I saw the most amazing episode of House the other night.
The team of TV medical detectives diagnosed a brain tumor and ordered an emergency MRI - but they were wrong. As usual.
Dr. House, the strangely likeable obnoxious jerk, had to almost kill the patient to save her with a brilliant diagnosis of something extremely rare like "malignant mavrojitis." That always happens too.
But then something amazing and unexpected happened: A message that was pro-life.
During in-utero surgery, the "lump of tissue'' House wanted to kill to save the mother reached out a tiny hand and clutched his finger. From that point on, House stopped calling it a fetus and called it a baby.
The story was based on true pictures of "Baby Samuel," who was just 21 weeks old when he grasped a doctor's finger during a similar operation in 1999.
"Samuel did reach from his mother's womb completely on his own, and he reacted to the touch of his surgeon by squeezing the doctor's finger," said photographer Michael Clancy, who said the photo he took "made a pro-lifer out of me."
This week, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to ban partial birth abortions that dismember and cruelly kill infants like Baby Samuel. I wonder if Supreme Court justices watch House?
"That kind of thing makes it impossible to argue rationally anymore that it is just a lump of tissue," said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and author of "Ending Abortion - Not Just Fighting It."
Pavone was in town to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pregnancy Center East, which has given 20,000 women an alternative to abortion and saved thousands of children since 1982.
Thanks to efforts like that, Pavone believes the pro-life side is winning. He sees cultural changes as amazing as those pictures of Baby Samuel:
Modern science now proves life begins at conception, he said, with evidence that was not available when abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Evidence of the damage caused by abortion is also piling up. "So many men and women who have been harmed and sought healing are now speaking up," Pavone said. Studies in medical journals show drug and alcohol abuse and other emotional problems are more likely for women who have had abortions.
Pro-lifers are winning in court, Pavone said. Laws that protect unborn victims of accidents and homicides implicitly ask a moral question, he said. He uses the hypothetical of a pregnant woman killed by a drunk driver on her way to get an abortion. "The drunk driver can be legally charged with the death of an infant she was on her way to have legally killed. Think about it."
And lawsuits such as Jane Roe vs. Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati have alleged that abortion clinics deliberately fail to report statutory rapes while providing abortions to underage girls. "There is no way to practice vice virtuously,'' Pavone says.
The Supreme Court said the ban's "stated purposes are protecting innocent human life from a brutal and inhumane procedure," and "the State has an interest in promoting respect for human life at all stages in the pregnancy."
This is a Cincinnati story. The ban upheld by the Supreme Court was sponsored by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati. Right to Life was founded here by Dr. John Willke and his wife, Barbara. A Cincinnati abortion doctor devised the barbaric method that is now outlawed.
It's also a story of life and death.
"Baby Samuel" is now a healthy six-year-old. Thousands just like him reached out for life. Instead, they were butchered by partial birth abortions.
The court decision to end that came the same week the media wallpapered our living rooms with photos of a mass murder. Ironically, the touching photo of Baby Samuel was not allowed on TV in 1999.