Government entitlements change minds and human behavior, it seems. Take one away and what happens?
November 8 will be the first time an abortion proposal of any kind has been on a Michigan statewide ballot since a half-century ago. What occurred in 1971-72 that can be compared with where we are today?
An abortion rights proposal that would have dramatically liberalized Michigan’s 1931 law (which prohibited abortion with rare exceptions) was resoundingly defeated in the 1972 general election by a better than 3-2 margin. As everyone knows, that result was abrogated by the famous Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court a few months later, in 1973. How did the 1972 proposal get on the ballot? By petition drive, just like the Proposal 3 that will be decided by the state’s voters beginning as early as when absentee ballots go out on Wednesday (Sept. 28).
What was the major difference between the two major political parties’ approach to trying to liberalize Michigan’s law in 1972 as opposed to today?
IT’S BEEN REVERSED — AN ALMOST TOTAL FLIP. In 1972, it was legislative REPUBLICANS who pushed abortion rights and legislative DEMOCRATS who by and large were in opposition.
Here’s what an aggressive pro-choice abortion rights group (FIFTH ESTATE/Radical Publishing Since 1965) was saying about what legislative Republicans were trying to accomplish in 1971:
“Michigan women will demonstrate in Lansing March 13 for one aspect of our liberation—the right to abortion. Our demands are: free and legal abortion on demand; no forced sterilization; repeal of all existing abortion laws.
“Abortion should be a human right. To a woman who has no choice but to bear children, liberation is no more than a bad joke. When we can control our own fertility, we can each work and plan our future. We will be better able to fight against the other forms of oppression that we encounter. We must be free to govern our own bodies and it is for this basic freedom that we will march in Lansing.
“The Bursley bill (SB 3) for abortion reform will be under consideration by the Michigan Senate when we move on the capitol. It is similar to the New York abortion reform.
“Two reform bills have been defeated in Michigan, but with the growing movement for abortion reform this bill (SB 3) has a slightly better chance of passing.”
Four days later, on March 15, the state House, controlled by Democrats, first took action on SB 3 by trying to refer the bill to the House Committee on Social Services & Corrections, on orders of House Speaker William Ryan, a staunch Roman Catholic Democrat who opposed abortion rights. There were two procedural votes on referring SB 3 to Ryan’s preferred committee. Despite strong opposition from a majority of the House Republican caucus, Ryan’s forces prevailed, 57-41 and 70-30. Democrats opposing abortion constituted heavy majorities on both roll calls. A later motion to discharge the Health & Social Services & Corrections Committee of the bill on March 16 failed. The committee did hold a public hearing on the measure on April 5 and additional hearings on April 7, 8, 12, 13, 14 (two of them), 23, 26, 27, 28 and 30. Still another motion to discharge on June 15 supported mostly by Republicans failed.
Ryan then allowed the bill to be reported out of committee on July 15 but without recommendation that it be passed by the full House, and the bill was immediately TABLED by majority Democrats. No further action on SB 3 occurred in the Legislature for the next 17 months until the end of session, although by that time a petition drive had been launched to put a more ‘extreme’ abortion rights measure on the statewide ballot in November, 1972. That was Proposal 2, an initiative petition to allow physicians to perform abortions upon demand if the period of gestation has not exceeded 20 weeks. It was hammered at the polls, 1,958,265 No votes to 1,270,416 Yes votes (a nearly 60.6%-39.4% defeat).
Today, the partisan configuration of support and opposition to abortion is almost completely reversed. Democrats at all levels, even Roman Catholic Democrats — think Teddy Kennedy and Joe Biden — are totally pro-choice abortion rights. Republicans are equally as unanimous in being pro-life; they never would have supported SB 3 back in 1971. Since then, legislative Democrats in Michigan, when they had majorities in the state House or Senate, never had any need to take any action on abortion in the past half-century because Roe v. Wade made the whole issue moot, and now they don’t control either chamber and couldn’t move any bill even if they wanted to.
One question the survey asked was this: “Michigan law now states that an abortion may be performed by a doctor when continuation of a pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. Should Michigan law be liberalized to permit an abortion in the case of rape or incest or where there is a clear danger to the mental health of the mother, or strong reason to believe the baby will be deformed?” Interestingly, results of this survey were as follows: 76,1% Yes; 15.0% No; and 8.9% Undecided.
