In America, a land founded on human dignity, we like to tell ourselves that we’re cultured and sensitive; that we’ve left history’s barbarisms in the past. But in little buildings throughout this country, we routinely snip life in the bud. The daily reality of the abortion industry’s violence toward women and their innocent children is easy to ignore.
We convince vulnerable young women that abortion is no big deal by wrapping the lie in a cocoon of euphemisms. Come on in to the clinic, the reasoning goes, and with a little procedure, nothing too serious really, your life will be easier.
And then come courtroom revelations like the news of what occurred in Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion facility. The clinic’s name, the Women’s Medical Society, and the image on the building of a man and woman holding a child by the hands, were the only soothing elements to Gosnell’s house of horrors.
He saw little need for euphemisms. Boastfully and brutally – or so his prosecutors contend – he slaughtered babies, in the womb and just out of it, leaving their butchered corpses in jars and toilets and trash bags.
Gosnell was, in a sense, honest about what he did. He wasted no time packaging his actions in sleek rhetoric about a “woman’s right to choose.” Instead, he allegedly mocked a newborn infant while he or she was swimming for life in a toilet. He laughed about how babies about to die were so full of life they could almost walk out of the clinic.
The prosecution’s case is dramatic stuff. Yet many of the nation’s prestige media have tried to ignore the details of Gosnell’s trial – which under any other circumstances would be swarmed over as sensational. The Washington Post’s health care and abortion reporter deemed the Gosnell trial a matter of “local crime,” not worth covering.
For others, the problem with Gosnell’s operation wasn’t the infanticide committed within its walls. The problem was that women felt forced to go to him, rather than somewhere more aesthetically pleasing, like the abortion mill on Appletree Street, with its friendly window sign giving women a number to call if they need help to quit smoking.
We’re told that Gosnell’s clinic differs from those run by Planned Parenthood. Abortion boosters claim the atrocities at the Women’s Medical Society were a problem of imperfect regulation, as though tweaking some rules and ensuring better inspections might somehow sanitize the violence inherent in killing a developing human life.
But how is a “well-regulated” abortion simply an innocuous medical procedure, while unregulated abortion, stripped of professionalism, is barbaric? Do a few regulations really make one act acceptable and the other subhuman? Hearts are stopped, and necks are severed in both cases.
Dr. Gosnell is on trial for murder, and a jury will decide whether to believe the evidence. Meanwhile other abortionists, more careful, more euphemistic, are praised. The unvarnished brutalities in that building on the corner of Lancaster and 38th reveal abortion as it really is: one of the central, leering barbarisms of our age. What occurred there, tucked away in a forgotten neighborhood, highlights the tragedy of abortion everywhere. It opens the lid on a procedure some would like to call “good.” This is why so many of us would rather hear nothing about Gosnell or his practices.
When we think about abortion, we need to reflect on the sheer inhumanity of what prosecutors described at the Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia, because, whether it’s in West Philly or a more comfortable clinic in the suburbs, the substance of what happens is exactly the same.
Joseph Lindsley is a 2005 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a writer based in Philadelphia.