CULTURE DIGEST: 'Spiritually innocent,' Gosnell says
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, convicted in May of first-degree murder in the killing of babies born alive, says he is "spiritually innocent" and remains "comfortable with the things" he did.
He defended his actions in a series of phone calls, emails and letters to Steve Volk, who wrote an article to be published in the October issue of Philadelphia magazine. A Sept. 23 blog post at the magazine's website reported some of Gosnell's comments to Volk.
"In an ideal world, we'd have no need for abortion," he told Volk. "But bringing a child into the world when it cannot be provided for, that there are not sufficient systems to support, is a greater sin. I considered myself to be in a war against poverty, and I feel comfortable with the things I did and the decisions I made."
The convictions concerned only three of hundreds of babies at least six months into gestation, who were killed outside the womb after induced delivery at a Philadelphia clinic. Gosnell, who destroyed the records in most of those deaths, or a co-worker typically killed the living children by a technique he called "snipping" -- jabbing scissors into the back of a baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. Gosnell received three consecutive life sentences for the crimes at the clinic criticized for its unsanitary and unsafe conditions.
Gosnell provided complex and not especially plausible reasons he should have been found not guilty, according to the blog post.
"I have come to believe that the presumption of guilt was compounded by religious convictions," he said. " … Were you aware that Seth [Williams, Philadelphia's district attorney] was an altar boy? Did you know of the strong Catholic presence in the homicide division?"
Dave Andrusko, editor of National Right to Life News Today, wrote Gosnell wants the reader "to judge him not on his actions but what he says are his misunderstood intentions. That is, don't look at what the Philadelphia Grand Jury believed were the hundreds of late abortions in which the child was aborted/delivered alive and then murdered when he severed their spinal cords. Or the women he maimed. Or the filthy pit in which women were treated like cattle. And, perhaps most of all, not the millions of dollars the prosecution said he made off these women and the illegal pill prescriptions he wrote to addicts."
Euthanasia deaths in Netherlands increase 13 percent
Euthanasia deaths in the Netherlands jumped 13 percent last year to constitute about three percent of all deaths in the European country.
Official statistics released Sept. 23 show 4,188 people died by euthanasia in 2012, an increase of nearly 500 from the previous year, The Daily Mail reported. It marked the sixth consecutive year for an increase in the Netherlands, which legalized euthanasia in 2002.
Last year was the first during which mobile euthanasia units staffed by doctors and nurses started crossing the country to end the lives of people in their homes. The teams -- known as Levenseinde, or "Life End," units -- go to the homes of people who desire to be euthanized but whose physicians have refused to do so.
Dutch law supposedly limits those eligible for euthanasia to people who are incurable and in unbearable pain, but the actual practice appears far more expansive. Newborns with disabilities and people with chronic depression, mental pain and even macular degeneration have been euthanized, said Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. Macular degeneration is an affliction typically in older people that causes a loss of vision in the center of the eye.
The totals do not include, euthanasia foes say, terminally sedated patients and involuntary victims of the practice.
Anti-euthanasia organizations decried the practice's increasing acceptance.
"The Dutch experience shows that euthanasia becomes routine," said Elspeth Chowdharay-Best of anti-euthanasia ALERT, according to The Daily Mail. "It traps more and more people into thinking they ought to leave this world prematurely.
"In that kind of culture euthanasia becomes expected and inevitable and everything else -- such as good palliative care and a functional hospice movement -- is gradually portrayed as rather selfish."
The Netherlands is one of three countries that have legalized euthanasia. The others are Belgium and Luxembourg.
Chinese using U.S. surrogates to avoid 'one-child' policy
Wealthy Chinese couples increasingly are paying American women to be surrogate mothers, sometimes to evade their country's "one-child" population control program.
Surrogacy businesses in both China and the United States reported a sharp rise in the demand by Chinese couples for American surrogates, Reuters News Service reported Sept. 23. As a result, some U.S. surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics have established websites in Chinese and hired people who can speak Mandarin.
While some Chinese citizens are seeking a first child because of infertility, others are hiring American women to sidestep their homeland's restrictive and coercive population policy. Also, some are seeking American citizenship for their children.
China's population control program policy, implemented in 1979, generally limits couples in urban areas to one child. It has resulted not only in many reports of authorities carrying out forced abortions and sterilizations on women without birth permits, but accounts of infanticide. The Chinese Health Ministry announced in March there had been 336 million abortions since the government first adopted stricter family planning practices in 1971, eight years before the "one-child" policy took effect.
Having a second child through surrogacy in the U.S. would still violate at least technically the "one-child" policy, but the Chinese government would find it difficult to enforce the law in such cases, a Shanghai lawyer told Reuters. Government authorities and workers at state-owned businesses are among their clients, Chinese surrogacy officials said.
Though Chinese couples usually want to use their own sperm and eggs in the procedures, some seek eggs from Asian donors, often Ivy League graduates or "tall, blond donors," said a surrogacy agency employee.
USDA settles lawsuit by Care Net pregnancy center
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will settle a lawsuit by a Care Net pregnancy center in Brattleboro, Vt., after the USDA's own National Appeals Division ruled the agency wrongly discriminated against the center.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Care Net of Windham County, announced the settlement Sept. 23. It followed a June decision by the USDA's National Appeals Division that the pro-life pregnancy center was eligible for a federal building loan from the agency.
The USDA's loan program for non-profits in rural areas specifies "a religious organization is eligible, on the same basis as any other eligible private organization, to access and participate in USDA assistance programs," World News Service reported. The USDA also says it does not require religious speech to occur in a separate facility.
The USDA, however, originally ruled the center was ineligible because of "faith-based eligibility criteria," an apparent reference to the Bible studies Care Net holds at its facility.
The settlement is not only a victory for Care Net but for "others who may seek loans for critical services to the community and don't want their religious speech held against them," said ADF Senior Counsel Steven Aden.
Care Net, a Christian organization, has a network of more than 1,100 pregnancy centers that provide various services to pregnant women and offer optional Bible studies.
Latest 40 Days for Life campaign kicks off
The latest 40 Days for Life campaign began Wednesday (Sept. 25) at 306 locations in 48 states and nine other countries.
In the past seven years, 40 Days has conducted its semi-annual campaigns of peaceful prayer vigils outside abortion clinics in more than 500 cities nationally and internationally. About 16,000 churches and 575,000 people have participated, and 40 Days reports 40 clinics have permanently closed because of the campaigns.
This fall's campaign, ending Nov. 3, will be conducted in Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Ghana, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Wales, the District of Columbia and every U.S. state except Hawaii and Wyoming.
Compiled by Washington Bureau chief Tom Strode. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).