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Mark Steyn

Steyn on Culture

I've Got A Crush On You, Baby

If abortion were the respectable medical procedure its proponents insist it is, there would be no such thing as "Planned Parenthood", anymore than there is a Planned Hernia megacorp. We are told constantly that abortion is a very teensy-weensy, barely statistically measurable, all but undetectable micro-sliver of the wide range of "women's health" services Planned Parenthood provides. So it only does an estimated third of a million abortions per year - or about as many abortions as the combined total of half the remaining G7 nations (Germany, France, Canada). It is the single biggest aborter on the planet.

So the "right to choose" has facilitated the rise of a characteristically American racket: a billion-dollar "non-profit" that gets over half its funding from the US taxpayer and pays its eight top executives an average of 300 grand in order to serve as the paramilitary wing of reproductive liberalism. Planned Parenthood is an abortion-industrial complex: America is, alas, the abortion mill of the western world, and Cecile Richards' organization is its Standard Oil, US Steel and American Tobacco combined. Its ministrations fall disproportionately on minority women, so in that sense it is still true to the racist and eugenicist theories of its founder, Margaret Sanger: among blacks in New York City, there are more abortions than births - a grim ratio one otherwise has to go to Russia and its satellites to find.

Will the recently released undercover videos change the perception of what Planned Parenthood does? In USA Today, Kirsten Powers (a rare pro-life Democrat) notes that PP head honcho Cecile Richards has apparently apologized for "the uncompassionate tone her senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola, used to explain the process by which she harvests aborted body parts to be provided for medical research". "Dr" Nucatola's "tone" is certainly arresting. As she explains to a potential organ client over lunch:

You're just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact.

That's the easy part. But these days a lot of customers are interested in harvesting an intact brain to work on, so you gotta keep your graspers away from crushing the head - or, as "Dr" Nucatola prefers to call it, the "calvarium":

With the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it's not vertex, because when it's vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case, unless you have real, huge amount of dilation to deliver an intact calvarium. So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there's dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.

The chit-chat's all nice and medical, isn't it? If it's "vertex presentation" - ie, the baby comes out head-first - it's hard to get a nice clean intact skull. But, if it's "breech" - feet-first - then "you can evacuate an intact calvarium".

If it is, as Ms Richards says, merely a "tone" problem, it's a revealing one. It's not possible to "crush" as many nine-month-old "fetuses" as "Dr" Nucatola does and still retain your humanity. If would be an unbearable burden to regard the "fetus" as a baby and the "calvarium" as a head and the "evacuation" as a birth, and still go to work in the morning. So the de-humanization is part of what's necessary to survive as an abortionist.

And, once you accept that, what won't you accept? During the trial of "Dr" Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia reproductive-rights provider, the blogger Pundette compiled a list of questions she hoped that prosecuting counsel might ask him:

Why did you routinely suction out the brains and crush the skulls of babies after they were fully delivered?

Indeed. Usually the suctioning of the brains and crushing of the skull has to occur when the "calvarium" is still in the uterus. If you do it on the table, people might get the icky idea that it's infanticide or something. So the trick is to get to the head before it's cleared the cervix. "Dr" Tracy Weitz of the University of California, San Francisco explains:

When a procedure that usually involves the collapsing of the skull is done, it's usually done when the fetus is still in the uterus, not when the fetus has been delivered. . . . So, in terms of thinking about the difference between the way abortion providers who do later abortions in the United States practice, and this particular practice, they are completely worlds apart.

But Kermit Gosnell wasn't that good a doctor. So he preferred just to snip the spinal column. Which certainly kills the fetus. But then he additionally suctioned out the brain and crushed the skull.

Why? To make sure the dead baby was really, truly dead? Or just because he could? Or, like "Dr" Nucatola, once you've de-humanized what you do to get through the day, and you've decided that killing a healthy gurgling newborn isn't really killing at all, why restrict yourself to merely killing her once when you can kill her thrice? The Pundette posed another question of "Dr" Gosnell:

Why did you chop off and preserve baby hands and feet and display them in jars?

Which he did, like pickled eggs by the cash register of an English pub. There's no compelling medical reason for "Dr" Gosnell's extensive collection, but bottled baby feet certainly make a novelty paperweight or doorstop.

In the end he never took the stand, and the Pundette was obliged to provide her own response. "I think we already know the answer," she wrote. "He enjoyed it."

Kermit Gosnell was the most successful mass murderer in American history, but because he was a "women's health care provider" nobody knows that. The case barely made the papers. The enterprising and indefatigable Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney are crowdfunding a feature film about Gosnell mainly because no Hollywood studio or TV network ever will.

Gosnell was a nickel'n'dime abortionist so he turned baby parts into the abortionist's version of a Damien Hirst Turner Prize-winner. For Cecile Richards and "Dr" Nucatola, it's about market share and subsidiary rights and sub-licensing and diversifying your business model to leverage growth opportunities. So they sell baby parts. Once you're in the dehumanization business, each of us dehumanizes as he can.

