Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Partial Birth Abortion And Catholic Judges

As was well noted, it was the five Catholic Supreme Court justices (Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy) banding together that upheld the ban on partial birth abortions last week. We should all remember what this practice entails: pulling the baby out apart from the head, sticking a pair of scissors into the baby's skull to kill him/her, then using a suction to suck out the brains. As barbaric a procedure as one can possibly imagine. A procedure that the weight of public opinion is against, and that figures like Daniel Patrick Moynihan deemed to close to infanticide for comfort. And yet... the leading Democratic nominees have all criticized this decision. Are they so in the thrall of the abortion lobby that they cannot stand up for what is right, even in this most extreme of cases? Don't they realize that this is why the Catholic vote keeps slipping away?

And please, spare me the specious arguments based on the mother's health. To those making this argument, I would propose the following: how about banning all abortions except when the life of the mother is endangered? We all know how the pro-abortion lobby would react to this proposal. No, it's not about the health of the mother. Shed the pretence.

But this is also no time to pat the Bush administration on the back. True, Roberts and Alito made the right call in this case, but they have not stood up for the dignity of life in other cases (remember Hamden and the Geneva Conventions?). And, as most experts point out, the impact of this decision on the actual incidence of abortions will be negligible, while the carnage in Iraq continues to mount. Thank you indeed, George W. Bush.

But the most appalling reaction of all is the one that pins the blame on the Catholic faith of the aforementioned five justices for this decision. Cartoons are circulating of five Supreme Court justices wearing miters. As this link shows, the ugly anti-Catholic prejudice being generated by some on the left matches the old bigotry on the right portraying Catholics as agents on an insidious papacy. As reported by Mirror of Justice, one of the milder commentators, Geoffrey Stone from the Chicago law school put it as follows:
"What, then, explains this decision? Here is a painfully awkward observation: All five justices in the majority in Gonzales are Catholic. The four justices who are either Protestant or Jewish all voted in accord with settled precedent. It is mortifying to have to point this out. But it is too obvious, and too telling, to ignore."
Incredible. Since when did respect for human life become a value specific to the Catholic faith? Could one not argue that the since the two Jewish justices dissented, there is something inherent in Judaism that supports infanticide? Of course, this would be a despicable and outrageous argument. And yet, when you replace "Judaism" with "Catholicism", common standards of decency simply fall down...


Anonymous said...

The beginning and close of your comment on public reaction to the PBA decision were admirable. Your arguments and comments might carry more weight if the comments remained on topic rather than constant referral to torture and anti-partisan perspectives. Torture is evil as is abortion. As I read your discourse, the off subject referrals sound as you want to make sure you don't sound as if you support the 'other' party rather than strongly defending a truth in the light of evil.

Encourage the small but meaningful movements towards respect for life rather than drag the discussion into partisan discussions. It was not a party victory - it was a small step towards the Word.

Antonio Manetti said...

And please, spare me the specious arguments based on the mother's health.

OK -- but here's what the American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologist's had to say in their amicus brief:

"ACOG objects to the 2003 federal ban because it exposes women to serious, unnecessary health risks and does not include any exception to protect women's health. In addition, ACOG objects to the Act's vague and overly broad terms because doctors will be unable to determine whether their actions are prohibited by the Act. As a result, the Act will deter doctors from providing a wide range of procedures used to safely perform induced abortions."

The complete statement can be found at http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr09-22-06.cfm

The problem is the action of the court effectively says that the a-priori judgement of legislatures and judges trumps the assessment of the attending physician.

The truth of the matter is that the procedure is used when the woman's condition is in-extremis.

Although the law provides an exception when the life of the mother is at risk, that protection will be illusory if the doctor believes that an I D & E will be subject to second guessing by prosecutors and judges.

When the welfare of the woman is at issue, the views of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the weight of public opinion are irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Is partial birth abortion "an extreme case" because we can actually see a person being killed? I wonder if it is not so extreme if they would just kill the child in utero making it much cleaner, more sanitary, and not so graphic?

Antonio Manetti said...

No doubt about it. The procedure is horrible and tragic. No one is claiming otherwise. Sitting here at my keyboard, I envision it with revulsion. Nonetheless, what the woman and doctor may have to deal with is an actuality where there are no better choices.

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. I don't buy it Antonio. When we can save children born at 20 weeks gestation, you CANNOT tell me that the "best" method is to kill a tiny child. The best method is to do a C-section or induce labor and give the child to parents who won't kill her.

Anonymous said...

The best method is to do a C-section or induce labor and give the child to parents who won't kill her.


Antonio Manetti said...

The notion that we are dealing with an otherwise healthy child that can be safely delivered by c-section is wishful thinking.

The following article gives an actual case in which the foetus was anacephalic (ie, without a functioning brain):


Another unsparing account is at:

Such cases are why late term abortions are performed.

To me, what's truly barbaric is to jeopardize the woman's life and health in the service of political expediency.

Franklin Jennings said...

Remember Antonio, it is always safer to deliver a baby head first rather than breech.

Of course, then very few people will let you stab it in the head once you've done that. And a dead baby is the goal, anything less is failure.

That's your fellow partisan up there spouting off about Moynihan, Minion. I hope it warms the cockles of your heart.

Anonymous said...

Who mentioned anything about "political expediency?" I am not sure what you are talking about.

What I AM talking about is that it is truly barbaric to be FOR the death penalty for a sick child. If you believe a tiny child deserves the death penalty for her illness, than your position is immoral.

As for the health and life of the mother, I don't buy it. I had a very tough time during my first pregnancy with details I will not get into to. With 21st Century medicine there is almost nothing they cannot do to protect both mom and baby. And if the child is to die, the moral thing to do is give emotional and physical support to her and and her family and give them hospice support.

Antonio Manetti said...

When we can save children born at 20 weeks gestation, you CANNOT tell me that the "best" method is to kill a tiny child.

The 'sick children' you refer to are cases like the following:

...fetuses with missing skulls or spinal cords, and in one case twins fused into a single body

(see http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/positionpapers/22-Late-term-Abortions.PDF).

To debate this issue we need to face all aspects of the issue -- the revulsion we feel about the procedure and the kinds of catastrophic pregnancies that may be faced by the woman and doctor.

As to political expediency, the following judicial opinion from judge Posner of the federal appeaals court expresses what I mean.

The wave of 'partial birth' abortion statutes that broke over the nation after a description of the D & X procedure was publicized ... does not exhibit the legislative process at its best, whatever one thinks of abortion rights. Whipped up by activists who wanted to dramatize the ugliness of abortions and deter physicians from performing them, the public support for the laws was also based ... on sheer ignorance of the medical realities of late-term abortion.

Franklin Jennings said...

Surely, if anyone deserves to die, it is ...fetuses with missing skulls or spinal cords, and in one case twins fused into a single body...