But where are pro-life lawmakers on this case? Why have they not acted? Several aspects might be addressed.
First, all Medicaid and other federal support for abortion services should come with caveats — health standards (of the type Pennsylvania refused to issue and enforce) and appropriate training for all personnel. Second, federal taxpayer dollars should not go for late-term abortions. The Supreme Court has already held that there is no obligation to fund abortions at all, so there is no legal prohibition. Do pro-choice advocates really want to plant their flag on the ground of taxpayer-funded late-term abortions ?
That gets us to the broader issue of late-term abortions. Every state should have an infant-born-alive statute, and those states that do not should have to justify why medical personnel should not have an affirmative duty to provide medical care to an infant who survives abortion. Do we really want any state to endorse by silence Gosnell’s practices?
Finally, shouldn’t pro-life groups advocate a ban at the state level on late-term abortions? This, we will be told, is unconstitutional. Perhaps. About a dozen states already ban third-trimester abortions. The Supreme Court is considering a case involving Nebraska’s ban on abortions past the 20-week mark. Maybe in light of extraordinary advances in science and prenatal medicine, the court would recognize that there is little difference between some of Gosnell’s victims allegedly killed in utero and those allegedly killed after birth.
And for those who claim these items are “divisive,” I would suggest that there is probably more consensus than critics would claim. The president, although he snuggles up to abortion-on-demand Planned Parenthood, parrots Bill Clinton in saying abortion should be legal, safe and rare. Shouldn’t it also be early?
In any event, it is surprising that pro-life activists on the federal and state level have not put forth their own Gosnell amendments. There is nothing wrong, as the president showed us, in using a tragedy to raise awareness and pass relevant legislation. In fact, some might say there is an imperative to do so.