POLITICS

The moral significance of the cervix: Gosnell vs. Carhart

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney,Abortion

“Every one of those babies died in utero.”

That was the closing argument of Kermit Gosnell’s defense attorney. Had the jury agreed with this question of fact, then the notorious late-term abortionist would have been let go.

Given the horror with which nearly everyone reacted to tales of Gosnell’s practice, it’s worth asking what the moral difference is between what Gosnell was convicted of doing — “bringing about fetal demise” after the babies  exited the birth canal — and legal late-term abortion, as practiced by the likes of LeRoy Carhart.

John McCormack of the Weekly Standard asked that question today to Nancy Pelosi. Before Pelosi got around to saying legal abortion is a “sacred” matter for her as a Catholic, she scolded McCormack for the question and continually refused to answer it.

When I asked a pro-choice expert a similar question on a conference call during Gosnell’s trial, I got a fairly clinical answer.

I asked “What is the distinction between what he did, and what a late-term abortionist like, say, LeRoy Carhart does?”

Dr. Tracy Weitz, associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, answered:

I think it’s important to recognize that this particular procedure is nowhere in the medical literature. When a procedure that usually involves the collapsing of the skull is done, it’s usually done when the fetus is still inthe uterus, not when the fetus has been delivered.

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