Monday, April 28, 2014

The Gosnell movie

[Some of the links may contain graphic and disturbing images and descriptions.]

Someone wants to make a movie about Kermit Gosnell and has turned to crowd-funding to finance the film. You can read the fund-raising pitch here; the campaign closes on May 12, 2014. You can read some of the backstory on the movie and see a couple of PSAs supporting it at HotAir.

I don’t know anything about the people making the movie; I don’t know anything about the movie itself; I know it will be very easy to make a very bad movie about Gosnell and his crimes. Nonetheless I have contributed to the fund-raising campaign for this movie at Indiegogo. I would like to see the Gosnell story told to a wider audience and perhaps this movie will accomplish that.

However, the aspects that will apparently be the focus of the movie - Gosnell as serial killer, the "media cover-up" - are the least interesting parts of the story. Serial killers are a dime a dozen and concerns about the media coverage are inside baseball. What I would like to understand are the other characters in this story: the women who came for abortions so late in their pregnancies and to such a horrible place; Gosnell's employees who killed alongside him; the colleagues who turned a blind eye to Gosnell's murders; the regulators who failed so miserably. I believe that telling these stories as they should be told will require a book. And, to me, the template for a book about the Gosnell story is The Perfect Storm.

The Perfect Storm is dispassionate but not cold; the facts are carefully researched; the characters are revealed through their own words and actions and by the descriptions of people around them; the communities - beliefs, norms, possibilities, limitations, culture - that shaped the characters’ decisions and actions are shown straightforwardly, without romanticizing or condescending; the technical information necessary to understand what happened is presented clearly and in sufficient detail; when the author must speculate on actions and outcomes, he makes it clear he is doing so; the author does not have a discernible ax to grind; and the book is a can’t-put-it-down read. I hope that somewhere out there is an author or journalist, perhaps one whose interest will be caught by the Gosnell movie, who can do for the rest of the Gosnell story what Sebastian Junger did for the Andrea Gail, the men who died on her, and the others whose lives were battered by the 1991 storm.



A Really Long Post About Abortion and Reasoning By Historical Analogy That is Going to Make Virtually All of My Readers Very Angry At Me - Megan McArdle on, largely, the personhood argument.

Protect and Defend by Richard North Patterson - A novel about a late-term abortion.

Abortion refusal death - This gives a brief description of the death of Savita Halappanavar, a pregnant Indian woman who died in Ireland from an infection due to an incomplete miscarriage that should have resulted in an abortion to save her life. Just as I believe legalized abortion supporters must confront Gosnell, I also believe those who would legally restrict abortion must confront Mrs. Halappanavar. (There is an interesting discussion about Mrs. Halappanavar’s death in the comments to a post at Grim’s Hall.)

Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story and 14 Theories for Why Kermit Gosnell’s Case Didn’t Get More Media Attention - Both by Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic. I was unaware of either of these until I did some poking around to write this blog post. The first is a good summary of the case; the second is an interesting survey of possible explanations for the media’s disinterest. I did a Bing search for:

friedersdorf gosnell site:

and he seems to have written a great deal on the topic. I have not read everything the search returned but what I have read is well worth the time and effort.


DL Sly said...

I followed the Gosnell story until he was sentenced mainly through Michelle Malkin's site.
Not sure if you read her, since I don't see her site in your sidebar, but I've found her's to be a consistent conservative voice - no matter the subject she's talking about. She also doesn't care about the D or R behind the names of those she is taking to task when she sees something out of line.

What I would like to see, although it'll never happen, is an old-fashioned rundown at the end of the movie - because quite frankly no matter what angle they want to try and spin this on, the horror of his office and private *collections* alone cannot be disputed - of other places like Gosnell's that have since been taken down due to the "shock and awe" of the original case creating a wave of CYA assessments throughout the country. That would really open eyes as to where the industry - and yes, when 3,000 such *services* are performed daily in our country alone, it is an industry - has longer on the slippery slope, but having landed with a very wet, nauseating splat at the bottom.

Elise said...

DL - I read Malkin when someone links to her, otherwise not. No problem with her just only so much time in a day.

It would be interesting to know if other abortion providers have been shut down by regulators.

I hadn't really thought about the "industry" aspect but some quick calculations were eye-opening. If we figure there are 3,000 abortions a day at (conservatively) $300 each, that's $900,000 per day. Five days a week = $4,500,000 per week. Fifty weeks a year (assume it slows down over the Christmas holidays) = $225,000,000. That is, 225 million dollars a year. That's an awful lot of money.

DL Sly said...

