Scrolling through the online report, I suddenly halted. There had been a few images scattered throughout the 80-some pages I’d read so far, but I wasn’t prepared for that face.
She lay on her back, her head turned to the side and her chin brushing her shoulder. One arm rested gently across her midsection, while dark, damp tendrils curled over her forehead. Her large eyes were closed; her lips were slightly pursed, as if she were pondering something.
Perhaps, I thought, she was wondering why she hadn’t been given a chance to live.
The face that had mesmerized me was that of “baby girl,” a 30-week-old infant murdered by infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. According to the 2011 grand jury report on the now-jailed practitioner, the teen mother of “baby girl” had sought Gosnell’s services four years earlier to end her late-term pregnancy.
The three-day procedure resulted in the teen rushing to a suburban hospital, followed by the county medical examiner performing an autopsy on the deceased baby.
The coroner surmised that heavy doses of labor-inducing drugs could have caused strong contractions that killed the child, who would otherwise have had an excellent chance of survival. He reported Gosnell to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
And that agency, said the grand jury, “took no action” — just as it had done, or rather failed to do, over the decades Gosnell savaged the bodies of women and their unborn children at his filthy clinic in the city’s Powelton section.
The state wasn’t alone in its negligence. Philadelphia officials, area hospitals and several physicians were well aware of Gosnell’s medical incompetence, unsanitary praxis and complete disregard for regulatory compliance.
Not that the authorities actually visited Gosnell’s clinic on any kind of a regular basis. Instead, it was left to the maimed and infected patients, most of whom were impoverished minority women, to tell the sordid story through their wounds: sterility, critical complications, and sometimes death.
Legal complaints filed by survivors’ attorneys failed to move bureaucrats. The grand jury (whose members held a variety of views on abortion) had a straightforward explanation for such stunning inertia: “We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion.”
Only the efforts of diligent narcotics agents, who had been tracking Gosnell for writing thousands of fraudulent pain pill prescriptions, led to a reckoning for the serial killer no one else, fearful of “restricting abortion,” dared confront.
The case’s lead detective, a devout Catholic, recently told me that in looking back on how the investigation unfolded, he believed the Holy Spirit was at work. Scripture itself reminds us that ultimately “there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known” (Lk 12:2).
I pray that final revelation includes whatever God-given dreams were nestled within the stilled heart of “baby girl.”
I pray her voice, silenced on earth before she could even cry, will resound in heaven, along with those of the more than 61 million in this nation slain like her.
I pray somehow the echoes reach those who favor abortion, that the unborn may at last be heard.
And I ask Mr. Biden, Ms. Pelosi, and all who defend the unholy sacrifice of children in the very womb to look closely at “baby girl,” right there on page 85 of the Gosnell grand jury report.
Look at her, and see that this was not a mass of cells, or a political agenda, or an economic expedience, or a “woman’s right to choose.”
This was a human being, made in the image and likeness of God.
She never learned to speak, but even “baby girl” could have told you that.
Gina Christian is a senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com, host of the Inside CatholicPhilly.com podcast and author of the forthcoming book “Stations of the Cross for Sexual Abuse Survivors.” Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Reclaim the dining room table as sacred space, not work space
NEXT: The perils of social and political isolation
Share this story