But there was also a second question that was asked in the same survey: “Should Michigan’s abortion law be changed to allow a doctor to perform an abortion on any woman for any reason, at her request? ” Results? Only 33.6% Yes; 57.9% No; with 8.5% Undecided. Maybe that should have told the initiative petitioners that their proposal was unlikely to be approved by the state’s voters a year and a half later, because it roughly describes the language of what voters saw on the 1972 ballot. By contrast, the more moderate first question (see above) described language that voters in the 30th Senatorial District might have been approved. By the way, how did voters in the 30th District vote on the November, 1972, ballot proposal? They opposed it by an even heftier margin than it lost statewide.
Predictably, the pro-choice FIFTH ESTATE group mentioned above favored a version of the second question that was eventually what was on the 1972 ballot. Even SB 3, which it had supported when it was before the Legislature, wasn’t really satisfactory for these petitioners, and they said why:
“Let’s take a look at the shortcomings of SB 3. It makes abortion legal IF performed by a licensed physician in a licensed hospital or clinic; IF the woman has been a Michigan resident for 90 days before the abortion; IF the woman is over 18 years of age, unless she has the written consent of her parents.
“All of these restrictions serve to deprive some women of their right to abortion on demand, The licensed physician/hospital requirement insists that the job be done by doctors in hospitals, when it could be shifted to well-trained technicians in special abortion clinics. It overlooks the future development of pills and procedures that would make it possible for women themselves to bring on a safe abortion. (Such methods are now being developed in England.)
“The residency requirement effectively rules out the possibility of women coming from other states to obtain Michigan abortions. The age requirement leaves the choice of abortion up to a young woman’s parents. Legalization must make abortions easily available to all women. There must be no more restrictions on who may receive an abortion.
“It seems that we may get a legal abortion bill this year (EDITOR’S NOTE: they didn’t). But actually, what legislators are most concerned with when they consider a “liberalized” bill is whether it can be of advantage to their political careers. The abortion bill’s chance of passing (the Legislature) would drop sharply during an election year, when cautious senators would refuse to commit themselves on such a ‘hot’ issue.”
But FIFTH ESTATE should have realized that the response in the questionnaire to the first, more moderate version of a ‘liberalized’ law (referred to above) would have been a better path to success in its petition drive. Instead, they incorporated the description of the second question, which the questionnaire’s respondents rejected but which was presented to and rejected by 1972 voters.
So now, Michigan on abortion law is back where it was before the famous Roe v. Wade decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in early 1973. The statute currently in place is the same 1931 law prohibiting abortion except to save the life of the mother, even though that has been at least temporarily ruled unconstitutional by a state Court of Claims judge. However, nobody expects this ruling will be the final word.
Pending is a decision by the state Supreme Court on a request by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on whether the 1931 statute should be scuttled. More important, there’s a statewide vote scheduled on an abortion rights constitutional amendment on the Nov. 8 general election ballot (Proposal 3).
|“||This proposed constitutional amendment would:
Should this proposal be adopted? 
How did Proposal 3 get on the ballot?
For an initiated constitutional amendment to make it to the ballot in Michigan in 2022, a campaign now must collect 425,059 valid signatures from registered voters. This is equal to 10 percent of the total number of votes cast for the office of governor in the last gubernatorial election.
The “Reproductive Freedom for All” campaign filed a petition in January of this year to put Proposal 3 on the ballot. The campaign submitted 753,759 signatures on July 11 and, after a signature validation process, the state Bureau of Elections said that the Reproductive Freedom for All campaign submitted an estimate of 596,379 valid signatures. Proposal 3 then went to the Board of State Canvassers for consideration.
The campaign opposing the initiative, Citizens to Support MI Women and Children, filed a challenge against the petition, but the Michigan Supreme Court rejected the challenge to the initiative on September 8 and ordered that Proposal 3 would appear on the November 8 ballot.
Proposal 3 is even more strongly pro-abortion rights than the 1972 proposal. Most polls show the state’s voters supporting Proposal 3 by as much as a 70% majority.
But remember what happened in 1972. Stay tuned …
Bill Gelineau - 2018 Libertarian Nominee for Governor says
Bill. Thank you for this detailed historical summary. It speaks volumes how public policy has continued to be shaped by a religion. The ongoing shift of Catholic voters to the Republican Party….and that both of the large parties becoming more pure either “pro” or “anti” on the issue. No longer are people of good conscience allowed to exist in the D’s and R’s. No better example could be found that when former East Grand Rapids Mayor Judy Frey, wife of financial scion and Republican donor David Frey was driven from the Republican State Committee for being pro-choice. The Democrats did the same thing to Bob Casey in Pennsylvania for his anti-abortion views.
