The politics of death

Ben Nelms's picture

If you have a weak stomach or get offended easily, please don’t read any further.

A premature baby lies alone on a table in a hospital utility room, dying. His heart is beating, his lungs are supplying the air he needs to breathe. Autonomic and central nervous systems are functioning. His arms and legs are moving in the air that is so different from the warm, liquid world of amniotic fluid that has until moments ago defined his world for the past 23 weeks.

If you found this infant, what would you do? Would you pick him up and try to find help? Or would you walk away, close the door and go about your business?

If you did nothing, would your conscience bother you at all? If you were a legislator, would you support a law to protect him and the others that suffer a similar fate? Would it make a difference if the infant had just survived an unsuccessful, induced labor abortion that resulted in a live birth?

This was the situation Registered Nurse Allison Baker discovered in 1998 in the Soiled Utility Room at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. This is the hospital that carries the motto, “Powerful medicine. Compassionate care.”

In her testimony before Congress on July 12, 2001, and prior to the passage of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, Christ (huh?) Hospital’s Baker said:

“When I first started, I was on day shift. I walked into the Soiled Utility Room to throw something away, and laying on the metal part of the table with nothing underneath, there was a fetus, a baby, moving vigorously, just laying there. I went out to find the nurse who was responsible for this baby, and she said that the mother had (undergone) what they call a therapeutic abortion ... and that she just didn’t have time to do anything with the baby at the time, and that if I could, could I wrap the baby and put the baby in a warmer.”

Make no mistake, what Baker and her coworker Jill Stanek testified about is called an “induced labor abortion” of a premature baby where a drug is inserted into the cervix to deliver, preferably dead, the premature but fully formed infant.

In this case and others, the babies did not die during the abortion procedure. Some have been left in places like utility rooms to die alone.

In my opinion, such action constitutes infanticide. I have no doubt that many will disagree, especially some medical “professionals.”

Congress subsequently passed the act that gave legal human rights to the babies that survive botched late-term abortions. Serving at the time in the Illinois Senate, Barack Obama voted “no” on the state version of the bill prior to the passage of the federal law, and voted “present” when it was presented to the Illinois Senate the following year.

Even the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood did not oppose the federal law.

“Present,” Mr. President? Regardless of his attributes and his mesmerizing message of hope, I would never, ever, vote for anyone who has so little regard for human life.

As far as I can tell, Obama has never said he regretted the votes he cast. He may believe these little ones deserve to end up on the trash dump of history.

“But IT was the product of an abortion and was supposed to die, so IT should not be given care,” some will say.

All of the above is where I draw a very serious line. I do not and will not condone or rationalize infanticide. For those of you who see this as just one more of the many hot-button issues that divide us, such is your decision. And if this column offends some of you, tell it to the little dead babies that end up in an incinerator or a trash dump.

But there are others reading these words who directly relate to what I’m saying. This is a spiritual issue. Not the pop culture variety of spirituality conjured up while entranced with the lights and sounds at a rock ‘n roll concert or when meditating on some latter day pantheistic vision that insists that nature is God.

The spirituality I speak of holds the sanctity of life without question. It is the fundamental human freedom, the need to live, without which none of the other freedoms could exist: without life, we would not be here to experience the others. This is not rocket science.

Prior to the past 10 years as a writer I spent 20 years in Human Services working with hundreds of really cool people with all kinds of disabilities. My advocacy as a voice for so many who, literally, had no voice was a privilege.

I suppose if Obama and other pro-death advocates (or should I have said pro-choice to placate the politically correct, euthanasia-advocating, conscience-cauterized humans for whom life is cheap and worthless and degraded?) had their way there would be no one left with disabilities. They would all be dead.

And, let’s see, who will be next? The frail? The elderly among us? Then who? You?

All of this really makes me wonder about something. What would it be like if all the hard-line advocates of the pro-choice world-view had been aborted by their mothers? Are they willing to put their money where their mouth is? Would they be willing to have been aborted? If so, there would be no national debate because they would not be here. If unwilling, doesn’t that make them hypocrites?

And what would the pro-death crowd say if they could cry out from the womb? “No, Mommy. Let me live.”

Or would they say, “It’s alright Mommy. Abort me. Let them stick that vacuum machine inside you and suck my body apart. I know I’ll feel the pain when it pulls my arms and legs off. I’ll feel it until it breaks my neck and collapses my skull. But it’s okay. I’m not a real human.”

