The March For Life anti-abortion protest held in January (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post) The March For Life anti-abortion protest held in January (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Late-term abortion, a highly emotional and polarizing subject, nevertheless begat a calm and rational discussion in the comments to Marc Thiessen’s column. Thiessen tied a comment made by a Planned Parenthood lobbyist testifying in Florida to the notorious case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, on trial for murder in Philadelphia.

The lobbyist, Alisa Snow, was testifying in opposition to a proposed Florida law that would require doctors to provide emergency medical care to an infant who survives an abortion attempt; she said that, hypothetically, in such a case Planned Parenthood believes the actions taken should be dictated not by a law, but by the wishes of mother and her doctor, together.

According to prosecutors, Gosnell routinely used scissors to kill newborns who survived an attempted abortion. (It should be noted that what Gosnell is accused of is illegal under existing law, and that he has no connection to Planned Parenthood, except the philosophical line Thiessen used to connect him to Snow’s testimony.)

Nobody likes talking about this subject. But it got 2,000 comments. Impassioned as the rhetoric gets, Thiessen’s final question seems to get near-total agreement:

“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’?”

Where we start disagreeing is on the question of what “killing” and “child” mean in this formulation.


How late in the pregnancy is the mother getting an abortion? Are these healthy, viable babies? I know several women who late in their terms find out their babies aren’t viable. They won’t live and continuing the pregnancy could be dangerous for the mother, emotionally and/or physically. If these are totally healthy babies that can live independent of their mothers and are late term, who in their right mind could kill them?


Aside from the house-of-horrors in Philadelphia, you just don’t have cases of perfectly viable infants being born from ‘botched abortions’ and then being murdered by the doctor. If these measures were to go through, requiring …  medical care be provided to ‘infants’ born alive, you would have the spectacle staff trying to hook three-inch long fetuses to ventilators. Just keep the politicians out of medical clinics.


If it DIDN’T happen, why are we even talking about it? Because, it has. It does happen.


The choice is simple. If you can have a C-section and the baby lives or an abortion (vacuum) and the baby dies there should be no choice.


But what if it is going to die in horrible agony within minutes? There are just too many assumptions you guys are making. No one, I repeat, no one is arguing that a perfectly healthy baby that will survive can be “aborted.”


Ultra: how would you determine if a baby is viable if you don’t examine the child? Does your right to privacy, or abortion, extend to the point that you can deny another American citizen medical care and let it die? Can you just ask the doctor to throw the baby, the American citizen, in a basket. Because that’s what happens.



That’s right, there’s no right to kill an infant who is out of the womb and no longer a fetus; to the extent some extremist will claim there is, there’s no right to kill a fetus after viability. To the extent someone will argue the fetus is not viable, there’s then no reason to kill, just wait for it to die.

(But, PostScript interjects, we’re all using “viable” differently. The Florida law in question is about what sort of facilities abortion clinics need to have on hand in case a baby is born alive. Does “viable” mean “can survive in a neo-natal ICU?” Isn’t waiting for “it” to die, as jck747 suggests, potentially horrible as well?)

Gosnell was breaking current law; the lives of viable babies are already protected.
I am a Registered Nurse and a certified provider of neonatal resuscitation; there is NO point in attempting to resuscitate a pre-viable baby because such a baby cannot survive no matter what medical interventions are used, and resuscitation attempts may only cause pain and suffering to that baby. The hospital in which I work does not perform abortions, but I can assure you we do not attempt resuscitation on pre-viable or non-viable infants whose mothers miscarry, so why should anyone be required to attempt resuscitation on such infants who are aborted?
The sole purpose of the law in question is to prevent women from attaining their legal rights to abortion.

Okay. As reasonable as everyone is being, and as good-hearted as the commenters seem to be today, if it’s all right with everyone PostScript is going to crawl under her desk for the rest of the day and feel sad.