This week, Boston officials named the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Worcester Square as Dr. Kenneth C. Edelin Square. The ceremony was attended by over 100 people, including Edelin’s widow, city council members, and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Speakers included Mayor Martin J. Walsh, City Councilor At-Large Ayanna Pressley, Boston Medical Center’s president and CEO, Kate Walsh, and Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
Edelin’s accomplishments were featured in a glowing article written for the Boston Globe. He was a past chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Boston University School of Medicine, as well as a past director of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center). He was also the first African-American doctor to be named chief resident of Boston City Hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department.
But what wasn’t mentioned is the fact that Edelin was also an abortionist, who served as chairman of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1989 – 1992, as well as a member of the National Abortion Federation. And it was his career performing abortions that created scandal, including an allegation that he killed a baby who survived an abortion.
Sarah Terzo outlined the details of the case for Live Action News:
In 1973, Edelin was an abortionist at Boston City Hospital. A 17-year-old girl came in for a routine abortion. She claimed she was 17 weeks pregnant. One doctor examined her and said that she was closer 20 weeks. Later she was estimated to be 24 weeks along. Yet another doctor estimated her pregnancy as 22 weeks. Despite the confusion, Dr. Edelin and Dr. Penza (the abortionists on staff) chose to perform a saline abortion on her. A saline abortion is performed by injecting caustic saline solution into the woman’s uterus. The solution burns and poisons the baby over a period of several hours, and then labor is induced, with the woman “giving birth” to her dead child. This abortion procedure is seldom used today because of its risks to the mother and the large number of live births that were attributed to it.
The abortion went wrong from the beginning. Dr. Penza was to perform the saline abortion. After two attempts to inject the saline solution Dr. Penza gave up. Edelin took over and decided to perform [a] hysterotomy. A hysterotomy is a little used abortion procedure which is performed like a cesarean section – the womb is cut open, and the baby is removed. What happened next is still in dispute.
Edelin and his legal team claim that he “had run his finger around the uterine wall to separate the fetus from the placenta and then stood looking at a wall clock for three minutes before removing the fetus from the uterus,” effectively suffocating the preborn baby. Witnesses, however, said that the baby was born alive, and was then suffocated after the fact. A medical examiner and pathologist agreed that this scenario could be a possibility, after having examined the baby’s lungs to see if the baby had taken a breath. Witnesses also said that Edelin had stated that he had no intention of delivering a live baby, as “it would have been contrary to the wishes of the mother.”
He was convicted of manslaughter, but the verdict was slammed as racist, with an all-white jury convicting an African-American doctor. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts overturned the ruling a year later, with experts claiming that the baby was not viable, and therefore, anything Edelin might have done to kill the baby could not be prosecuted.
The Boston Globe skims over the details of this case, quoting Edelin as saying, “In Boston, it was the perfect storm. It was the religious climate; it was the racial climate. [Boston] had always been a cauldron when it came to women’s rights. It was the right place and the right time for those who wanted to make a statement. It was the wrong place and the wrong time for me.”
While the Globe says that he was exonerated, the reality is, that’s not quite the truth. When the verdict was overturned, it was not because Edelin had been conclusively proven to not have killed the baby — it was because the baby was denied its humanity, due to the fact that the baby was premature and likely would not have lived for very long.
And now, Edelin is being immortalized in Boston, despite this scandal, and despite the fact that he spent his career taking the lives of very much human reborn babies.