I take solace in paraphrasing MLK. The long arc of political history seems to be bending toward a more libertarian attitude. Prop 3 will pass by a wide margin.
Jack Lessenberry says
We also live in a different world in other ways. Very few places had legal abortion in 1972; now, it has been legal nationwide for almost half a century. Can you even imagine voters in 1972 legalizing recreational marijuana, electing a Black President or accepting gay marriage? Everything Mr. Gelineau says above is also true, sadly.
Interesting history, but there’s much more to Proposal 3 than is mentioned above. See: https://www.greatlakesjc.org/resources/issue-briefs/
Timothy K SULLIVAN says
Interesting article Bill, with a nice history lesson thrown in. Too bad there are no more Bill Ryans in the House. My response is a bit long and some may think it a bit of a rant.
If Prop 3 is a topic for Off The Record, Tim Skubick may wish to dig deep into the PBS vaults for the discussion on abortion found in That Delicate Balance II – Our Bill of Rights: Life and Choice after Roe v. Wade. It would be an interesting opener for the show. The most interesting part was an exchange between Nadine Strossen and abortion opponent Burke Balch (along with Nat Hentoff) on how abortion opponents – like themselves – were imposing their religious views on others, which Mr. Balch, an agnostic at the time, and Mr. Hentoff, an atheist, found incredulous. Harvard professor Charles Nessen did not do appropriate follow up. Apparently challenging religious bigotry did not fall with the parameters of his position description.
As for the article, the most interesting thing about Prop 3 is the level of disinformation about it and, oddly, information about it. It is, quite frankly, radical. It permits unrestricted and unlimited abortion from the moment of conception to the moment of birth. For any reason. And there are consequences for that, intended and not.
First of all, what does Prop 3 do? On August 31, 2022, Conn Carroll wrote in the Washington Examiner, Michigan Democrats have succeeded in getting an initiative placed on this fall’s ballot that would effectively legalize all abortions. But that isn’t how Democrats are describing the initiative. They want you to believe instead that their proposed amendment to Michigan’s constitution would merely “codify Roe v Wade.” That is, that it was (to) reinstate for Michigan the constitutional right struck down by the federal Supreme Court.
But in reality, the proposal goes much further than that. Here is what the operative language says:
“An individual’s right to reproductive freedom shall not be denied, burdened, nor infringed upon unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved in the least restrictive means.
“Notwithstanding the above, the state may regulate the provision of abortion care after fetal viability, provided that in no circumstance shall the state prohibit an abortion that, in the professional judgment of an attending health care professional, is medically indicated to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant individual.
“…A state interest is “compelling” only if it is for the limited purpose of protecting the health of an individual seeking care consistent with accepted clinical standards of practice and evidence based medicine, and does not infringe on that individual’s autonomous decision making.”
There is no way any regulation of abortion would survive this constitutional amendment.
Mr. Carroll is right. No regulation of abortion survives this amendment. Parental notification laws are gone as the definition of compelling state interest in the amendment guarantees their demise. Waiting periods are gone for the same reason. Late term abortions are fine as are partial birth abortions by the individual’s right to reproductive freedom shall not be denied, burdened, nor infringed upon language. Arguments about their rarity are dishonest as they are permitted under the amendment.
The amendment does not define “Health Care Professional”. Use of this language in other states has been a way of finding other abortion providers who are not licensed medical doctors or others licensed in a state to perform invasive surgery. This lack of definition is deliberate. If they wanted it limited to licensed physicians, it would say licensed physicians.
Mr. Carroll continues, (f)irst, the “mental health” exception is so comprehensive that it is impossible to think of a single abortion it wouldn’t apply to. Where such mental health provisions are law in other countries, women in practice always find a doctor to say their mental health makes an abortion necessary. This is simply abortion on demand. Since Democrats constantly tell us that “abortion is health care,” every abortionist would be an “attending health care professional” under the amendment. And why would any abortionist not say that an abortion was needed for the “mental health” of the client paying them?
Second, look at the definition of “compelling” state interest. Notice that it only mentions the health “of an individual seeking care.” The baby is never mentioned. The amendment makes it impossible for the legislature to pass any legislation designed to protect the lives of babies in utero. By the definition of this amendment, no unborn baby’s life can ever be a “compelling” interest of the state.
