All Gosnell Everything

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 24 2013 3:43 PM

All Gosnell Everything

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WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 15: Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) listens during a news conference for the launch of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus on Capitol Hill on September 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. Franks is a co-chair of the caucus, along with Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). The bi-partisan caucus has attracted approximately 50 members. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

"Mr. Gosnell really is the face of abortion on demand in America," said Rep. Trent Franks.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

It was Wednesday, and Franks had called a press conference to discuss the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The new one. Franks regularly introduces a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act applicable to the District of Columbia, over which Congress maintains a great degree of control. But the trial of Kenneth Gosnell and the media attention that followed had convinced Franks that it was time to take this national.

The new bill looks like the old one. It prohibits abortions even when babies are born without the capability to sustain life. "The position, asserted by some medical experts, that the unborn child is incapable of experiencing pain until a point later in pregnancy than 20 weeks after fertilization predominately rests on the assumption that the ability to experience pain depends on the cerebral cortex and requires nerve connections between the thalamus and the cortex," write the authors of the bill. "Substantial evidence indicates that children born missing the bulk of the cerebral cortex, those with hydranencephaly, nevertheless experience pain."

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What does this have to do with Gosnell? I asked Franks why a new bill was necessary, when Gosnell's illegal late-term and partial birth abortions put him in jail under existing law.

"In that state, there was some restriction," he said. "In many states, there are not. That's not because of a federal law. That's because of a state law. In many states, had he done this five minutes earlier, it would have been legal."

Not in many places, really. According the grand jury report, Gosnell regularly committed fraud by adjusting ultrasounds to make babies look younger than the legal cutoff for abortions. I was missing the point, though. The point was Gosnell. As the media has moved on -- to Oklahoma, to Boston, to the Cincinatti IRS office -- the pro-life movement has tried to keep Gosnell as the face of the opposition.

"I remember when my baby was born" said Rep. Louie Gohmert. "I held her. I used two hands. She was small enough, I could have used one. I was worried she might roll out. To think of someone snipping her spinal cord!

"God cannot and will not continue to bless America while we're killing over 3000 babies every day," said Rep. Paul Broun. "He cannot, because he is a righteous God."

Rep. Randy Weber chimed in to agree. "It's a good thing that he's a holy, just non-vengeful God," he said.* "It's a good thing we're not vengueful, because he might ask him to bring an untimely demise to those in the abortion industry who are killing our babies. But we're not that way. He's a God of second chances."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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