The irony of the ‘right to life movement.’ Or, should I say, the lunacy of the ‘right to life movement.’


‘Right to life’ + ‘Don’t take my guns away’ = RIGHT-WING HYPOCRISY!

This is not the story I intended to write today; I was going to write about America’s most high profile hypocrite, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas. But Thomas’ indiscretions, his potential crimes, will not be going away soon. There will be plenty of time for stories about this embarrassment, not only to the American justice system, but to America writ large! In the Thomas story I was going to also write about the intransigence of Senator Diane Feinstein, an intransigence that can almost guarantee the elevation of more Thomas-like judges to the federal judiciary. But, apparently, Feinstein, like Thomas, will not be going away soon.

I deferred my Thomas commentary when four news stories crossed my desk over the last few days. One was about the consequences of Florida’s anti-abortion law (a law made considerably worse after Governor DeSantis signed a more restrictive, six-week abortion ban last week); three were about the most recent instances of gun violence. Each of these stories is horrific. The abortion story demonstrates the consequences of badly written laws on families and loved ones – laws that leave doctors cowering when faced with critical medical decisions, putting those decisions into the hands of administrators and lawyers. The three gun violence stories ended in the needless deaths of two individuals; the one that didn’t, and you won’t hear me say this often, might be attributed to “there but for the grace of God.”

The Non-Abortion Death

The abortion story was actually first reported in The Washington Post in February. It follows an Around the Block story I posted on April 11, Florida’s abortion restrictions have disrupted the standard of care for a pregnancy complication two women experienced late last year.

The Post’s headline:

Her baby has a deadly diagnosis. Her Florida doctors refused an abortion.

“Deborah Dorberts is devoting the final days before her baby’s birth to planning the details of the infant’s death. She and her husband will swaddle the newborn in a warm blanket, show their love and weep hello even as they say goodbye. They have decided to have the fragile body cremated and are looking into ways of memorializing their second-born child.”

The story continued, “Florida’s H.B. 5 — Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality — went into effect last July, soon after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a half-century constitutional right to abortion. (Thank you, Justice Alito and the aforementioned Clarence Thomas.)

The new law (the law, now superseded by DeSantis’ six week ban) bans abortion after 15 weeks with a couple of exceptions, including one that permits a later termination if “two physicians certify in writing that, in reasonable medical judgment, the fetus has a fatal fetal abnormality” and has not reached viability.

It is not clear how the Dorberts’ doctors applied the law in this situation. Their baby has a condition long considered lethal that is now the subject of clinical trials to assess a potential treatment.

“On the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, Deborah Dorbets had an appointment with a maternal fetal medicine specialist. A third ultrasound, now at 24 weeks gestation, confirmed earlier findings, Deborah said, and the specialist told them that the condition was incompatible with life. This doctor also gave the diagnosis its common name: Potter syndrome.

“He told them that some parents choose to continue to full term; others terminate the pregnancy through surgery or by inducing preterm labor, she recalled. He said he would begin contacting health-system administrators about the new law, and stepped out of the room to give the couple privacy to mull over their options.

“The Dorberts decided they would like to terminate the pregnancy as soon as they could. She recalls the doctor saying the termination, which would be performed by her obstetrician, might be possible between 28 and 32 weeks.”

The Post continued:

“In December, Deborah says, she texted the coordinator at the maternal fetal medicine office regularly, hoping to schedule an induction by Christmas. The response stunned her: After consulting health-system administrators about the law, the specialist concluded Deborah would have to wait until close to full term, around 37 weeks gestation, she recalled the coordinator telling her.

“The doctor made his determination after having ‘legal/administration look at the new law and the way it’s written,’ the coordinator reiterated to Deborah in a recent text message she shared with The Post. ‘It’s horribly written,’ the text continued.

In defense of the law, Kelli Stargel, a former Republican state senator and one of the bill’s key sponsors, said the law was written to permit abortions when there is no chance of survival.

“If the baby has a fatal fetal abnormality and cannot survive outside the womb, it can be terminated at any point in the pregnancy,” Stargel said. “It was my intention not to require a woman to maintain a pregnancy when doctors agree the baby is not viable.”

But, she said, if medical professionals and lawyers disagree, that will be decided in the court system.

In this case, medical professionals, fearing lawsuits, loss of license or arrest, demurred. Deborah Dorbets delivered a baby, with no chance of living.

According to Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida:

“The situation this family has been put in is cruel and unnecessary. No mother, father or grandparent should have to experience this.  

“Florida politicians are interfering with the most personal, complex decision a family must make during a pregnancy. We should trust this family and their physician to make the best medical decision for them.  

“Abortion bans don’t help families, and this situation shows how cruel and dangerous they are. When doctors can’t offer their patients all medically sound treatment options because they’re afraid of being sued, the patients and their families suffer.

“This family needs compassion, not government interference banning critical health care.”

Prior to signing the 6-week ban, DeSantis said, “We’re for pro-life.” Perhaps he should have added, “critical health care and compassion be damned!”

