Abortion and infanticide: same thing really

Abortion and infanticide: same thing really

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels comments on the partial-birth abortion decision of the US Supreme Court and reveals the moment when she learned what it really was and how she reacted.

Lo, those many years ago when I was editor of Commonweal, I remember getting pr releases about partial-birth abortion. I didn’t even read the first ones, but finally I did read one and looked at the pictures, and read the description. My dismissive attitude was replaced by curiosity and then repugnance. I couldn’t see how pro-choice people could defend a procedure that delivered a live baby and then stuck a pair of scissors (or other medical tool) into its skull to kill it. Why isn’t this infanticide? And why shouldn’t it be prohibited?

Apart from the obvious text of her comment, I’m struck by the subtext. She was the editor of a major Catholic magazine, yet when she would receive press releases about pro-life efforts to ban abortion she didn’t even read them and had, by her own admission, a “dismissive attitude.” Why should she have a dismissive attitude? Didn’t all abortion, not just this particularly graphic form of infanticide, repulse her?

Maybe I should give her the benefit of doubt and assume that she’s making a contrast for rhetorical effect. But I can’t help but draw the conclusion that apart from the partial-birth procedure, she wasn’t much bothered by abortion. The headline of her post says: “Abortion or infanticide?” Really, should it matter? Both kill a child.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • In the early 1980s, when I was still a Leftist, I was working with a Catholic coalition of religious priests and nuns who were deeply involved into the most popular aspects of so-called peace and justice at the time.

    One of older member priests, who was also a history professor, spoke to our coalition and referred quite snottily about the anti-abortion group at the parish where he often celebrated mass.  The nuns and priests simply nodded knowingly about these pro-life fanatics.  I mean these pro-lifers were deemed deluded zealots, as they had no regard for the central issues of inclusive language and female ordination, and all the burning issues of this coalition—which by the way was, and is, a who’s who of major religious orders.

    So it comes as no surprise that Margaret O’Brien Steinfels, a liberal or “progressive” Catholic, would come late to realize the utter horrors of partial-birth abortion.  In certain Catholic circles, abortion has been relegated to being a side issue or even a hindrance to the real focus—which is ultimately Marxism-lite with a ritual touch.

    Yet, in a charitable defense of all of these people, I, too, came late to realize the horrors of abortion—and that was due to being a father of two children myself, but especially to finally accepting God’s grace and realizing that abortion really is murder—of the most horrendous kind.

  • I agree with your point, Dom, as far as it goes, and I’ll bet you’ll agree with mine: that it’s NEVER too late to wake up and get real. As S did.

  • Has anyone else read “Risking women’s health” by Kenneth C. Edelin in the Sunday Globe of Apr.22 in the Opinion section? In his objection to the recent Supreme Court decision against partial-birth abortions,Edelin refers to the court case that found him guilty.( 1975 Massachusetts v. Edelin-Manslaughter finding).  He maintains that the safest procedure would have been a D&E, which is what the partial-birth abortion is.He then bemoans any objections to partial-birth abortion. Then he goes on to point out that his appeal in 1976 to the 1975 finding of manslaughter led to it being overturned on the grounds that the previous finding of manslaughter was “trammeling on the judgments of the individual attending physician.”
    As I recall the 1975 court case, the nurses who were in the operating room with Dr. Edelin testified in Court that he put his hands on the baby’s neck and stopped the baby from breathing. I believe I recall that the nurses had even called in a pediatrician when they saw that the baby was alive.
    Does anyone else recollect what the reports were about Dr. Edelin’s actions when he caused the baby to die which was the basis for the manslaughter judgment?
    Dr. Kenneth Edelin is such a powerful professor of obstetrics and gynecology at B.U. and author of many books, esp. on bias against the black race, that no one in the media dares to say anything negative about him. So his very strong support for abortion, including partial-birth abortions, goes unchallenged.