This leads to my next point. What proponents of Prop 3, and most of the media, do not mention is that abortion kills a human being. This is not a religious argument, but a scientific one. Examination of any aborted fetus will not find the DNA of an aardvark, or lizard, or dog, or cat, or some collection of miscellaneous cells that no one can identify, but a human being. One of us.
Don’t believe me, read Michael Shermer, a supporter of legal abortion, who wrote in the September 2018 issue of “Scientific American”, Abortion does end a human life, so it should not be done without grave consideration for what is at stake, as we do with capital punishment and war. The authors of Prop 3 disagree.
Problems with Mr. Shermer, fifteen months later in the December 2019 issue of “The Atlantic’, Caitlyn Flanagan wrote, (a) picture of a 12-week fetus is a Rorschach test. Some people say that such an image doesn’t trouble them, that the fetus suggests the possibility of a developed baby but is far too removed from one to give them pause. I envy them. When I see that image, I have the opposite reaction. I think: Here is one of us; here is a baby. She has fingers and toes by now, eyelids and ears. She can hiccup—that tiny, chest-quaking motion that all parents know. Most fearfully, she is starting to get a distinct profile, her one and only face emerging. Each of these 12-week fetuses bears its own particular code: this one bound to be good at music; that one destined for a life of impatience, of tap, tap, tapping his pencil on the desk, waiting for recess.
What I can’t face about abortion is the reality of it: that these are human beings, the most vulnerable among us, and we have no care for them. How terrible to know that in the space of an hour, a baby could be alive—his heart beating, his kidneys creating the urine that becomes the amniotic fluid of his safe home – and then be dead, his heart stopped, his body soon to be discarded. The authors of Prop 3 do not care.
I could go on, but that might be considered redundant. But if Michigan public TV stations or Tim Skubick run the episode on That Delicate Balance II earlier referenced, I would recommend giving it a view.
So what would a Prop 3 Michigan look like? We need only take a very short trip in the Wayback machine to find out.
In Philadelphia, America’s most prolific serial killer, Kermit Gosnell ran an abortion clinic, “The Women’s Medical Society.” On April 12, 2013, Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic described it in great detail in his article entitled: Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story. His story links to the entire Grand Jury report.
He opens the story as follows: The grand jury report in the case of Kermit Gosnell, 72, is among the most horrifying I’ve read. “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors,” it states. “The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.”
Charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Gosnell is now standing trial in a Philadelphia courtroom. An NBC affiliate’s coverage includes testimony as grisly as you’d expect. “An unlicensed medical school graduate delivered graphic testimony about the chaos at a Philadelphia clinic where he helped perform late-term abortions,” the channel reports. “Stephen Massof described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, ‘literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.’ He testified that at times, when women were given medicine to speed up their deliveries, ‘it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.'”
One former employee described hearing a baby screaming after it was delivered during an abortion procedure. “I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little alien,” she testified. Said the Philadelphia Inquirer in its coverage, “Prosecutors have cited the dozens of jars of severed baby feet as an example of Gosnell’s idiosyncratic and illegal practice of providing abortions for cash to poor women pregnant longer than the 24-week cutoff for legal abortions in Pennsylvania.”
In describing Gosnell’s “medical practice”, Friedersdorf continues: When you perform late-term “abortions” by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care. But that was not what the Women’s Medical Society was about. Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them. He didn’t call it that. He called it “ensuring fetal demise.” The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that “snipping.”
Over the years, there were hundreds of “snippings.” Sometimes, if Gosnell was unavailable, the “snipping” was done by one of his fake doctors, or even by one of the administrative staff.
These late term abortions would be legal under Prop. 3. All of them.
This brings us to regulatory practices.
Mr. Friedersdorf continues: That brings us to a subject you’ve perhaps been wondering about: How on earth did this go on for so long without anyone stopping it? The grand jury delved into that very question in their report. I’m going to excerpt it at length, because it bears directly on the question that will concern us afterward: has this story gotten an appropriate amount of attention from the news media?
