Monday, September 26, 2005

The further invasion of Christin Gilbert's right to privacy

A sad, sad story about a 19-year-old girl with Down syndrome, her death from post-abortion complications, and her exploitation by Operation Rescue and other anti-abortion groups.

I first learned of Christin Gilbert in a WorldNetDaily column by Dr. Kelly Hollowell.

Hollowell describes Christin as having been "a very active high-school graduate and a beloved member of her softball team and community [Keller, Texas]."
Christin's luck unexpectedly ran out this past year when she was not only sexually assaulted in January of this year, but remarkably became pregnant. No one seems sure of the occurrence that young women diagnosed with DS become pregnant. According to the experts I consulted, the numbers are likely too rare for an official count. One thing is sure, of those becoming pregnant, complications are likely to exist.

In Christin's case, she was taken by her family at 28 weeks pregnant to Wichita, Kan., to the infamous abortion clinic of Dr. George Tiller.
Excluding a long and tangential Sam Brownback anecdote about Jimmy, the Down syndrome elevator operator in the Senate building, the column itself is a rehash of Operation Rescue material about the case.

I thought it odd that Operation Rescue would focus attention on the kind of case -- a pregnancy that resulted from the presumed rape (forcible or statutory) of a mentally deficient girl -- that would make even some of the absolutists among them very nervous.

But then I realized that despite their candlelight vigils and formulaic "mourning" for her, Operation Rescue didn't care about the real Christin Gilbert. They were simply using her, or more specifically, the forensic paraphernalia of her death, in their battle against Dr. Tiller.

Christin was just a convenient means to an end. For Operation Rescue, the primary purpose in obtaining Christin's autopsy report, the tapes of the clinic's 911 calls, and other materials was to harass Christin's doctor, an abortion provider who has long been a "killer" of interest to the group, which maintains a Tiller Watch on its website.

Other than the events immediately surrounding Christin's death in Wichita, neither Operation Rescue nor Dr. Hollowell seem to have any idea of what was going on in Christin's life, including the circumstances of the alleged sexual assault, the point at which her family first discovered Christin's pregnancy, the family's reaction to the pregnancy, and the psychological and medical impact of the pregnancy on Christin herself.

Consider this email from Dr. Hollowell. I had asked Hollowell to clarify the following the statements from her column:
One thing is sure, of those [Down syndrome patients] becoming pregnant, complications are likely to exist.

In Christin's case, she was taken by her family at 28 weeks pregnant to Wichita, Kan., to the infamous abortion clinic of Dr. George Tiller.
That segue bothered me. Was Hollowell implying that the Gilberts sought a third-trimester abortion for their daughter because of medical complications, ie, to save the life of the mother?

This was Dr. Hollowell's response:
I don't know the answer. I doubt anyone but the family and clinic workers know.

I suspect that the baby also had DS since it is a genetic disorder that would be passed on - but I can't be sure.

If that were the case children with DS frequently have a very difficult gestation often fraught with problems.

That is why one person suggested (as I included in my column) that Dr. Tiller wanted to kill both baby and mom - i.e. they both had disabilities.

I hope it goes without saying that I do not think disabilities are a just reason to kill a child.
Well now.

So Dr. Hollowell does not know if the Gilbert family had accepted Christin's pregnancy and then an emergent medical condition made a third-trimester abortion necessary.

But Hollowell is more than willing to pass along the "suggestion" that Dr. Tiller is the kind of man who would intentionally kill both a mother and a baby with Down syndrome.

A final thought: Just think about why the Gilberts had to travel nearly 400 miles from their home in the Dallas-Forth Worth area to Dr. Tiller's clinic in Wichita.

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Anonymous said...

Why did Dr. Tiller and Carhart walk away scott free when they clearly did nothing to prevent their patient dying a horrible death. Something which they clearly could have prevented, being medical doctors. The family of this girl deserved to make a killing off these doctors and their untrained staff. Just goes to show this country's obsession with the "doctor always being right."