This is one of the reasons why the stance taken by Sarah Palin in recent weeks in celebrating the life of her Down Syndrome baby during her entry onto the world stage was so compelling.

How interesting it is that the Republicans found their standard-bearer in Sarah Palin, a woman whose view on life is diametrically opposed to the Democratic standard-bearer, Barak Obama. No wonder the largely Democratic national media are giving this woman so much hell, doing to her family what they never did to Obama’s children or to Chelsea Clinton. This double standard is not escaping the notice of some.

All my life I have been a political independent. At the state level and nationally over the years, I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. I vote for the candidate, not for the party, regardless of the impassioned pleas of many friends over the years that hold party allegiance sacrosanct.

That brings me to the 2008 election. I had concluded months ago that I had little choice but to vote Libertarian, though I am not in lockstep agreement with their platform.

But in recent days two factors, more than all the many others I must consider, have emerged that compel me to vote Republican. The first is Obama’s continued call to increase nearly every tax on the books. I categorically refuse to support that insanity and began leaning toward casting my vote for the Republican ticket.

The second factor was the subject of this column. My hesitancy evaporated with announcement of Sarah Palin. (Perhaps she’ll be the nominee in 2012 unless she manages to thoroughly alienate the entire Republican establishment.)

McCain’s fortunate decision to pick someone for V.P. with the guts to take on her own party, the other party and the media is more than I had ever hoped for.

By the way, how many people knew Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter or John Kennedy before they ran nationally? What was their foreign policy experience? Only the brain-dead don’t remember that V.P.s are usually picked to bring in votes in specific geographical areas.

Bottom line, I think Palin is getting so much attention because she is articulate, feisty, magnetic and committed and stands to bring in a lot of votes for McCain. And the media knows it.

I fully expect she will have skeletons in her closet. I’ve never heard of a politician that did not. Unless Palin turns out to be a proponent of cigar insertion in the Oval Office, I will doubtless cast my vote for her, and hence for the Republican ticket.

But it was Obama’s unwillingness to give basic legal human rights to those little ones that lay dying after a botched abortion that sent me over the edge and primed me to vote Republican in the ’08 election. Even in areas like foreign policy, I trust McCain over Obama.

In the absence of the basic human quality of respect for the existence of another that comes from the wellspring of love there can be no hope, no change for a better life, for a better world.

Many things for all of us hinge on life and death. What is the price of compassion, the price of the simple willingness to treat others as we would like to be treated?

If a stranger stumbles, will you give her a hand? If one is hungry, will you feed her? If a little one is dying before your eyes, would you not try to save her life?

You may answer, Yes. So would Sarah Palin, even John McCain.

But Obama does not hold to the same world-view. His world-view on this critical, fundamental issue resides in another, more frightening realm, one where life is optional inside the moral wasteland of the politics of death.

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sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 9:47am.

Columnist Ben Nelms shows us this week that despite his shortcomings as a reporter, he still makes an excellent propaganda shill for his pet causes.

Like most shiny-eyed rabid anti-abortion zealots (or to use the PC term, "pro-lifer"), Nelms plays fast and loose with the facts to make his case. A careful examination of Nelms' overheated oratory shows that he made two substantial errors of fact and one substantial error of omission.

Nelms first lie occurs in the statement "his lungs are supplying the air he needs to breathe." This is an absolute falsehood. A fetus at that point of development has non-functioning lungs Lungs at this point have no blood vessels or aveoli. The lack the capacity to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Fetal development of lungs has never occured before 25 weeks and bare functionality of lungs (air exchange) is not possible before 29 weeks. LINK

Nelms second lie occurs when he claims that the fetus was 23 weeks old. According to the actual testimony of Nurse Baker, the fetus was at best 22 weeks along LINK. Why should we quibble about a single week? Honesty in reporting issues aside, the simple fact of the matter is that a 22-week-old fetus has less than a 10% survival rate in a best-case scenario, whereas a 23-week-old fetus has substantially better odds in a similar scenario LINK. The best-case scenario also presumes a healthy fetus....

...which brings us to Nelms third critical error, in this case an error of omission: What Nelms failed to tell his readers is that in every delivery case in Nurse Baker's lurid testimony, the fetus was severely mentally and/or physically retarded.. Now I realize that it is an article of faith that shiny-eyed anti-abortion zealots believe that women get abortions for the most specious of reasons ("Gee, I had a bad day, guess I'll go have an abortion tonight!").

