The Right to a Dead Baby


For those deeply invested in protecting and widening the abortion license, the Kermit Gosnell case has thrown light in all the wrong places. Today, the Washington Post has another disturbing story about Live Action’s latest undercover investigation of abortion clinics. It’s not Gosnell Gruesome, but the insouciance of one of the abortionists involved is sickening just the same.

The Post reports:

One video features a D.C. doctor, Cesare Santangelo, who said that in the unlikely event that an abortion resulted in a live birth, “we would not help it.” Santangelo was answering repeated questions from an undercover operative about what would happen, hypothetically, if she gave birth after an unsuccessful abortion.

“I mean, technically, you know, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive, but .?.?. it probably wouldn’t,” Santangelo is shown telling the woman, who was 24 weeks pregnant. “It’s all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point.”

Santangelo stands by his position.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Santangelo said he was trying to reassure the woman, who turned out to be an undercover operative of the group, Live Action. In reality, he said, he would call 9-1-1. But he said he stands by what he said on tape.

“What I said is, basically I wouldn’t do anything extraordinary,” he said Saturday. “We would call EMS. We would call 9-1-1. But I wouldn’t do intubation or anything. .?.?. You let nature take its course.”

Let nature take its course? What is abortion if not a lethal intervention precisely intended to prevent nature from “taking its course,” the natural course being the sustaining of life?

Still, when it comes to the rights of a newborn, Santangelo is more sanguine than our President.

“Once the baby is born, it’s out of everybody’s hands, and the baby has rights, too,” [Santangelo] said. “I understand that and I support that.”

Unborn childHaving to save the life of a baby who has just survived an abortion doesn’t just reveal the profound moral contradiction of our abortion regime in the starkest possible terms. On a more immediate level, such life-saving treatment defeats the entire purpose of abortion. Abortion advocates talk of “terminating a pregnancy,” yet even Santangelo would never confuse an abortion and, say, a caesarean section—both of which are medical interventions meant to bring pregnancy to a conclusion. The essential difference, then, is that an abortion “procedure” is only deemed “successful” if it ends a life. Under the current abortion regime, the “right to choose” entails not only the right to choose whether or not to be pregnant; it entails the right to a dead baby. Being left with a living baby is an affront to “human rights” enshrined in the abortion license.

As for Live Action, their non-violent efforts to defend the least among us by shining a light on the abortion industry’s moral obtuseness have earned Santangelo’s special contempt:

He said he has not watched the video because “I don’t like to feed into these people. I really consider them terrorists.”


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About Author

Stephen P. White is a fellow in the Catholic Studies program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. His work focuses on the application of Catholic social teaching to a broad spectrum of contemporary political and cultural issues. Since 2005, Mr. White has been coordinator of the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society: a three week seminar on Catholic social teaching, with an emphasis on the thought of Blessed John Paul II, which takes place every summer in Kraków, Poland. He studied politics at the University of Dallas and philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He is a graduate of the St. Patrick's Evangelisation School in London, England.

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