labour is induced by drugs in the expectation that the infant will not survive the birth process. Guidelines say that doctors should ensure that the drugs they use prevent such babies being alive at birth.

In practice, according to Stuart Campbell, former professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s hospital, London, a number do survive.

“They can be born breathing and crying at 19 weeks’ gestation,” he said. “I am not anti-abortion, but as far as I am concerned this is sub-standard medicine.” [Sub-standard because the abortions are botched, that is: ED.]

The number of terminations carried out in the 18th week of pregnancy or later has risen from 5,166 in 1994 to 7,432 last year. Prenatal diagnosis for conditions such as Down’s syndrome is increasing and foetuses with the condition are routinely aborted, even though many might be capable of leading fulfilling lives. . . .

“If a baby is born alive following a failed abortion and then dies (because of lack of care), you could potentially be charged with murder,” said Shantala Vadeyar, a consultant obstetrician at South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, who led the study. [And in a civilized society you would be charged with murder for carrying out an abortion: ED.] . . . .

The issue will be highlighted by Gianna Jessen, 28, who survived an attempt to abort her. She is to speak at a parliamentary meeting on December 6 organised by the Alive and Kicking campaign, which is lobbying for a reduction of the abortion limit to 18 weeks.

Jessen, a musician from Nashville, Tennessee, was left with cerebral palsy but is to run in the London marathon next April to raise funds for fellow sufferers.

“If abortion is about women’s rights, then what were my rights?” she asked.

“If people are going to talk about abortion, then it’s important for them to know that these are babies that can be born alive and survive.”

Lizards like Levinson and Balkin don't seem to care about the gruesomeness of abortion or the lives it takes. Their only concern is with how to use the abortion issue to put more Democrats in office. Thus Levinson opens the so-called debate by condescending to working-class Republicans, whom he cannot imagine as proponents of economic liberty and opponents of the welfare state, and impugning the motives of anti-abortion Republican politicians:
. . . I have often referred to Roe as "the gift that keeps on giving" inasmuch as it has served to send many good, decent, committed largely (though certainly not exclusively) working-class voters into the arms of a party that works systematically against their material interests but is willing to pander to their serious value commitment to a "right to life."

Why do I say "pander"? The reason is simple: Most (though certainly not all) Republicans, including, quite possibly, both Presidents Bush, are absolutely cynical in their professed regard for the "right to life." The expression of such a regard is a good vote-getter, but professional politicians are well aware that most of the country in fact supports the clumsy compromises stumbled into over the past 30 years, largely through the aegis of Sandra Day O'Connor. I am convinced that the last thing that Karl Rove desires is the return of abortion to the unfettered world of politics, where the Republican Party would actually have to take responsibility for defining policies regarding reproductive choice instead of being able to posture in the knowledge that the Supreme Court will invalidate many, perhaps most, egregious limits on choice. (Why do you think, for example, that President Bush, who is eager to embrace the pernicious proposal to constitutionalize a view of marriage as uniquely heterosexual, has totally failed to support any proposal to overturn Roe by amendment?)
And Balkin agrees. The Levinson-Balkin "debate" has nothing to do with the wrongness of Roe v. Wade or abortion (both of them support it) and everything to do with how Democrats might gain if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

As for Levinson's "evidence" that Bush & Co. use the abortion issue cynically, Bush knows two things about Roe: (1) It can be vitiated, if not overturned, by a Supreme Court that's in the right hands (which is where it seems to be headed). (2) Abortion is "popular" -- relative to homosexual marriage -- so a proposed anti-abortion amendment is unlikely to go very far and, therefore, is likely to be unnecessarily divisive. Levinson is surely bright enough to have grasped both points, but not honest enough to acknowledge them. Moreover, Levinson surely knows that Bush's anti-abortion stance is based on strongly held religious views -- views about which Levinson probably scoffs privately. The cynic is Levinson, not Bush.

(Thanks to my daughter-in-law for the link to the TimesOnline story.)

UPDATE: A post by Leon H at RedState.org recounts the many gruesome and painful ways in which abortions are accomplished:

Today, Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D) granted clemency to Robin Leavitt, thus saving him from the death penalty. This is front-page news because Levitt would have been the 1,000th person legally executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, a period of almost 30 years....

Today, this very day, approximately 3,013 unborn children were killed. Since 1976, approximately 38 million unborn children have been killed. Nearly all of them have had their own heartbeats. Most have had fully formed (if undeveloped) organ systems. Many of them have felt pain, and some of them have surely been conscious. By "some," I mean a number several orders of magnitude larger than 999.

None of them had an opportunity to make a defense to a jury of their peers. None of them were provided a lawyer if they could not afford one - which is irrelevant, because there were no trials. No appellate review for the decision to end their life was available. Even those that were conscious were given no effective warning of their death sentence at all.

They were put to death by methods that would shock the conscience of the most calloused observer - Potassium Chloride shots to the heart, suction devices designed to pulverize the fetus into pieces, cut into pieces with knives and sucked out of the womb (D & C), dismemberment by forceps, saline poisoning (usually taking more than an hour), or scissors through the back of the skull.