Philadelphia Abortionist Charged for Killing 7 Babies After They Were Born
3:48 PM, Jan 19, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
A horrifying report from the Associated Press:
The AP adds: "Abortions are legal up to 24 weeks gestation in Pennsylvania, although most doctors won't perform them after 20 weeks, prosecutors said."
The AP's reporting misses the point that Gosnell would not have been charged with murder of these seven babies if he had dismembered them prior to birth and filed the right paperwork.
While Pennsylvania does indeed have a law on the books prohibiting abortions after 24 weeks of gestation, the 1973 Supreme Court decision Doe v. Bolton (Roe's sister case) held that a doctor could decide to perform an abortion based on "all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age-relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health."
So Gosnell's problem--aside from being a murderer and a ghoul--as far as the (judicially-imposed) national law is concerned isn't that he performed late-term abortions, but that he didn't kill those seven babies before they were born. The partial-birth abortion ban doesn't prevent abortions after the baby has developed a certain amount of time--it bans abortions when the baby's head or "any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother."
The notion that late-term abortions may be effectively outlawed by the states is a common misconception--it's even been advanced by Barack Obama. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama told a Christian magazine: "I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that 'mental distress' qualifies as the health of the mother."
But as legal correspondent Jan Crawford explained, Obama's statement was fundamentally at odds with the Court's rulings:
Crawford noted that Obama then backtracked and said he supported a "rigorously" limited mental health exception, but he further misstated the law:
Despite Crawford's reporting, the rest of the national press never held Obama's feet to the fire on this issue. The fact is, almost 38 years to the day after the Supreme Court handed down the Roe and Doe decisions, abortion is legal in all 50 states, through all 9 months of pregnancy, for effectively any reason, so long as you can find a doctor willing to do it. Simply put, the only way states will have the right to ban abortions--late-term or earlier--is if a fifth constitutionalist joins Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito on the Court.
(Hat tip: Steven Ertelt)