A pro-life activist group that uses hidden cameras to go undercover in abortion clinics called Wednesday for a government investigation into the practice of letting "born-alive" children die.
"We believe in human rights for everyone — human rights for the child in the womb, the child outside the womb, and true protection and medical care for women. Not the brutality that goes on during these procedures," Lila Rose, president of Live Action, said at a rally Wednesday in front of Washington Surgi-Clinic near George Washington University in Northwest Washington.
"When I hear things like, 'flush it down the toilet' or 'leave it to die,' it horrifies me," Melissa Ohden, who as a newborn survived a saline-infusion abortion 35 years ago, told the crowd of pro-life activists and onlookers.
Noting that she personally knows 130 survivors of abortion, Ms. Ohden said: "I very well could have been one of Dr. Gosnell's prize possessions in his house of horrors," but "the medical professionals who found me after my biological mother's failed abortion provided me with medical care that sustained my life."
Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, is on trial for the murder of four infants and a female patient as well as dozens of other charges related to his filthy clinic. The jury held its second day of deliberations Wednesday at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The D.C. rally followed the recent release of a Live Action video of a supposedly confidential conversation between a pregnant woman and abortion provider Dr. Cesare Santangelo, who works at the D.C. clinic.
Without knowing he was being taped by the pregnant woman, who was about 24 weeks along, Dr. Santangelo explained the late-term abortion process to her. When she asked what would happen if the fetus was born alive, the doctor assured that while he was legally required to assist a born-alive fetus, its survival would depend on medical care — and little, if any, care would be provided to it.
"Like 'do not resuscitate' orders. We would do the same things here," he said on the video.
Ms. Rose, whose group is releasing a third video this week, denounced Dr. Santangelo for saying he would allow a born-alive child to die in his clinic "and we are not going away until we put an end to this."
She asked for federal and city investigations of the clinic and Dr. Santangelo for violating the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, and for politicians to enact laws protecting such children and women.
Rep. Trent Franks, Arizona Republican, and nearly 100 other members of Congress, have reintroduced a bill that would block nearly all abortions in the District after 20 weeks' gestation.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's representative in Congress, has vowed to fight the bill again.
Alfred Belcuore, an attorney for Dr. Santangelo and the Washington Surgi-Clinic did not immediately return requests for comment Wednesday, but in an earlier statement, he said that Dr. Santangelo "is a private physician serving patients in need of his services in full conformity with the law."
Outside the clinic, pro-choice supporter Paul Valette said he thought the pro-life activists were "abusive" themselves.
The Live Action videos are like entrapment, said Mr. Valette, a volunteer with the Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force and clinic escort for more than 16 years.
"They're sending people in to draw the physicians and staff into making statements that make them look bad," he said. "Most Americans believe it's up to women to make those kinds of decisions" about abortion. "Their treatment of [clinic] patients is abusive. It's none of their business."
At the rally, which drew fewer than 100 people, nurse Jill Stanek recalled how 14 years ago, she told Illinois lawmakers — including then-state Sen. Barack Obama — about babies from botched abortions being left to die on trays and in utility rooms in a Chicago hospital. She cradled one post-abortion baby for 45 minutes before it died.
"Nothing is changed," Ms. Stanek said. "People are saying Kermit Gosnell — the heinous abortionist in Philadelphia — was an outlier. But I am here to tell you he was not an outlier."
"This is what they do every day for profit — this is not the exception, it's the rule," said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life in America.
She cited her own "undercover" experience in 2008, when she went to a New Jersey abortion clinic to ask what would happen to her 22-week unborn child in an abortion.
"The nurse just simply said, 'Well, he's too big for the normal procedure, so we're going to just birth him and then let him die. He won't survive,'" Ms. Hawkins said.
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