GOP (Grand Old Party)? Not for DeSantis and his cronies. They belong to the HOP – Hypocrites Old Party.

Gun Violence

What happened on the gun violence front this week or so is not, for once, about mass shootings. It’s about America’s run-of-the mill “I’ve got a gun and I’ll use it to shoot anyone when I want” epidemic.

The headline for story #1: White Kansas City man, 84, charged for shooting Black teen who went to wrong house

As reported by Reuters:

“Prosecutors charged an 84-year-old white Kansas City man, Andrew Lester, with two felonies on Monday in the shooting of a Black teenager, Ralph Yarl, who was wounded after walking up to the wrong house when going to pick up his younger twin brothers. Lester fired two shots through a glass door from a .32-caliber revolver, Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson said. Yarl, who was struck in the head and an arm, did not cross the threshold, adding it did not appear any words were exchanged in the encounter, according to Thompson.

What happened?

“On Thursday evening, Ralph was sent to pick up his younger twin brothers at a friend’s house. He mixed up the address and went to Northeast 115 Street instead of Northeast 115th Terrace, which is one block away.

“Mr. Lester answered the door, the authorities said, and shot the 16-year-old in the forehead and in the right arm. Afterward, Ralph made his way to another nearby house for help.

“It’s not clear if the teenager had knocked on Mr. Lester’s door or if he rang the doorbell. However, Mr. Thompson, the prosecutor, said that Ralph did not ‘cross the threshold’ into the home and that shots were fired through a glass door from a .32-caliber handgun. There was no indication that ‘any words were exchanged,’ Mr. Thompson said.

Ralph Yarl survived the shooting. But not before going to three neighboring houses to seek help. Help was rejected by the residents of the first two houses; the resident of the third house assisted by calling authorities, but only after he told the wounded, unarmed teenager to lie on the ground with his hands up. Fortunately, there are Good Samaritans in this neighborhood; another neighbor, James Lynch, hearing the shots, ran outside to get to Yarl where he and another neighbor, who came over with towels to help stem the bleeding, waited with Yarl until paramedics arrived.

It is expected that the shooter will use “Stand Your Ground,” the Right’s go-to “Don’t take my guns away” as his defense.

The headline for story #2: Kansas City shooting leaves 1 dead and 4 injured, including a child.

CNN: A gas station shooting in Kansas City, Missouri, on Friday night left one person dead and four people injured, including a child, according to a police department news release. Officers were dispatched just before 9:30 p.m. Friday on a report of the sound of gunshots. They found a man in the parking lot at the gas station, suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. The man was transported to an area hospital, where he died from his injuries, police said.

The headline for story #3: 20-year-old woman shot dead after pulling into wrong driveway, police say

Washington Post:A 20-year-old woman was shot dead after she and her friends accidentally pulled into the wrong driveway in Upstate New York while they were looking for their friend’s house. The homeowner, a 65-year-old man, has been charged with murder.

The incident took place Saturday night in Hebron, a small town northeast of Albany. Kaylin Gillis and three others were driving around the rural area with little to no cell service when they mistakenly drove into the driveway of a residence belonging to Kevin Monahan. 

“The friends ‘realized their mistake’ quickly and began to back out of the driveway, Sheriff Jeffrey J. Murphy said. But he said Monahan came out onto his porch and fired two shots — one of which hit Gillis. Police did not immediately say what type of weapon was used.

“‘None of the people inside the car got out or tried to enter Monahan’s house before he shot at them,’ Murphy said. ‘There was no reason for Mr. Monahan to feel threatened,’ he added.

“’This is a very sad case of some young adults that were looking for a friend’s house and ended up at this man’s house who decided to come out with a firearm and discharge it,’ Murphy said. He added that Gillis was ‘an innocent young girl’ and that he knew her family personally. ‘She was … taken way too young,’ he said.

“‘There’s clearly no threat from anyone in the vehicle,’ Sheriff Murphy said. ‘There’s no reason for Mr Monahan to feel threatened.

“Mr. Monahan was ‘uncooperative with the investigation and refused to exit his residence to speak with police’, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.”

Ms. Gillis and her friends are white. Despite that, I’m willing to bet that when Mr. Monahan does speak, his first words will be “Stand your ground.”

Lunacy. The Cambridge dictionary’s definition is the one that best describes the perpetrators of these crimes: “stupid behavior that will have bad results.” Stupid behavior, indeed. Stupid behavior by cynical politicians enabling dangerous people to behave stupidly! Dangerous people who clearly don’t believe in compassion or the misnamed “right to life” mantra.

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

2 thoughts on “The irony of the ‘right to life movement.’ Or, should I say, the lunacy of the ‘right to life movement.’

  1. Republicans are only pro-life until a fetus reaches birth. Once it becomes a baby, they could not care less what happens to it. They are oh so righteous when an unborn’s life is threatened, but once it is born it becomes a target for the pro-gun lobby. I find it amazing anyone in their “rignt” mind even votes for them, because these people are not right, they are absolutely wrong!


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