March 28, 2014

Good news in the fight against abortion

by Jesse Johnson

If Wendy Davis and Planned Parenthood are the face of the pro-abortion movement, then there may yet be hope that this is the last generation for legal abortion in the United States.


First some background: Yesterday the 5th-Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and allowed Texas’ new restrictions on abortions to remain in effect. This case will certainly be heard by the US Supreme Court, and is probably the most significant case in the struggle to end legal abortion.  

The case started last year when abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of eight counts of murder for botched abortions. Essentially, Gosnell ran what was described by a grand jury as a “house of horrors” where young women were drugged, labor was induced, and if any babies were old enough to survive delivery, they had their spines cut with scissors. He continuously infected patients with STD’s, reused dirty instruments, and misused drugs. Cats roamed the halls, and the place was a urine and blood-soaked mess.

It was also completely legal from the state’s perspective. In hindsight, the state of Pennsylvania has said, had there been laws that mandated that abortions be done in a surgical center as opposed to a doctor’s office then this whole thing could have been avoided. One of Gosnell’s patients died because Gosnell had an unqualified anesthesiologist—a high school intern—who overdosed a patient causing cardiac arrest, and there was no working oxygen tank or shock paddles in the entire office. When an ambulance did arrive, there was no mechanism for delivering her medical files to the hospital, and Gosnell refused to cooperate.

So essentially there were two legal loopholes that allowed for these deaths. Abortions were not regulated as surgeries (meaning they didn’t have to be done in clinic where there were niceties like oxygen and actual nurses), and abortionists didn’t have to have a connection to a hospital.

In the fall out of the Gosnell convictions other doctors were found operating clinics similar to the “house of horrors.” One of those was in Texas, provoking the Texas legislature to pass a series of laws designed to close those sub-standard clinics.  The two most basic parts of the law mandate that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital, and that abortions be done in a surgical center.

If you imagined that people on both sides of the abortion debate would be opposed to allowing places like the Gosnell clinic to continue to operate…well, you’d be wrong. Wendy Davis, a then State Senator and now candidate for governor, led a 12-hour filibuster against the laws. When the regulations did pass, Planned Parenthood declared that this marked the newest war on women, and sued to block them. Planned Parenthood and Davis pointed out that if the laws were upheld, they would have the effect of closing down many of the abortion clinics in Texas, and that some women would have to travel up to 150 miles for an abortion.

They won at trial, where a federal judge ruled that not only do women have a constitutional right to abortion, but that they have a right to have an abortion within a 2-hour drive from their homes. Texas appealed, and yesterday the appellate court reversed the judge’s decision.

The good news is that in the time since the law has gone into effect, 19 abortion clinics in Texas have closed because they were not able to upgrade to a surgical facility, or because their doctors could not get admitting privileges at a hospital. The bad news is that during the legal proceedings, Justice Breyer of the US Supreme Court issued a note saying that at least four of the Supreme Court justices want to take up this case, and are interested in overturning the Texas law.

This case is the most significant current legal challenge to the pro-life movement. The Texas regulations are brilliantly crafted because they actually do promote the safety of women—even women who are getting an abortion. They guarantee that abortions will be done in a safer environment (for the mother—obviously not for the child) than allowing them to continue in the run-down clinics that dot the US. People were literally dying from the lack of oversight governments gave abortion clinics, and these regulations aim to fix that.

But Planned Parenthood and Davis have continued to oppose the new laws. In so doing they have made their case clear: they would rather women have unsafe abortions than have any limit on abortion whatsoever. Beyond that, they have convinced at least one judge (and apparently four Supreme Court Justices) that any limit on abortion is inherently unconstitutional.

The contradictory nature of their argument should be obvious. The pro-abortion movement used to argue that back-alley clinics were a danger to women. Now they argue to keep them open.

Planned Parenthood says that the new laws  will harm women by “forcing women to have abortions later in pregnancy.” Just pause and notice their presupposition—they are willing to grant that abortions later in pregnancy have the potential to harm women. That in and of itself is a huge concession from them.