Elise, that I know of, there have been at least five other abortion mills that have been shut down in the aftermath of the Gosnell *enlightenment*. One of the most egregious was in Houston(?), Texas in what looked like a Gosnell imitation at first glance - if it weren't for the fact that he'd been accumulating his *collection* for years as well.
Scary when you start to add up those numbers, isn't it?
And you just figured for a year. Abortion has been in full swing for over forty years now. How many scientists, doctors, taxpayers have been denied the opportunity at life, much less the productive citizens they could have become.
Take away question: What discoveries, feats of greatness, acts of kindness have we denied ourselves by denying them their - and by virtue of that decision any chance at their procreation - God-given right to live?

Grim said...

A minor point, but I'm glad that you feel we treated Ms. Halappanavar's case with the seriousness it merited.

Elise said...

I don't think that's a minor point, Grim. Too often political disputes end up forgetting there are real people with real lives (and deaths) involved. In Friedersdorf's "14 Theories" he talks about conservatives focusing more on the media reaction to Gosnell than on the Gosnell case itself. Obviously, this isn't unique to conservatives but it was a good reminder to me that winning the politics of a situation is not the same as being human and humane about the substance of the situation.

Elise said...

DL - I've had a problem with the opportunity cost argument against abortion since I was about 14 (although then it was the opportunity cost argument against contraception). Partly it arises from what seems to me a logical extension of the idea: every time a woman ovulates and her egg is not fertilized we've lost a potential human being.

Partly it arises from being uncomfortable with the idea that a right to life arises from the contribution that life will make to society. I know (or at least believe) that's not how you think but it seems to me a slippery slope to frame the discussion that way. In fact, it's the basis of the Patterson novel I cited in the reading: aborting one useless life for the potential of other "better" lives.

And just for the record, my position on abortion is:

On-demand during the first trimester.
To save the live and general (not merely reproductive) health of the mother during the second trimester.
Not at all during the third trimester.

I can't justify that position morally or logically and I would support whole-heartedly an aggressive campaign to encourage women in the first trimester to never, ever choose abortion. I guess I hold the old Clinton position: legal, safe, and rare.

DL Sly said...

"every time a woman ovulates and her egg is not fertilized we've lost a potential human being."

Actually, the fallacy of this thought lies in the fact that an unfertilized egg is not a human being. It's an egg. Just as a single sperm cell is not a human...yet. It must incorporate with the egg and start the spark of life that starts the cell divisions. That is when the human being comes into existence. Until then, they are just two seperate parts of a potential whole. Just as a nut serves no purpose with the bolt threaded through it, and the bolt cannot hold without the nut to secure the other end.

Elise said...

I've no argument with that, DL, but it seems to me to be a different point than the opportunity cost argument. If a human being becomes as soon as the egg is fertilized then that human being has the right to exist from that moment on, regardless of whether that human being becomes another Marie Curie or an ax murderer.

Elise said...

I have a feeling I'm not expressing myself very clearly. If that's the case, I apologize.

douglas said...

The people making the movie are wonderful people, and have made documentaries like "Frack Nation" to expose the anti-fracking fraud (If you haven't seen it you should), and wanted this movie to be a dramatization as they thought it would be more effective, and perhaps be less off-putting than a documentary about this. They have been on Hugh Hewitt's show a couple times, and they sound like wonderful people who want to make a difference. I urge anyone reading this to donate even a dollar if that's all you can do. This story can change minds if it's told well, and made accessible, and these are just the people to do it.

If I may suggest a book:
"Ten Universal Principles- A Brief Philosophy of the Life Issues". It's not long, and for a philosophy text, not overly dense. I think it does a nice job of demolishing everything the pro-'choice' argument rests on. It was also enlightening to me on just how flawed the Roe V. Wade decision was as a rational argument.

As for your critique of the opportunity cost issue, the unfertilized egg is an opportunity, but only partially, and is in fact a piece of tissue directly traceable to the woman at the genetic level. The fertilized egg is different- it has it's own unique dna, yes, traceable in part to the mother, but clearly distinct. It is 'other', and if it not human, what then? If it is human tissue, and it has unique dna, then how is it not a person? We use DNA in courts to execute people, shouldn't we also use it to exonerate the innocent?

Elise said...

Douglas, thanks for the info on the filmmakers and I second your request that people donate - the end date is 7 days away and they still need to raise a little over $200,000.

Thanks for the book recommendation. My library doesn't have it but at least one Catholic university is in my inter-library loan program and I bet they do.

I don't think I have any dispute with your third paragraph. My dispute is with thinking about a right to life in terms of what someone can become/contribute to society. And the more I read what you and DL write, the more I realize my thoughts are not clear on this.

DL Sly said...

Yes, I freely admit that the result of what that human being chooses to become is unpredictable. Life, in and of itself, is unpredictable. However, abortion, with statistically few exceptions, always ends in a human being never getting the chance to choose.