The Suzy B Blog

Nov 1, 2013
Ridge is wrong
Chris Crawford

Earlier this week, former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge went on an all-out verbal assault against social conservatives, including pro-lifers, within the Republican Party. He called social conservatives “narcissists and ideologues” that are “too damned self-righteous” and are imposing “tyranny” on the nation. He said that pro-lifers had forgotten about the separation of church and state and he laid the blame for electoral losses at their feet.

Ridge is wrong in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to start.

First, Ridge is wrong about electoral politics. Republicans have lost the last two elections despite nominating candidates who, while they were pro-life, refused to go on offense on the issue of abortion. Five of the seven Republican congressmen who voted against a ban on sex-selection abortion were forced out of Congress during the last election cycle. And in Ridge’s home state of Pennsylvania, the voters have elected broad cross sections of pro-life, bipartisan legislators to the U.S. House and Senate.  

Additionally, Ridge’s own self-righteousness is alarming considering his record on abortion. In the wake of the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia, many Americans wondered how such a monster could work undetected for such a long period of time. The grand jury in the case placed the blame squarely upon Governor Ridge. Describing Ridge’s administration, they said the following:

“…the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.”

In the name of “women’s health”, Tom Ridge allowed Gosnell’s House of Horrors to go uninspected for 18 years, despite warnings of illegal late-term abortions and the death and harm of women within the clinic. Ridge would have Republicans believe that he was a pro-woman, pragmatic governor who focused on governing. In reality, it was Ridge who was an ideologue, choosing to score political points rather than protect women.

Ridge is right to say that there is a split in the Republican Party. On one side, there is a man who enabled Kermit Gosnell. On the other, there are those who are working to stop future Gosnells.  It is not a divide between right and left, it is a divide between right and wrong. And Tom Ridge is standing on the wrong side.


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Tags: Kermit Gosnell, Pennsylvania, pro-life, Republican Party, Tom Ridge
Aug 12, 2013
Report: Wendy Davis to run for Governor

Reportedly, a formerly obscure Texas State Senator is planning to run for Governor in 2014.  That would be Wendy Davis, now known internationally for her 10-hour filibuster of a wildly popular Texas bill that would protect the lives of unborn children after 20 weeks, the point at which they feel excruciating pain as they are violently killed through abortion.  (The bill passed later in a second special session.) 

Davis appears to have gambled on a statewide run because re-election to her own State Senate district was looking pretty dicey: in his 2010 re-election campaign, current pro-life Governor Rick Perry won 52.7% of the vote in Davis’ district; last year, Mitt Romney took 53.3%.  After fielding a largely unknown challenger to Davis last year (who still drew 49% of the vote against her), pro-lifers are sure to rally behind Konni Burton.

But the Governor’s race won’t be much easier for Davis.  Not only does Greg Abbott, the pro-life Republican frontrunner, hold a consistent lead in polling (polls from left-leaning PPP, by the way), but Davis, known best as a defender of brutal late-term abortion, will also have to tell Texans why she thinks it’s ok for Kermit Gosnell-style abortionists in Texas to dismember children who can feel pain in the womb.  With polls in Texas and the country at large showing a healthy majority—among both women and men, every age group, every race; regardless of marital status, income, or religious attendance; and even a plurality of Davis’ own party—favor banning abortion after 20 weeks, Davis will have some ‘splainin’ to do.

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Tags: politics, Texas
Aug 7, 2013
Assessing Fetal Pain: A Response

A recent New York Times article appraised the fetal pain argument as a legitimate base work for abortion legislation. The article correctly pointed out that “one recent poll” found a majority of people would draw the line for abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. I would add that a number of polls further corroborate this finding. Polling by Quinnipiac, National Journal, Huffington Post, NBC/Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post/ABC News have all found that either a plurality or majority of Americans support limiting abortion after 20 weeks gestation, and that women support the measure in higher numbers than men. The tremendous public support for this common ground limit has provided momentum key to its success.

While the Times piece provides an excellent background on the strategy and history of the legislation, there remain two points that are misleading.

First, the author states that fetal pain laws are “based on disputed scientific theories” and that “most scientists and medical associations say that perception of pain is impossible without brain developments that occur well after 20 weeks.” But there is in fact much evidence to support the claim that babies feel pain.

Pain receptors are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body by no later than 16 weeks after fertilization, and nerves link these receptors to the brain’s thalamus and subcortical plate by no later than 20 weeks. The particular “brain development” that does not occur until after 20 weeks is the cerebral cortex. However, there is substantial evidence that the thalamus—not the cerebral cortex—is principally responsible for pain perception. In fact, in adults, excision/ removal of the cerebral cortex does not alter pain perception, but excision/ removal of the thalamus does.

Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand of the University of Tennessee stated in his report accepted as expert by a federal judge, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and the pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by term newborns or older children.” This is due to the extremely vulnerable stage the baby is at in its development. Dr. Paul Ranalli, a neurologist at the University of Toronto, explains, “The pain system is fully established, yet the higher level pain-modifying system has barely begun to develop.” This explanation makes sense given that doctors administer anesthesia in utero

Dr. Colleen Malloy of Northwestern University summarizes the core of the debate in her expert testimony before the House Judiciary Committee: “There is no reason to believe that a born infant would feel pain any differently than that same infant were he or she still in utero. Thus, the difference between fetal and neonatal pain is simply the locale in which the pain occurs. The receiver’s experience of the pain is the same.”

The second claim that requires clarification is that post-viability abortions are illegal. The author says, “The Supreme Court, including Justice Kennedy, has repeatedly affirmed viability as the point at which the state’s interest in protecting life outweighs a woman’s right to control her body.” But in practice this standard has been grossly applied. The Guttmacher Institute points out that a majority of states permit abortion post viability to preserve the life or health of the woman. This is a deceivingly moderate standard given that “health” includes a vast range of mental health exceptions (including “mental distress”), and – arguably tellingly – that “fetal viability” is to be defined by each individual physician. 

Notorious late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart has been caught on video saying he performs elective post-viability abortions. Live Action films recorded Carhart saying that he would do an abortion on a 26 week old baby – and Carhart acknowledges that if the baby were to be born that day, it would have had a 50-50 chance of surviving.

Guttmacher reports that in 2011, 18,185 abortions were performed at or after 21 weeks gestational age. That is 18,185 babies subjected to an excruciating procedure that dismembers the baby’s limbs one by one after crushing and suctioning her skull.

 As the New York Times article points out, there is absolutely an upward trend of citizens who support federal legislation that bans barbaric late-term abortions. This is beyond a simple fad or rhetorical appeal to public sentiments. Opposition to late-term abortions is based upon scientific evidence.  It is centered on a profound commitment to protecting human rights.

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Tags: abortion legislation, fetal pain, Late-term abortion
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