Meanwhile Davis has likewise exposed that she doesn’t really understand the basics of the laws she is now the chief opponent of.  In an interview in Washington DC she recently said:

 “I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case. But I do know that it happened in an ambulatory surgical center. And…changing our clinics to that standard obviously isn’t going to make a difference. The state of the law obviously has to assure that doctors are providing safe procedures for women and that proper oversight by the health and human services department is being given.”

In other words, she doesn’t know about the cause behind the very laws she’s suing to block… and the one thing she does “know” is wrong. In fact, it actually is an argument in favor of the laws. If anyone takes her at her word, her statement is a confession that government should regulate abortions by having them done in surgical centers.

Wendy Gosnell

Those who are committed to ending legal abortion in the US should take courage that the fight is slowly drifting our way. As science and technology advance, there remain really no plausible defenses of the legality of abortion. As laws continue to pass that regulate abortion, it becomes more and more difficult to pretend it is just like any other medical procedure. And as Wendy Davis and Planned Parenthood continue to explain why they oppose abortion regulation, the shallowness of their argument is laid bare.

The more they defend their position, the more they expose that abortion is indeed harmful, and must be stopped. As they explain why they oppose these laws, they are simultaneously ending the myth that they care more about women’s health than they do about promoting a pro-abortion culture, no matter the cost.

Jesse Johnson

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Jesse is the Teaching Pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He also leads The Master's Seminary Washington DC location.
  • All true, but all irrelevant as most people, like Wendy, will happily exist in full flight from reality and logic if it allows them to continue in their sin.

    Any inconvenient truth will be suppressed for the sake of their unrighteousness.

    Am I hopeless? No. But I believe I am realistic that lawlessness is the only viable solution for the unregenerate. In a democracy…all you need is 51% who love their sin.

    “As science and technology advance, there remain really no plausible defenses of the legality of abortion.” — True, but irrelevant to people who want to kill babies. This statement was true in 1973 as well.

    Our hope is in the gospel’s power to regenerate hearts and change people’s minds about abortion, not in their ability to reason logically from a biblical worldview!

  • kevin2184

    Well crafted as usual, Jesse. Thanks for writing it.

  • Linda Velazquez

    I think the only way to win the outlaw of abortion is to remove your arguments from the Christian agenda. Suppose you came at it from a secular point of view. First, any qualified doctor will tell you that an abortion is a surgical procedure, somewhat similar to a DNC. This requires a surgical center, a board certified OBGYN, an anesthesiologist, and a staff of nurses as well as prescription drugs being prescribed and usually a follow up visit. Also if a DNC were to be performed on a minor, parental approval would definitely be required. These things are actually no brainers. You can’t even pull a tooth from a minor without parental approval.

    Secondly an unborn child (fetus – which is a word I hate), is a living human being. The big question is – when does life begin. If it begins at conception then abortion would have been outlawed long ago. If it begins when the child becomes viable (at or about 20 weeks) then it can still be justified by the pro abortion crowd. Recently a friend of mine (a teenager) became pregnant and her parent took her for the abortion. For whatever reason the doctor performed a sonogram and when she got a look at the baby she changed her mind. Legally her mother could not compel her to have the abortion. She is still pregnant today and will carry to term.

    If a 3D color sonogram could be performed when the mother goes in for the abortion, I believe many would change their mind. People today won’t even kill a dog or cat, let alone an unborn child if they can think of it as a cute little baby.

    So if we can take the words sin, God, Christianity, murder, etc out of the argument we may actually win it. That is what upsets them the most.

    • Dan Heizinger

      Sorry to break it to you, but there is no secular argument against abortion in a moral context (its a life), because secularism can pass no moral judgement. One secular argument that could be used is population growth (Russia is using this argument to curtail its own abortion industry), but moral judgement is always required when talking about murder.

      • Linda Velazquezz

        Murder is illegal. This is a secular law. Most atheists agree that murder should be illegal.