In her USA Today column, Kirsten Powers adds:

It's a measure of how damning the video is that Planned Parenthood's usual defenders were nowhere to be found. There was total silence from The New York Times editorial board and their 10 (out of 11) pro-abortion rights columnists. Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi — both recipients of Planned Parenthood's highest honor, the Margaret Sanger Award — have been mum.

The silence is not from shame, or from having to defend the indefensible, but part of a much colder calculation: Silence is how you kill the story, for Planned Parenthood as for Gosnell.

And that's part of the dehumanization, too. When kids are slaughtered in a Connecticut schoolhouse or churchgoers are shot down in Charleston, the media jump straight on the public policy implications: gun control, Confederate flags at state buildings... But when baby parts are sold by an organization that receives half-a-billion in taxpayer funds, there are no public policy questions at all, and it is necessary to look away. Because the realities of abortion have to be crushed and smothered by the slick, blurry evasions of "a woman's right to choose". That's a dehumanization strategy, too. When the pro-choice rally ends and Cameron Diaz, Ashley Judd and other celebrities d'un certain age return to Hollywood, and the upper-middle-class women with the one designer baby go back to their suburbs, poor and minority and under-age women are left in the abortion-industrial complex's pro-choice back alley:

In December 2009, Metropolitan Medical Associates, based in Englewood, New Jersey, settled a $1.9 million lawsuit out of court filed by a woman who was comatose for one month following a botched abortion she received there.

Newark resident Rasheedah Dinkins had an abortion in January 2007 at the Metropolitan Medical Associates abortion business that went horribly wrong.

Dinkins, who was 22 at the time of the settlement, became severely ill following the abortion and was transferred to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center where she needed blood transfusions and had her uterus removed. She also suffered a stroke due to the serious blood loss and had one of her lungs collapse.

At the time Metropolitan Medical Associates was performing 10,000 abortions a year - or about as many as Switzerland. Among developed nations, only America kills on this scale and in this manner. You can't do it and retain your humanity.

The most forceful part of Kirsten Powers' column is the headline: "Crush Planned Parenthood." But to do that is to ask American liberals to confront honestly the metastasizing evil they have loosed upon the land. It is easier, under the cover of "choice", to go on crushing the parts of babies with no retail value.

~Today I will be keeping my weekly radio date with Hugh Hewitt, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

from Steyn on Culture, July 23, 2015

 

The Stupidity of Sophisticates

Last week, I swung by the Bill Bennett show to chew over the news of the hour. A few minutes before my grand entrance, one of Bill's listeners had taken issue with the idea that these Supreme Court decisions weren't the end and, if you just got on with your life and tended to your garden, things wouldn't be so bad: Claudine came on and said that's what Germans reckoned in the 1930s: just keep your head down and the storm will pass. How'd that work out? David Kelsey writes from the University of ...

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I started the day on Bill Bennett's radio show, which is always fun. Jonah Goldberg was on before me, and advanced the proposition, after the Supreme Court's almighty constitutional bender, that it wasn't so bad; conservatives who just pottered around in their own world and tended to their families could still lead lives largely unbattered by the forces of "progress". A few minutes later...

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Ooze You Can Use

As we announced earlier, SteynOnline is marking the official launch of Hillary 2016! by rerunning some favorites of mine since I first started writing about Mrs Clinton back in the Nineties. So, as we pitch base camp on the Hill to die on, here's my review of her memoirs, Living History, from Britain's Sunday Telegraph of June 16th 2003.

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A Tale of Two Rapes

Why are media feminists more agitated over fake rape than real rape?

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The murder of Matthew Shepard 17 years ago - is the clearest example of what happens when a favored lobby group inserts itself between the news coverage and reality

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Allahu Hackbar!

So, just as President Obama is giving a big speech on cyber-security, the jihackists of the Islamic State manage to take over the Twitter and YouTube accounts of the Pentagon's Central Command...

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A superpower unmatched at everything - except winning

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The courage of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the cowardice of Brandeis University

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Live Brie or Die!

On the radio with Michael Graham this afternoon (about one hour and fifty minutes in, I gather), I brought up what Time magazine calls "Europe's War On American Cheese"...

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Here are two jokes one can no longer tell on American TV...

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Big Government's Back Alley

From two years ago, here's Mark's first thoughts on the Kermit Gosnell case

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Tiptoeing on ever-thinner eggshells

He who controls the language shapes the debate: In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as "illegal immigrants," the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. "I am worried," wrote Maureen Dowd, "about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don't even seem to realize that most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual'..."

