The lead in Monday’s Kansas City Star tells the morally deaf in progressive America all they want to hear about a trial that will begin next Monday in Wichita, Kan.
“After years of protest, pleading and petitions, anti-abortion groups today will get what they’ve long sought: the start of a criminal trial against Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.”
“Tiller,” the Star continues, “faces 19 misdemeanor charges that he had an illegal financial relationship with a physician who authorized late-term abortions that Tiller performed.”
The Star reminds us, “Tiller insists that he follows all state laws regarding abortion.” And his attorneys repeat the line that the moribund Star and Wichita Eagle have been propagating for years, namely that “the charges were politically motivated,” the result of a long-standing “witch hunt.”
Tiller should be found guilty on the charges at hand. The consulting physician, Ann Kristin Neuhaus, has been twice branded a danger to the public by the Kansas Healing Arts Board and has no practice at all other than rubber-stamping the death warrants coming out of Tiller’s office.
As the all too typical experience of Michelle Armesto-Berge attests, however, this is no more a trial about “technicalities” than Nuremberg was.
In May 2003, as she would later testify before the Kansas legislature, the then 18-year-old Michelle Berge, now Armesto-Berge, was pressured by her mother to abort her baby in the 26th week of her pregnancy.
“It’s murder and I will not do it,” Michelle protested, but her mother had other plans. Staff at Tiller’s clinic eased those plans along by informing Michelle of a Catholic group that “believed in abortion” and promised baptism for the aborted baby.
In reality, the Catholic Church considers abortion “murder” and “always morally evil,” an article of faith that has so far eluded the ostensibly Catholic HHS nominee and Tiller patroness, Kathleen Sebelius.
As Michelle would soon learn, Tiller honored Kansas law about as faithfully as he proffered Catholic doctrine.
Under Kansas law, two independent physicians have to confirm that a woman carrying a viable unborn child could be saved from death or “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” only through a late-term abortion.
Not one woman among the five with whom Michelle was being processed, herself included, risked physical or mental health impairment of any sort.
The women talked among themselves during their stay in Wichita. “All were there,” Michelle testified, “because they were told [late-term abortion] would solve their problems.” These problems ranged from unreliable boyfriends to socially ambitious parents.
In other words, Tiller was fully prepared to abort five healthy babies, ready to be born to five healthy mothers, in flagrant disregard of the most serious of Kansas laws.
Had Tiller killed five puppies this wantonly he might well have joined NFL star Michael Vick at the slammer in Leavenworth.
Instead, the millions Tiller had contributed to local Democrats earned him a special exemption from state law and even a night in his honor in the middle of the criminal investigation chez Sebelius.
Tiller boasts on his website of having performed more than 60,000 abortions of “fetuses over 24 weeks.” Evidence suggests that the great majority of these babies were killed with equal indifference to the law.
After Michelle’s group watched a video on “Dr. Tiller’s legacy,” a nurse took her to a private room and prepared her for an ultrasound. When she tried to look at the screen, the nurse abruptly moved the screen away.
Michelle was then taken to another room. There a female doctor inserted a large needle twice to make sure she injected the unborn child, “and that,” said Michelle, “is when the baby was killed.”
Only after this procedure was completed did Michelle fill out the paperwork and meet with a counselor, a charge proven by time stamps on her medical records.
Michelle also met with a self-identified Unitarian minister who consoled her with the hitherto unknown Christian doctrine, “You have to take care of the ones who are here, not the ones who aren’t born.”
After the initial injections, Michelle underwent a variety of preparations to facilitate the delivery of the dead baby. A late-term abortion of this kind usually takes three days.
Like most other girls, Michelle spent her nights at a Wichita hotel, in Michelle’s case with her mother. On her second day, she met casually with Tiller for the first time but only for a few minutes.
He talked to her about his own teenage child and how presumably, “if in the same situation, would do the same thing.”
The next morning, Michelle’s fiancé found the hotel at which she was staying. “He begged me not to go through with the abortion,” she lamented, “and I told him it was too late.”
The fiancé was desperately sincere in his affection. Despite the abortion, he later married Michelle, and today the couple has three living children.
By the third day Michelle’s labor had proceeded to the point where she was ready to deliver. What follows is not for the faint of heart.
“I remember yelling at the nurse and calling her names and telling her I did not want to be on the toilet,” Michelle recounted.
“I finally birthed the baby, and I distinctly remember seeing the baby on the floor to the left of the toilet.” Said Michelle, “That image haunts me daily.”
Despite the alleged threat to her health, there was no follow-up care of any kind for the young woman. Nor did Tiller’s clinic call to see that there was.
Only when Michelle obtained her medical records four years after the abortion did she learn the depths of Tiller’s deceit: He had falsely designated her baby “non-viable,” a status that requires a lower standard of validation.
For an abortion on a viable baby, one capable of living, a second doctor, one not affiliated with the abortionist, must verify that the abortion is needed to prevent the mother’s death or impairment.
Even Neuhaus’ sham second opinion added time to the process, time that might have enabled a waverer like Michelle to resist parental pressure and halt the process.
Michelle’s husband believes that if his baby had been properly identified as viable, and a second opinion sought, he might have had time to reach Michelle early enough to save their baby.
Theirs was one baby out of 60,000 sacrificed to Tiller’s greed, Sebelius’ ambition and the media’s moral obtuseness.
While Tiller stands trial for these misdemeanors, Sebelius parties her way to the White House, and the man who made the trial possible, the heroic former Attorney General Phill Kline, finds himself exiled to Virginia.
There will not be much justice coming out of Wichita, but any little bit will help. After all, no one much complained when Al Capone was sidelined on tax charges.