        • Jon Loewen

          But what is murder? Killing an unborn child is legal, thus not murder in the eyes of the state. Secular law will simply define murder to suit their selfish desires because without God there is no moral compass.

  • Of course, the media will continue to paint this as a “reproductive rights” issue, and disassociate as far as possible with the grizzly Gosnell case. It’s sick and sad how far this nation has fallen. One nation under Molech it seems…

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  • tovlogos

    Every bit of good news helps in this grizzly saga. This respite, of course, will not usurp the devil’s authority as prince of this world; but our Lord takes these opportunities to read the hearts of those who stand for His biblical values; not to endorse any political values whatsoever. Why? Because although some of God’s values may intersect some political interests — our Lord’s values are not attached to a surplus of unbiblical issues piggy-backing on God’s core values. Thanks Jesse.


  • Doug

    Has the Cripplegate ever interacted with the Mohler’s Theological Triage? I’d be interested to see how this fleshes out with membership.

    • What do you mean by that? I’m familiar w/ Mohler’s concept, and find it very useful. Help me make the connection here…Thanks Doug.

  • Jesse:
    Thanks for your blog. It is well-written, well-informed and insightful.

    In noting your comments and those of the respondents to your blog, I would like to make some additional points.

    As a practicing OB/GYN and a defender of life, I have witnessed the impact of ultrasounds on the choices women make regarding abortion. Deep in our souls we naturally connect with dynamic, video images of a human heart. Undeniably, that heartbeat represents life and emotionally bonds the observer to the reality that her choice will no longer be made with her own needs in mind, but now becomes a question of extinguishing life of that unborn human being.

    Currently, the Commonwealth of Virginia (2012) requires pre-abortion ultrasounds to be performed. This law has come under attack by the Virginia Senate (2/2014), but died in the Republican dominated Virginia House. In 2013, the Virginia Board of Health, required abortion clinics to adhere to hospital-like building codes which were signed by the Governor and effectively closed existing abortion clinics not meeting those codes. As satisfying as these modifications of our state laws have made many pro-life advocates feel, in reality, as you mentioned, these are laws protecting women from abortions being performed on advanced pregnancies when gestational dating calculations are inaccurate leading to greater morbidity for those women. The law was not intended to shame abortion-minded women, but rather to safeguard those women from potential surgical morbidity which can include hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy or death. The Gosnell case should make it painfully obvious why hospital-like building codes are necessary and why stricter codes should include access to emergency medical care and provide that only licensed physicians should be performing such operations and administering anesthetics.

    The issue of abortion is a polarizing issue which continues to illustrate the sinfulness of our society and any society that condones the practice. It leaves scars on womens’ hearts years after the procedure. I continue to see on a regular basis in my practice the shame, the depression, and ultimately a woman’s sense of unworthiness to feel the love of Christ. We need to continue to love the sinner even while we despise the sin.

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Abortion, I fear will continue to be practiced in our society for years to come. With medical termination being performed in ever-greater numbers (Morning After Pill: Plan B; Methotrexate/Cytotec induction) the government-generated statistics showing decreasing numbers of abortions have little validity.

    We as a Christian community need to continue to support the legislation I mentioned above on humanistic grounds. Failure to do so will not only extinguish the life of the unborn, but potentially the life of the parturient as well. We can’t let that happen.

    Years of activism have not changed the law of the land. Only with Christian love and compassion can we hope to change one heart at a time so ultimately God’s ultrasound will detect a mother’s life saved and a heart changed in the knowledge of Christ.

    • Linda Velazquez

      You are absolutely right about the ultrasound. I have known women that could not kill the child after they saw it. I was in the room with one woman who saw the child and started crying. This s a VERY important step in helping a woman to decide in favor of her child. It is VERY powerful.

    • Linda Velazquez

      And Dr. Rothschild, thank you for what you are doing.

  • Dan Heizinger

    We can only hope and pray. Did you hear the story of British ‘hospitals’ being heated by burning babies’ corpses?

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