In a reality-based world, though, women put a lot of thought into the decision as to whether or not to carry their pregnancy to term. 98.9% of all abortions occur prior to 20 weeks LINK. After 20 weeks, virtually all abortions occur either when a) the health of the mother is at risk or b) when severe mental/physical defects are identified (defects typically cannot be identified until this stage). Nelms would have you believe that his own value system regarding the viability and quality of life for the fetus is somehow superior to that of the mother and father who ultimately make the decision.

Simply put, despite Nelms' wretched rhetorical excess to the contrary, a person has better odds winning the lottery and getting struck by lightning on the same day as a mentally/physically retarded fetus has of surviving at 22 weeks.

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Fri, 10/31/2008 - 8:32am.

You wrote..."Prior to the past 10 years as a writer I spent 20 years in Human Services working with all kinds of really cool people with all kinds of disabilities. My advocacy as a voice for so many who, literally, had no voice was a privilege."
You have a good heart Ben. Somehow I already knew that. Smiling

Thanks for another great column. I agree with most everything you wrote.

Tug Smiling

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 5:41pm.

I don't know about Palin, in particular.

But, generally, I have to say that I am right there with you on the main point--the "politics of death."



"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by Nitpickers on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 6:51pm.

If we are to say that a certain belief or religion is required in order to lead us on nearly all subjects, then it is going to become difficult to find at least two who qualify!

People also do lie you know? Those who minister to the young and yet scourge their bodies--are they unfit to serve by admitting guilt?
If the aborting of a possible life by a confused woman who preached all of her life that it was murder to do so, make her a hypocrite or should she simply be forgiven and allowed to serve?

And, is it possible for a true Christian to lead a government and be the instrument of death for hundreds of thousands unnecessarily?

Or is the thing for which we look that which comes out of the mouths of those who wish to lead?

Wouldn't it be better to use leaders of knowledge and pride than those who espouse that which they only use for votes?

Will such things as abortions of all types be reduced by always voicing its sinfulness, whether or not the belief is there?

look to the future's picture
Submitted by look to the future on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 4:56pm.

only honor, there is only shame in the failure to do so. I agree with what Mr. Nelms has written and am certain that there are many others who would agree. From where I stand, Obama's voting record illustrates his inability to not take a stand on anything of value and use his excellent oratory skills as a catapult to where he is today. An alarming reflection on the nation as a whole if you ask me.

Submitted by truth speaker on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 4:34pm.

Mr. Nelms,
Your article is so full of un-truths and misrepresentations of the truth that it truly boggles the mind. Since you are an intelligent man, I can only assume that you are deliberately mis-leading your readers. Sen. Obama did not vote yes for the bills you cited because a: he knows that a doctor is bound by their oath to save the life of a child that is aborted alive, so it was unnecessary and b: he felt that the way the bill was worded would chip away at the powers of roe v wade - a supreme court decision that has saved countless women from performing coathanger and other un-safe abortions. The heart of the matter is that God gave us all free will and Obama believes that women have the right to exercise that free will. Since you stated in your article that you are a Libertarian supporter, you should be happy that he doesn't want the government involved in such a personal decision.
For the TRUTH, please go to
Truth Speaker

Submitted by 1bighammer on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 4:43pm.

an organization Obama Bought and Paid for? Yeah Right.

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 1:23pm. the cliff and continue your love fest for Mrs. Palin.

We are witnessing the fractioning of the Republican party and it is a wonderful thing to behold! The Republican party's obsession with women's wombs and their attempt to quash a woman's right to choose, will be their death knell. Mrs. Palin fully embodies the anti-choice position and she will be the new face of the Republican party in 2012, backed by fundamentalist radicals like Dobson, Perkins, Hagee, Parsley. The Republican party will continue to try and polarize the nation, however, they will only succeed in marginalizing themselves among voters even more. So...go for it!

George Will today:

"From the invasion of Iraq to the selection of Sarah Palin, carelessness has characterized recent episodes of faux conservatism....Some polls show that Palin has become an even heavier weight in John McCain's saddle than his association with George W. Bush."


look to the future's picture
Submitted by look to the future on Thu, 10/30/2008 - 11:25am.

on this and other important issues. I only hope that those that remain silent out of fear or reprisal or intellectual condescension will choose to make their voices heard come November 4th.

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