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Videos, court fight fuel surging debate on abortion

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2013

New undercover videos of abortion professionals explaining late-term abortions, coupled with states passing strict abortion laws and a horror-show abortion criminal case, are keeping abortion at the top of the news — an unexpected development after the nation re-elected its most vocal pro-choice president.

On Monday, the pro-life activist group Live Action released the second in a series of undercover videos about late-term abortions. In the videos, abortion professionals in New York and the District describe late-term abortions, including advice about what could happen in the rare event that a fetus survives the procedure.

In one video, an abortion counselor says that if the baby is breathing or twitching after the abortion, it would be put "in a container — like a jar" with a toxic solution.

"The solution will make it stop. It's not going to be moving around in the jar. ... That's the whole purpose of the solution," said the counselor, who works at Dr. Emily Women's Health Center in the Bronx.

In another video taken at Washington Surgi-Clinic on F Street Northwest, Dr. Cesare Santangelo was asked what would happen to a born-alive fetus. "Technically — you know, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive. But, you know, it probably wouldn't," he said, adding that "extra procedures" to help it survive would not be performed.

"Like 'do not resuscitate' orders. We would do the same things here," Dr. Santangelo said.

Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said her group's videos, the latest in a yearslong string of undercover tapings, "expose the truly gruesome, illegal, and inhuman practices going on inside many of America's abortion clinics."

"Dr. Kermit Gosnell is not alone," she said, referring to a Philadelphia abortionist accused of murder, whose trial on charges of killing born-alive babies outside the womb ended Monday with the attorneys' closing arguments.

Ms. Rose and other pro-life leaders are planning a rally Wednesday at the D.C. abortion clinic featured in one of the undercover videos, while in Congress, a bill has been introduced that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks in the District.

Forty-two states have enacted laws restricting abortion and regulating clinics. Those laws — plus the Gosnell trial and new Live Action videos — are showing that opposing abortion is "not just the rant of a tiny minority," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B Anthony List.

"The debate has changed. ... Now it has people's attention," she said.

The political and legal clashes over abortion emerged as President Obama last week became the first sitting president to address a Planned Parenthood national conference, underscoring his support for keeping abortion legal.

After thanking participants Friday for their help in passing his signature health care reform and for their services to women, Mr. Obama assured Planned Parenthood that as long as there are battles over women's reproductive and health care rights, "you've also got a president who's going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way."

During the conclusion of his address, he said, "Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you."

Many saw Mr. Obama's re-election victory in November as a decisive win for pro-choice groups, which have been moving forward to establish access to birth control as a human right and to ensure that all women in the U.S. will not have to pay for birth control products.

But pro-choice forces also have been forced to defend their cause again and again: They have gone to court in Arkansas to stop legislation that would block most abortions after the 12th week of gestation, and a lawsuit is imminent against a North Dakota law that would block most abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected — as early as six weeks.

In addition, testimony in the ongoing trial of Dr. Gosnell, an inner-city Philadelphia abortion doctor, has revealed grisly details about a filthy abortion shop. Dr. Gosnell is accused of four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four newborns, and one count of third-degree murder in the death of a pregnant woman.

The Live Action videos, released Sunday and Monday, can be seen on the Live Action's website at liveaction.org/inhuman.

The videos do not appear to capture wrongdoing by the abortion professionals — both the counselor at the Dr. Emily clinic and Dr. Santangelo in the District refer to legal limits on what they can do.

But when they answer hypothetical questions from the undercover patient, who is either 23 weeks pregnant or 24 weeks pregnant during the videos, they offer candid advice about how they will ensure that the fetus is killed, what to do if the baby is born at home or what will happen if it survives the abortion.

"If you want to know does this happen? Are these Live Action videos accurate? Absolutely," said Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, citing the many testimonies she has heard from women who have regretted their abortions and talked about them.

Alfred F. Belcuore, an attorney for Dr. Santangelo, could not be reached immediately Monday, but he told The Washington Post that the video recording and its public release amounted to an "outrageous intrusion" upon the doctor-patient relationship.

A spokeswoman for Dr. Emily Women's Health Clinic also could not be reached Monday; however, Marjana Banzil, director of the Bronx clinic, told The Post that any employee who would say such a thing was misinformed.

At least two federal laws, both signed by President George W. Bush, affect abortions, especially those performed late in pregnancy: The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002 says infants born alive, including those who survive an abortion, have full legal rights under federal law, and the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 criminalizes the killing of a living human fetus that has been partially birthed.

Mr. Obama voted against an Illinois version of the federal "born alive" law when he was a state senator.

In response to these laws, abortionists often inject a toxic solution into fetal hearts to kill them while inside the mother, ensuring that only dead fetuses will be delivered in the abortion clinic or hospital.

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