Half a week of front page coverage in both the Philadelphia Inquirer (“Gosnell charges shock residents”) and Daily News (“Nightmares: Shame and Pain of Abortion Doc’s Victims”) continues to reveal the tsunami wave of information disclosing the abortion mill in West Philadelphia, run by now murder indicted Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The media implications devolve around the epicenter of horror, namely the abortionist’s careless and unsanitary premises; next the babies killed by him and left in jars; then the feet of babies; the unsterilized instruments that transmitted STDs to stunned patients who are testifying, now that the cat is out of the bag. Listen to one of them, Robyn Reid, who states, “I think Dr. Gosnell is a monster. I think he enjoys it. That was his excitement for that day: ‘I got to tie a girl down.’ He ruined my life.” The waves are starting to crest high and mighty.
Somehow, in the honorable transmitting of the truth the media is doing here - and I applaud them for this - as well as the District Attorney’s office’s exposing the more serious negligence on behalf of the state, and reportedly to a lesser extent the city of Philadelphia, in enforcing the statutes relevant to the abortion center (Women’s Medical Society, Lancaster Ave. ). Much has been faced in this politically charged and morally complicit society where it is estimated that 43% of women by the time they reach 45 have had abortions (Alan Guttmacher Institute). What is being portrayed here in the various articles and media coverage is the horror of something unusual - the unsafe, horrendous exception represented (or perhaps in the mind of many - uniquely envisioned) by Dr. Gosnell. He is labeled a “monster.”
That reminds me of a documentary on Josef Stalin some years back, called “Monster.” Yes, indeed he was. As is Dr. Gosnell, along with a significant note of surprise to the neighbors. Write large, this is the situation across America. Just as Stalin was exposed for what he was, and yet I encourage all to nonetheless pray for his eternal salvation as I do the same for Dr. Gosnell, still alive. Having said and meant that, let’s look at the situation. Stalin for some time in the Soviet Union was seen as a scapegoat, the one who personified the corruption and lies of the socialist regime yet continuing long after Stalin to run the gulags which later, when discovered by the “surprised citizen” of the community, as was the case in the extermination camps earlier set up by the Nazi regime, became the point of attention, the symptom or bad fruit that merited gasped attention. So too with Dr Gosnell, actually a symptom of the much more fundamental disorder underlying his chilling crimes, admittedly extreme, and yes, in themselves abhorrent unsanitary and infanticized-ridden practices. That both are monsters does not get to the reason for the scapegoat in the first place: moral depravity of “Choice-America.” In other words, they may be monsters in their own right, but a Stalin and a Gosnell thrive in killing-tolerant solutions.
In a well-intentioned and goodly expository article by Chelsea Conaboy and Marie McCullough appearing front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, January 21 “West Philadelphia residents shocked at Gosnell case,” we read: “Why and when did Gosnell’s operation allegedly become a house of horrors? Current and former workers who testified before the grand jury painted a picture of a downward spiral that accelerated in recent years.”
What we are talking about here may quintessentially reflect the atmosphere pervading America today. It’s an honest question, whether meant to find out facts, asked musingly, philosophically, medically or otherwise. The answer may be given in routine facts tracing the “downward spiral” day by day; or it may recognize wisely that there is a current that started it, an acceptance of evil that then dictates further abuses to keep it protected. When did it become a house of horrors? When evil took hold of the place. When the perpetrators realized that the state was lax in inspecting or investigating what was starting to surface. And just as the Soviet evil cannot be dumped all on Stalin to get to the heart of the venom of atheistic communism (where a Stalin could flourish more easily), so too it is in the atmosphere of Choice where reject doctors like Gosnell would do his (literally and humanly) dirty work. The proof of this is in the fact that District Attorney Williams, to his great credit, reached out well beyond Gosnell, crucially to criticize the investigative personnel that did not see fit (or did not act) to call the abortionist’s operation into question by more vigilant observations, as mandated by law. Those who now fear the rescinding of Roe v Wade (1973) will open up the “back alley” abortuaries, those “unsafe” for women, need only to see that even with Roe in play, they’ve actually never gone away, nor given proper scrutiny.