Here is the grand jury on oversight failures:
Pennsylvania is not a third-world country. There were several oversight agencies
that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago. But none of them did…
The first line of defense was the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The department’s job is to audit hospitals and outpatient medical facilities, like Gosnell’s, to make sure that they follow the rules and provide safe care. The department had contact with the Women’s Medical Society dating back to 1979, when it first issued approval to open an abortion clinic. It did not conduct another site review until 1989, ten years later. Numerous violations were already apparent, but Gosnell got a pass when he promised to fix them. Site reviews in 1992 and 1993 also noted various violations, but again failed to ensure they were corrected.
But at least the department had been doing something up to that point, however ineffectual. After 1993, even that pro forma effort came to an end. Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all… The only exception to this live-and-let-die policy was supposed to be for complaints dumped directly on the department’s doorstep. Those, at least, would be investigated. Except that there were complaints about Gosnell, repeatedly. Several different attorneys, representing women injured by Gosnell, contacted the department. A doctor from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hand-delivered a complaint, advising the department that numerous patients he had referred for abortions came back from Gosnell with the same venereal disease. The medical examiner of Delaware County informed the department that Gosnell had performed an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl carrying a 30-week-old baby. And the department received official notice that a woman named Karnamaya Mongar had died at Gosnell’s hands.
Yet not one of these alarm bells — not even Mrs. Mongar’s death — prompted the department to look at Gosnell or the Women’s Medical Society… But even this total abdication by the Department of Health might not have been fatal. Another agency with authority in the health field, the Pennsylvania Department of State, could have stopped Gosnell single-handedly.
The Department of State, through its Board of Medicine, licenses and oversees individual physicians… Almost a decade ago, a former employee of Gosnell presented the Board of Medicine with a complaint that laid out the whole scope of his operation: the unclean, unsterile conditions; the unlicensed workers; the unsupervised sedation; the underage abortion patients; even the over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street. The department assigned an investigator, whose investigation consisted primarily of an offsite interview with Gosnell. The investigator never inspected the facility, questioned other employees, or reviewed any records. Department attorneys chose to accept this incomplete investigation, and dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.
Shortly thereafter the department received an even more disturbing report — about a woman, years before Karnamaya Mongar, who died of sepsis after Gosnell perforated her uterus. The woman was 22 years old. A civil suit against Gosnell was settled for almost a million dollars, and the insurance company forwarded the information to the department. That report should have been all the confirmation needed for the complaint from the former employee that was already in the department’s possession. Instead, the department attorneys dismissed this complaint too… The same thing happened at least twice more: the department received complaints about lawsuits against Gosnell, but dismissed them as meaningless…
Philadelphia health department employees regularly visited the Women’s Medical Society to retrieve blood samples for testing purposes, but never noticed, or more likely never bothered to report, that anything was amiss. Another employee inspected the clinic in response to a complaint that dead fetuses were being stored in paper bags in the employees’ lunch refrigerator. The inspection confirmed numerous violations… But no follow-up was ever done… A health department representative also came to the clinic as part of a citywide vaccination program. She promptly discovered that Gosnell was scamming the program; she was the only employee, city or state, who actually tried to do something about the appalling things she saw there. By asking questions and poking around, she was able to file detailed reports identifying many of the most egregious elements of Gosnell’s practice. It should have been enough to stop him. But instead her reports went into a black hole, weeks before Karnamaya Mongar walked into the Woman’s Medical Society.
…And it wasn’t just government agencies that did nothing. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and its subsidiary, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, are in the same neighborhood as Gosnell’s office. State law requires hospitals to report complications from abortions. A decade ago, a Gosnell patient died at HUP after a botched abortion, and the hospital apparently filed the necessary report. But the victims kept coming in. At least three other Gosnell patients were brought to Penn facilities for emergency surgery; emergency room personnel said they have treated many others as well. And at least one additional woman was hospitalized there after Gosnell had begun a flagrantly illegal abortion of a 29-week-old fetus. Yet, other than the one initial report, Penn could find not a single case in which it complied with its legal duty to alert authorities to the danger. Not even when a second woman turned up virtually dead…
So too with the National Abortion Federation.
NAF is an association of abortion providers that upholds the strictest health and legal standards for its members. Gosnell, bizarrely, applied for admission shortly after Karnamaya Mongar’s death. Despite his various efforts to fool her, the evaluator from NAF readily noted that records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. It was the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. Of course, she rejected Gosnell’s application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen.