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Don't cross the forces of tolerance

To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but aldermanic power corrupts all der more manically. Proco "Joe" Moreno is Alderman of the First Ward of Chicago, and last week, in a city with an Aurora-size body count every weekend, his priority was to take the municipal tire-iron to the owners of a chain of fast-food restaurants. "Because of this man's ignorance," said Alderman Moreno, "I will now be denying Chick-fil-A's permit to open a restaurant in the First Ward." "This man's ignorance"? You mean, of the City of Chicago permit process? Zoning regulations? Health and safety ordinances? No, Alderman Moreno means "this man's ignorance" of the approved position on same-sex marriage.

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This youth movement has women covered

Media types like to talk about "the narrative": News is just another form of storytelling, and certain plot lines grab you more than others. The easiest narrative of all is anything involving young people. "I believe that children are our future," as the late Whitney Houston once asserted. And, even if Whitney hadn't believed it, it would still, as a point of fact, be true. Any media narrative involving young people presupposes that they are the forces of progress, wresting the world from the grasping clutches of mean, vengeful old men and making it a better place...

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Hookers bring Secret Service to its knees

Unlike the government of the United States, I can't claim any hands-on experience with Colombian hookers. But I was impressed by the rates charged by Miss Dania Suarez, and even more impressed by the U.S. Secret Service's response to them...

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Liberals 'conformity enforcers,' 'stupefyingly intolerant'

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Who's Obama sneering at?

Our lesson for today comes from George and Ira Gershwin: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus When he said the world was round They all laughed when Edison recorded sound They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother When they said that man could fly They told Marconi wireless was a phony..." Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers sang it in the film "Shall We Dance?" (1937) Seventy-five years on, the president revived it to tap-dance around his rising gas prices and falling approval numbers. Delivering his big speech on energy at Prince George's Community College, he insisted the American economy will be going gangbusters again just as soon as we start running it on algae and windmills. He noted that, as with Wilbur and his brother, there were those inclined to titter...

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Miss Fluke goes to Washington

I'm writing this from Australia, so, if I'm not quite up to speed on recent events in the United States, bear with me – the telegraph updates are a bit slow here in the bush. As I understand it, Sandra Fluke is a young coed who attends Georgetown Law and recently testified before Congress. Oh, wait, no. Update: It wasn't a congressional hearing; the Democrats just got it up to look like one, like summer stock, with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid doing the show right here in the barn and providing a cardboard set for the world premiere of "Miss Fluke Goes To Washington," with full supporting cast led by Chuck Schumer strolling in through the French windows in tennis whites and drawling, "Anyone for bull****?"

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Handing out condoms on the Titanic

Have you seen the official White House version of what the New York Times headline writers call "A Responsible Budget"? My favorite bit is Chart 5-1 on Page 58 of their 500-page appendix on "Analytical Perspectives." This is entitled "Publicly Held Debt Under 2013 Budget Policy Projections." It's a straight line going straight up before disappearing off the top right hand corner of the graph in the year 2084 and continuing northeast straight through your eye socket, out the back of your skull and zooming up to rendezvous with Newt's space colony on the moon circa 2100...

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Obama goes Henry VIII on the Church

Announcing his support for Commissar Sebelius' edicts on contraception, sterilization, and pharmacological abortion, that noted theologian the Most Reverend Al Sharpton explained: "If we are going to have a separation of church and state, we're going to have a separation of church and state." Thanks for clarifying that. The church model the young American state wished to separate from was that of the British monarch, who remains to this day Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This convenient arrangement dates from the 1534 Act of Supremacy. The title of the law gives you the general upshot, but, just in case you're a bit slow on the uptake, the text proclaims "the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be the supreme head of the Church of England." That's to say, the sovereign is "the only supreme head on earth of the Church" and he shall enjoy "all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity," not to mention His Majesty "shall have full power and authority from time to time to visit, repress, redress, record, order, correct, restrain and amend all such errors, heresies, abuses, offenses, contempts and enormities, whatsoever they be." Welcome to Obamacare.

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Komen has its awareness raised

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'Vrouwen en kinderen eerst gold nog wel op de Titanic, maar niet op de Concordia'

For our Dutch readers...

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No More 'Women and Children First'

Abe Greenwald of Commentary magazine tweets: "Is there any chance that Mark Steyn won't use the Italian captain fleeing the sinking ship as the lead metaphor in a column on EU collapse?" Oh, dear. You've got to get up early in the morning to beat me to civilizational-collapse metaphors. Been there, done that.

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YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A DEAD, HANGING SANTA CLAUS

When Christians take the Christ out of Christmas

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YES, VIRGINIA,THERE IS A DEAD, HANGING SANTA CLAUS

Christmas in America is a season of time-honored traditions – the sacred performance of the annual ACLU lawsuit over the presence of an insufficiently secular "holiday" tree; the ritual provocations of the atheist displays licensed by pitifully appeasing municipalities to sit between the menorah and the giant Frosty the Snowman; the familiar strains of every hack columnist's "war on Christmas" column rolling off the keyboard as easily as Richard Clayderman playing "Winter Wonderland"... This ...

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