Abortion centers are among the most protected “medical” facilities in the country. Politically the whole battle of FACE (Freedom of Abortion Clinic Entrances) was trumped up in congress and passed for the purpose of criminalizing people who interfere with mothers about to abort their children in such places. Stating it this way may draw some ire from readers who disagree with the terms I use. But I would ask: just which terms are unfair or untrue? Aside from the debate on that, it need to be pointed out that there are no similar laws against, say, Humane Society members gathering before places and protesting that animals are cut up; and in this case, unlike similar dismemberment of pre-born infants in abortion mills, the animals are used for consumption or other legally/ morally acceptable means, whereas the babies are thrown away, into trucks bearing “human waste” (clarification: the humans themselves) and dumpsters around the country – some of which I have seen. Though sometimes, by exception, baby parts are being used for documented further research, and big bucks rule behind the scene.
The abortion mill has become the temple of secular America today. No church at least is as protected from abuse by our law enforcement as are the abortuaries where even less egregious Doctor dregs than Gosnell do their killings. Documented, huge lists show those killed do not exclude the mothers who enter those doors to “get rid of their unwanted problem.” Aside from the psychological mayhem following abortions, some moms do not even get that far, not at their own hands, but at the hands of other Gosnells. It’s clearly documented, some don’t walk out. (http://www.prolife.com/DEADWMN.html).
“Why and when did Gosnell’s operation allegedly become a house of horrors?” Already when the US Supreme Court Justices on January 22, 1973, decided it would forge a new so-called “constitutional right” to an abortion, thus pulling a society not quite in sync with the Court to solidify gradually a pro-Choice mantra, “not my right to tell her what to do [even if it means snuffing out the future of a baby]” hardening the mainstream of society well after the Court pronounced on it. Again: a society where 40% of women abort by the time they reach age 45. Now couple that with concurring or instigating men (both are parents, mothers and fathers of children growing in the womb), and the number anchors the abortion “right” as a given. No wonder the temple is so uniquely guarded. Fido and Minerva are safer than baby.
The tsunami that hit Philadelphia and reverberates across the country now understandably has Planned Parenthood, committing the most murders in the country by far - now beyond 300,000 pre-borns killed annually, quite concerned. They will market this tsunami as an aberration, a lone demented Stalin-like, or Frankenstein-like doctor, whose brutal escapades must not be allowed to derail the mainstream message of Choice at all costs (or as Planned Parenthood mocked a couple years back as Christmas greetings: “Choice on Earth”).
So the question remains: “When” did it start?” When a nation born in Biblical spirituality and moral principles dislodged them for the allurement of Choice over lives. Now all can see the debris the tsunami is churning up: legal acceptances, medical winkings, racial targeting and thinning out, a compromised use of words, media silence, academic snuffing of abortion-complicit data, and the horrors through which all these reshaping forces of society have been trying – wittingly or otherwise –to pin down the abortion foundation as “constitutional” or imposed as a blight. The tsunami has struck, and the scapegoat will not be sufficient to clear out the mainstream abortion mess anymore. “Why did it start?” To justify a spurious freedom to get rid of a problem intensified by free sex that after all has its consequences. The solution, of course, is not angrily or squeamishly turning away from the bloody picture of chopped up pre-born babies which the media now describes for all to know about as civility recoils in horror to Dr Gosnell. Nor is it to blame pro-lifers for urging people to face the truth of what an abortion actually is –not just those done in unsanitary conditions, but all of them. And then to work with social, legal, medical, political and educational components of our nation to help those through their temporary difficulties, by care, community help or adoption; and to forgive those who have been lured by the demon of Choice and later cry out trying to forgive themselves. In short, let us work to saving rather than killing lives, and healing rather than condemning the sins of the unfortunate past, while being up front with one’s Creator as a sinner who turns back for an assured embrace of forgiveness.
“I put before you the blessing and the curse” Deuteronomy 30: 19 reminds us. “Choose life that you and your descendents may live!” Never so real, this statement, as today. May the flood waters wash away the cause as well as the symptoms of the scourge of abortion from our land! Fittingly it is Philadelphia where this tidal wave struck. Again it can become the site where its 1776 Declaration crests self-evident once again: “inalienable rights… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” May these core fundamentals also thrive through the mayhem and take root once again that we and our descendents may live.
Fr Denis G Wilde, OSA, PhD
Associate Director. Priests for Life
January 22, 2011