The conclusion drawn at the end of the section is provocative. “Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that,” it states. “But we think this was something more. We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”
As the Grand Jury reported: The first line of defense was the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The department’s job is to audit hospitals and outpatient medical facilities, like Gosnell’s, to make sure that they follow the rules and provide safe care. The department had contact with the Women’s Medical Society dating back to 1979, when it first issued approval to open an abortion clinic. It did not conduct another site review until 1989, ten years later. Numerous violations were already apparent, but Gosnell got a pass when he promised to fix them. Site reviews in 1992 and 1993 also noted various violations, but again failed to ensure they were corrected.
But at least the department had been doing something up to that point, however ineffectual. After 1993, even that pro forma effort came to an end. Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead, the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all…
The concerns of both administrations were that nothing should impede abortions. Toward this end, hand delivered complaints from a hospital were ignored, report from a Medical Examiner was ignored; and The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and its subsidiary, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center hospitals violated the law by not reporting complications from abortions.
Even “professional” organizations got in on the ‘fun’. The National Abortion Federation found his clinic abominable, refused to admit him to the organization because records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. Mr. Friedersdorf says the NAF representative found the clinic to be the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. But apparently not bad enough to be reported.
It gets worse. Mr. Friedersdorf noted that around 2003, the Pennsylvania Department of State, through its Board of Medicine, received a complaint from a former employee of Gosnell that laid out the whole scope of his operation: unclean, unsterile conditions; unlicensed workers; unsupervised sedation; underage abortion patients; even the over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street. The department assigned an investigator, whose investigation consisted primarily of an offsite interview with Gosnell. The investigator never inspected the facility, questioned other employees, or reviewed any records. Department attorneys chose to accept this incomplete investigation, and dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed. This is worse than ignoring. This is willful failure to perform one’s duty.
This level of cover-up in the form of willful blindness went well beyond government. Wikipedia (of all places) reports: Writing for The Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger responded that “we didn’t write more because the only abortion story most outlets ever cover in the news pages is every single threat or perceived threat to abortion rights. In fact, that is so fixed a view of what constitutes coverage of that issue that it’s genuinely hard, I think, for many journalists to see a story outside that paradigm as news. That’s not so much a conscious decision as a reflex, but the effect is one-sided coverage”. News, apparently, no longer consists of fact but of the narrative.
Wikipedia continues: Explaining why some of her colleagues did not report on the story, Henneberger wrote, “One colleague viewed Gosnell’s alleged atrocities as a local crime story, though I can’t think of another mass murder, with hundreds of victims, that we ever saw that way. Another said it was just too lurid, though that didn’t keep us from covering Jeffrey Dahmer, or that aspiring cannibal at the NYPD.” Writing for Bloomberg View, Jeffrey Goldberg said that this story “upsets a particular narrative about the reality of certain types of abortion, and that reality isn’t something some pro-choice absolutists want to discuss”.
This is the same conclusion Megan McArdle (now of the Washington Post) noted in the Daily Beast on April 12, 2013. A few paragraphs into her story, Ms McArdle, writing on the lack coverage in the Washington Post on the Gosnell trial by Sally Kliff and Molly Hemingway’s efforts to find out why writes: Then I decided, since tmatt has me reading the Washington Post every day, to look at how the paper’s health policy reporter was covering Gosnell. I have critiqued many of her stories on the Susan G. Komen Foundation (she wrote quite a bit about that) and the Sandra Fluke controversy (she wrote quite a bit about that) and the Todd Akin controversy (you know where this is going). In fact, a site search for that reporter – who is named Sarah Kliff – and stories Akin and Fluke and Komen – yields more than 80 hits. Guess how many stories she’s done on this abortionist’s mass murder trial. Did you guess zero? You’d be right.
So I asked her about it. Here’s her response:
Hi Molly – I cover policy for the Washington Post, not local crime, hence why I wrote about all the policy issues you mention.
Ms McArdle continues: Yes. She really, really, really said that. As Robert VerBruggen dryly responded:
Makes sense. Similarly, national gun-policy people do not cover local crime in places like Aurora or Newtown.
So when a private foundation privately decides to stop giving money to the country’s largest abortion provider, that is somehow a policy issue deserving of three dozen breathless hits. When a yahoo political candidate says something stupid about rape, that is a policy issue of such import that we got another three dozen hits about it from this reporter. It was so important that journalists found it fitting to ask every pro-lifer in their path to discuss it. And when someone says something mean to a birth control activist, that’s good for months of puffy profiles.
I know and like Sarah Kliff, and this seems harsh to me; there’s a lot of news out there, and sometimes we don’t cover everything our readers would like.
