The National Pro-Life Center is joining with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference in calling for legislation that will make abortion practitioners accountable:"The horrible work of the abortion trade has been largely left unregulated because of a perverse belief that abortion is a sacrosanct Constitutional 'right' that cannot be abridged." (Fr. Paul Schenck)
HARRISBURG, PA (Catholic Online) - I recently heard from a Pro-Life champion, Fr. Paul Schenck, concerning a critically important hearing held on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 in Pennsylvania. I have known Fr. Paul for decades. I stood with him in several capacities on his life journey. He is currently the founder and chairman of the Washington, DC based National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) and a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg. Whenever Fr. Paul calls, I stop everything. Let me give some background to explain why.
As a lawyer, I helped to defend him for years against unconstitutional efforts to prevent him from speaking the truth concerning the intrinsic evil of every procured abortion. That culminated at the US Supreme Court when I served as Co- Counsel to renowned Constitutional attorney Jay Sekulow who successfully argued for the vindication of then Pastor Paul Schenck. Jay won a landmark case in constitutional law, Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network, which is now a part of American legal history. The precedent established helped to secure the First Amendment Rights of all who stand in solidarity with those who have no voice but ours to defend them.
In addition, I have had the privilege of being part of his journey toward the Catholic faith. It led him from evangelicalism to the Episcopal priesthood and then to the altar where he entered into the full communion of the Catholic Church. I served as Deacon at the Mass of reception where Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life received his profession of the ancient creed. It was a moment of joy I thought could not be surpassed. That was, until years later when I attended his ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood. This journey will be the subject of a book I am helping him to write. It is a story which must be told.
Like Fr Paul I have been involved in the great human rights struggle of our age for decades. However, it is men like him who have borne the heat of the day. He is, to borrow the nickname of heavyweight boxer Evander Holyfield, the "real deal." He was unafraid to suffer for our youngest neighbors to the point of enduring unjust imprisonment. I hired him in the early nineties while he was under "house arrest" with an ankle bracelet and I was the Executive Director of the ACLJ. After his victory at the US Supreme Court that bracelet is a symbol to me of the kind of courage I wish I had. So, when Fr. Paul calls, I listen.
He told me of this State senate hearing called in response to the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the West Philadelphia abortionist criminally charged for the commission of eight murders. I wrote about the story when it hit the national news. Seven children were executed after birth. This horrid man utilized a procedure he referred to as "snipping," severing their spinal cord with surgical scissors which he inserted into the back of their necks. The eighth charge involved the death of one of the mothers from an overdose of anesthetics administered during one of the executions.
Father Paul Schenck accompanied the leader of the Pennsylvania Catholic conference to this hearing on Tuesday. He said it was a matter of National interest which I must write about. I knew he was right. I read the 62 pages of Grand Jury testimony in this matter. It is bone chilling and maddening. It discloses the abject failure of state regulators to provide oversight of what witnesses properly called a "house of horrors." As a former prosecutor, I admire Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. He has shown tremendous leadership in prosecuting this case.
Williams told the Senate committee Tuesday that the grand jury felt that the agencies involved seemed "more interested in protecting the interest of the departments than the interests of women and young girls." He repeated what I heard him say in numerous interviews with the National Press after the disclosure of this crime; there is "more oversight of women's hair salons and nail salons."
He noted that though there were multiple lawsuits against Gosnell, Pennsylvania officials took no action against him until after a federal drug raid of his abortion center. The existence of this house of horrors is a result of the lack of any regulation of abortion facilities in Pennsylvania. This facility had not been inspected in 17 years. What is needed is obvious to any reasonable person. Until they are shut down, which they should be, these places should be regulated in the same manner as ambulatory surgery centers.
The case out of West Philadelphia revealed only the tip of a proverbial iceberg; squalid, unregulated abortion mills where women are subjected to substandard "services" and children are killed, even after they are born. This call for regulating these houses of horror is being heard in Harrisburg. The Commonwealth's new Republican Governor Tom Corbett has promised action. The evils disclosed have garnered a response across party lines. The District Attorney, Seth Williams, is a Democrat. He and his staff are leading an unrelenting charge against rogue abortionists like Gosnell.
In addition, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud. The response of the public has been overwhelming. Inspiring shows of compassion are occurring almost daily as people offer to pay for the burial of the children. However, Fr. Paul's spoke words which haunted me and prompted me to write this article, "Deacon Keith, my greatest fear is that all of this concern and compassion will fall by the wayside once the budget process begins in Harrisburg." I knew I had to do everything I could to make sure that does not happen.
There are times when the truth concerning what happens in every procured abortion becomes obvious and the nation is shaken out of its complacency. I hope and pray that the House of Horrors found in Philadelphia will be one of those moments. The 62-page grand Jury record details that dead children were kept in bottles of Formaldehyde and their "severed feet" and "body parts" kept in the same refrigerator where the staff kept their lunch.
The perpetrator/doctor (executioner) was paid on a sliding scale depending on the age and size of the child. He had utter disdain for the women and his barbarity toward these children properly earned the label, applied by one of the participants in Tuesday's hearing, of a "serial killer". He became a wealthy man by shedding the blood of innocents. He now claims to be insolvent and seeks a public defender paid for by tax dollars.
However, while the larger issue of the intrinsically evil nature of every procured abortion must still be faced, the fact that abortion "clinics" are not regulated must not be allowed to continue. It is time for action. The National Pro-Life Center, founded by Fr Paul Schenck, is joining with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference in calling for legislation that will make abortion practitioners accountable.
Fr. Schenck told me, "The horrible work of the abortion trade has been largely left unregulated because of a perverse and irrational belief that abortion is a sacrosanct Constitutional 'right' that cannot be abridged under any circumstances. As a result, women and children have been abused and killed. We urge every effort to reign in rogue abortionists and hold them accountable for their deeds."
He pointed out that what Gosnell did was only a matter of hygiene and degree, "A baby dies and a woman is injured in every abortion." Finally, he told me he will lead an effort to urge lawmakers to pass laws and improve regulation and inspections. Of course, I was not surprised. This lifelong champion of our smallest neighbors in the womb has been leading the charge for decades. And, once again, I will join him in his Pro-Life work and on his Pro-Life journey and consider it an honor.
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