Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

S.E. Cupp on Gosnell

Here is something that might suprise some of our readers.  MSNBC's S.E. Cupp, if I heard her correctly, just said a number of things about the Gosnell case that are reminiscent of points that Robby and I both have made here on previous occasions.  This was during her 'Per S.E.' segment on MSNBC's 'The Cycle', just before 4pm EST.  It does not yet appear to be web-available, but I'll link to it later if/when it finds its way there.  Meanwhile, here is Ms. Cupp's 'Tweet' in anticipation of the program.  Ms. Cupp's remarks also dovetail nicely with another line of thought that one often encounters in connection with questions like those that the Gosnell case raises - namely, that advances in science and medicine might well be taking us to a point at which the miracle that is life will be very difficult indeed to turn our backs upon.  


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SE Cupp is the conservative voice on the program. What are we supposed to be surprised about?

Posted by: Joe | May 7, 2013 6:08:48 PM

S.E. Cupp's commentary is available here: http://tinyurl.com/d8gh522

Those who are pro-life want an end to all abortions, and they have wanted that since long before the grand jury indicted Gosnell. So it is unclear to me how the Gosnell case gives any new ammunition against *legal* abortion. It is not new information that under the abortion laws of some states, it is legal to kill a fetus just minutes before an abortion but illegal to kill it once it is born alive. So the lesson of the Gosnell case for those who are pro-life would seem to be that abortion must be prohibited—exactly what they thought before.

For those who are pro-choice, it seems to me their conclusion would be that (in Pennsylvania, at least), current laws should be enforced. If legislation is needed to mandate regular inspection of abortion clinics, or to require that every complaint against an abortion clinic must be investigated in an open and transparent manner, I don't see how anyone could object. S.E. Cupp seems to feel those who claim no new regulations are needed are somehow hypocritical because they (presumably) are the same ones who demand tighter gun control legislation every time there is a shocking gun crime. Her reply (as I understood it) is that guns and abortion are different, because legal gun use doesn't end in death but legal abortion does. But I believe that those who are pro-choice simply disagree with that, otherwise they would be pro-life. If it were widely believed that a "true" person died as the result of every abortion, then I don't think abortion would be legal.

The problem area for those who are pro-choice, if there is one, would seem to be the legality of abortion after viability. I think (although I have no polls or statistics to prove it) that most who are pro-choice would agree that for late-term abortions, killing a viable fetus inside the womb just so it will be dead when it is aborted is not much different from aborting it and killing it afterward. I think given that, a great many who are pro-choice would agree that the only reason to allow legal abortion after viability is if the mother will suffer serious harm or death if an abortion is not performed. As I understand it, various court rulings stand in the way of narrowing the meaning of "life or health" of the mother. Even so, some states (and Pennsylvania is one) that if an abortion is to be performed when the fetus is viable, it must be performed using the abortion technique that is least likely to result in the death of the fetus. In addition to that, some states mandate that a second doctor must be present in post-viability abortions to care for the infant if it should be born alive. So the states' hands are not completely tied by the courts' broad interpretation of "life and health of the mother."

Posted by: David | May 7, 2013 7:17:09 PM

So, she starts with the lie that the outrage is "starting to come," including from liberal voices. Liberal voices, especially feminist pro-choice ones, have been speaking out for awhile. http://www.salon.com/2013/04/12/there_is_no_gosnell_coverup/

Then, she mentions he is charged with "third trimester abortions." No, he accused of performing illegal abortions and also killing live infants (and a woman as I recall) illegally. If a third trimester abortion is required for the life or health of the mother -- and a small few are -- it is not illegal.

This is in the first thirty seconds. Then, she wonders why "new legislation" isn't being pushed to address what he did. Why? The problem was not lack of legislation. It was lack of proper enforcement. What NEW laws is needed?

She then brings up gun control advocates in a negative light. She says legal use of guns don't lead to mass shootings. Oh? You mean like the legal ownership of guns that you leave available for your mentally unstable child to seize? Legal gun use also leads to accidents, including deaths, putting aside those who misuse the guns legally available. Why is abortion different there?

She notes numbers (12?) who died of abortion complications. The CDC says "Sadly, about 650 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/MaternalInfantHealth/Pregnancy-relatedMortality.htm This was the point in Roe: early abortion is as safe or safer than childbirth.

She says "why oppose bills that require appropriate care for born alive" children? The laws already in place protect such people. Yes, they are born alive and are clearly people, unless maybe if you are Peter Singer or something. Gosnell after all is on trial in part because of such laws!

She then notes the extreme change in medical knowledge since Roe. More babies survive while being premature. By her own numbers 98.7% of abortions occur before this time. And, under Roe, you can block -- except to protect the life and health of the girl/women -- abortions that occur at this point.

She then notes that for pro-life people abortions are horrifying at "any" number of weeks. I don't think this is necessarily true. I think even some who are pro-life would not be 'horrified' if a thirteen year old had an abortion at one week. People draw lines in various ways here.

What "consequences" of Gosnell are present in legal abortion? A legal abortion might include aborting a fetus that might survive around or in the third trimester. These are tragic cases where women have testified at their anguish at it all. But, even there, LEGAL abortions do not involve what was done here. The clinics are not shoddy hellholes. The women patients are not mistreated. Any fetuses or born alive infants must be treated professionally.

Is it "horrible" to perform medically necessary abortions? Are even they now not to be allowed? Is the woman or girl required to sacrifice their life or health, often this still won't save the life of the fetus who is too immature to survive? Is this "dignity of life"?

How has "life" changed? I don't understand. Her remarks are not surprising. Mostly wrong, but the conservative stance on that, which is her bailiwick on that program, has been that for awhile now.

Posted by: Joe | May 7, 2013 7:49:25 PM

To address it separately, David says:

"I think given that, a great many who are pro-choice would agree that the only reason to allow legal abortion after viability is if the mother will suffer serious harm or death if an abortion is not performed."

Yes. There are some subset of cases here where the issue is some sort of severely deformed fetus. Virginia, Mississippi and Utah is listed as even covering such cases under Medicaid. This covers a range of cases. Least controversial might be brain dead fetuses.

But, there are other severely impaired fetuses that are closer cases, though in various cases the chance of survival is slim. There are a few cases, however, it is more of a quality of life issue. "Follow the Stars Home" is a film about a mother who doesn't have an abortion in this case. This type of abortion can be banned under Roe. Some late term testimonials, including from those who might very well otherwise be hesitant, reference these abortions.

As to having a late term abortion merely to have a "dead fetus," I guess these would be the cases. In general, D&X abortions are defended as a health measure, and medical testimony on that is available.

Posted by: Joe | May 7, 2013 8:18:19 PM