But Hemingway (who I also know and like), does have a point: the MSM has barely covered a story that could plausibly be named “The Trial of the Century”. And that demands explanation. So I’ll tell you why I haven’t covered it.
To start, it makes me ill. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read the grand jury inquiry. I am someone who cringes when I hear a description of a sprained ankle.
But I understand why my readers suspect me, and other pro-choice mainstream journalists, of being selective—of not wanting to cover the story because it showcased the ugliest possibilities of abortion rights. The truth is that most of us tend to be less interested in sick-making stories—if the sick-making was done by “our side.”
Bureaucratic indifference, administrative and political policy, and cover-ups by those who could stop it, this is how the Kermit Gosnells of this world function, thrive and survive.
Oh, people will state that in Pennsylvania, Gosnell was convicted, but my reading of Prop 3 leads me to conclude the only crime he could be charged with in Michigan under Prop 3 would be the manslaughter case of the unfortunate Karamaya Mongar. His butcher shop did not raise questions, but they thought he ran a pill mill and when they investigated that, they could no longer ignore him. And to prove that no good deed goes unpunished, Ed Cameron, arguably the best homicide prosecutor in Philadelphia and the trial prosecutor of Kermit Gosnell, was eventually reassigned from homicide to insurance fraud by Larry Krasner (watch the PBS series Philly DA, should be episode 3). Do not be confused by the use of the word transferred at the end of the episode. Cameron was reassigned. That’s a management initiated action, transfers are employee initiated in government service.
So let’s break this down. No one cared. The administrations of two governors, Tom Ridge a Republican and Ed Rendell a Democrat, did nothing. AS A MATTER OF POLICY. Does anyone think that our Michigan regulatory bodies, eviscerated by our legislature in the name of deregulation, have the staff to do the requisite inspections? Would it be a policy of the Whitmer administration? Would a Governor Dixon be able to get Republicans in the legislature to staff up any regulatory agency? Would the cities and counties do the investigations? And if a conscientious fire, health or building inspector did his/her job and reported it, would anything be done? Not bloody likely.
The real question for Michigan is if we want Michigan to be a state where America’s most prolific serial killer, Kermit Gosnell, would still be able to call himself doctor and practice his brand of “medicine.” As I read Prop 3, that’s what it would mean.
Therese Shaw says
What was the legal mechanism by which the Dobbs decision invalidated any state law regarding abortion that was passed after Roe and was in effect on the date of the Dobbs decision?
1. Not by operation of law.
2. Not by the text of the decision.
The case sent the decision back to the states which already had abortion laws on the books. This was state action.
The state could either retain these laws, or amend them, or rescind them.
Eric Petersen says
Don’t be fooled. Prop 3 is about the sterilization & sexual mutilation of Children. It would allow children to be permanently sexually mutilated without their parent’s knowledge or consent.
Children “exploring their sexual identity” could be given vasectomies, mastectomies, puberty blockers, and more – without their parent’s knowledge and even over their objections. This child abuse would be enshrined in our Constitution !
If approved by voters, ALL forms of abortion, including horrific late term abortions up to the moment of birth, and dismemberment abortions in which the baby is is simply ripped out of the mother’s womb limb-by-limb, would be legal !
PROP # MUST BE DEFEATED !!
Mike in TC says
Timothy Sullivan’s submission is long, but excellent. The takeaway: Prop 3 Is being advertised as reinstatement of Roe. It is a hell of a lot more significant than that. It legalizes ALL abortions, at ANY stage If that is what you want, vote yes”,.and write a letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania to free Dr. Gosnell from his mass murder conviction. If not, wait for a more nuanced proposal..True public opinion now (per polling) says abortions should be limited to early stages and/or with the exceptions of rape, incest, or health of the mother.
Gerald Hough says
Eric Peteresen is exactly right. This is a by design an effort by the current democratic administration to mislead the public. If passed all parental rights will be lost. Twelve and fourteen year girls will be able to go to their friendly abortionist, without their parents knowledge, nor will the abortionist need their consent. Is this what you want and mom dad ? I see years of legal challenges coming.
No on #3
Evil has a way to deceive one to believe it is good and good is evil. Abortion is murder by any definition. Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton would say abortion is “Illogical”. What would Jesus say? I think I know.
David L Richards says
What did Jesus actually say about abortion according to the Bible, not what you think you know?