Kermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia late-term abortionist, has been convicted. A jury found him guilty of murder for killing three babies after failed abortions, and of involuntary manslaughter for causing a woman's death.
Now comes the smear campaign. "Gosnell is not alone," says Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. "Gosnell is not an outlier," says Lila Rose, president of Live Action. Gosnell is "not the aberration," says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. Yoest points to investigations of other clinics for "dangerous and unsanitary practices that exposed women to injuries and infections, and infants born alive following attempted abortions."
The bad news for pro-lifers — and the good news for everybody else — is that Gosnell really is an outlier. Other abortion clinics don't do what he did to patients or live-born babies. Few have even come close: Late-term abortions and patient deaths are relatively rare. Part of the exonerating evidence comes from government data. The rest comes, inadvertently, from pro-lifers themselves.
Let's start with a myth that's been going around the pro-life echo chamber: that the number of babies born alive after failed abortions in this country exceeds 1,000 per year. Here's how the myth got started. On April 4, state Rep. Cary Pigman, R, told a Florida House committee that in 2010, a total of 1,270 infant deaths were given a range of perinatal disease codes denoting the causes or circumstances of death. One of the codes was P 96.4, which Pigman called "mortality subsequent to an abortion." Pigman didn't say where he got the number, but you can find it on page 24 of a report from the Centers for Disease Control. The table shows that the 1,270 deaths are the combined tally for all "other perinatal conditions," a category that includes a large number of codes.