As you can read here, I’ve been following the horrific tale of “Dr.” Kermit Gosnell, the alleged Butcher of Philadelphia, ever since the story broke last year. In fact, in the guise of my crazy-lefty character, David Kahane, I wrote a big piece, “The Charnel House of Blackmun,” about it shortly after the grand jury issued its stomach-turning report on this latter-day Mengele‘s crimes. An excerpt:
For us, a day without an abortion somewhere in this great land is like a day without a sermon on climate change: The world is a drab and bitter place, in which the cheery hosannas of the unborn dead cannot be heard, praising the glory of a Gaian world they will never pollute with their presence. Forget that Baudelaire dude and the gimp, Verbal Kint: The Master’s greatest trick was not convincing the world he didn’t exist, but persuading women that it was morally affirmative to murder their own children. Medea, take a bow!
Now, you may quibble that Medea killed children who were, you know, actually ambulatory, but to us and Peter Singer, that is a small matter, a mere detail, a bagatelle of a bump in the road on our way to a more perfect nihilism. Which is why I’m here to celebrate a great American named Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., a man who was standing up to the forces of bigotry and intolerance and unreasoning pedophobia by providing abortion services at his Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia — until, unaccountably, the state of Pennsylvania arrested him…
Well, one man’s “baby charnel house” is another man’s monument to the House that Blackmun Built, and surely reasonable men and women of good conscience can agree to disagree, even if Roe is long-since settled law and if you troglodytes so much as try to touch one hair of its sacred little head, we’re coming after you with scissors, suction, a pair of pliers, and a blowtorch… Once you accept the proposition of abortion pretty much on demand, including post-“birth,” this seems to us a distinction without a difference, but there’s no accounting for the lengths to which you Christianist Javerts will go in order to hunt down innocent women’s-health specialists.
While it’s true that the alleged details of Dr. Gosnell’s practice can make you squeamish right-wingers uncomfortable, our brave women are made of sterner stuff. They know the parasitic clumps of cells in their wombs — punishment-by-“baby” for the simple, innocent, joyous act of sexual intercourse — are being eliminated for a higher, nobler cause than mere Christianity. We progressives don’t believe in the afterlife, unless we’re trying to fake some sort of “faith” on television, but we do believe in, shall we say, an eternally resonating resonance that proclaims to the universe: We were here. We lived. We killed. Mission accomplished.
The Mainstream Media, though — until being shamed into it by Kirsten Powers last week in USA Today — has given the case scant attention and next to no coverage. An ever-shifting series of completely unconvincing excuses has been given, including “we don’t cover local crime stories”; that’s rich coming from the same gang that made the death of Trayvon Martin into national news for months on end.
We all know the reason why the Martin story was news: at first glance, it appeared to be that relative rarity, a white-on-black killing, thus presenting the media with what Tom Wolfe so aptly characterized in The Bonfire of the Vanities as a Great White Defendant – until it was discovered that the alleged killer, George Zimmerman, was half Hispanic. No matter; the New York Times, which is in the grips of an obsession with racial and sexual taxonomy that would do the National Socialist German Workers Party proud, promptly dubbed him a “white Hispanic” and went on their merry way with The Narrative, in which an oppressive White Power Structure visits all manner of evil on the Noble Underclasses.
The story of Kermit Gosnell and his “Women’s Medical Society” is the precise opposite of The Narrative. It features a black villain, who may turn out to be the worst mass murderer in American history. It blows away the smokescreen that abortion has anything to do with “women’s health,” and reveals it for the barbaric, immoral, and murderous practice it, in fact, is. It forces American society to stare at a truth we’ve all known, deep down at our moral core — that a baby in the womb is a human being, not a clump of cells or a malignant parasite. And it’s about time.
Perhaps Elizabeth Scalia, blogging as The Anchoress, is right when she writes of the dawning realization, thanks to God’s grace, that the Gosnell trial reveals something fundamentally rotten in the souls of the American elites:
I see not a glass half-empty, but one half-full and filling. Perhaps I am only an optimist, and a naive one, but I feel like this is a break in the tide; a moment that can perhaps turn America from its myriad and mostly empty distractions, and get her asking important questions about who we are, what we have been enabling, who we want to be and what serving “the least among us” really means.
Coming, as it does, during a honeymoon phase of a popular new pope who embodies the idea of Godly tenderness and forcefully demonstrates his awareness that poverty, marginalization and “least-ness” comes in many forms, this almost seems like a moment handed to us by God.
I guess God’s been shelling peanuts for the past 40 years, but better late than never. A relict of the early 1970s, just as the Sexual Revolution had gone mainstream but while family structures were still largely intact and the legitimate birth rates had not yet taken a plunge, the spectacularly muddled Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision is an object lesson in the Consequences of No Consequences, an inferno of cultural side effects that finally belched up the underlying moral question — when, if ever, is it permissible to take an innocent life? — and propelled it toward its logical and ineluctable final resting place: the abattoir.
But, you cry, abortion is supposed to be “safe, legal and rare.” And late-term abortions — let’s call them by their real name, “partial-birth abortions,” i.e. infanticide — are supposed to be illegal except in dire necessity to save the mother’s life. Yeah, right: once you’ve established the principle some fetal life is worthless, then it’s easy to say (to quote Hillary Clinton on Benghazi) “what difference, at this point, does it make?”
Let’s take a closer look at that “women’s health” shibboleth, one of the things the murderous Left hides behind in its effort to sanitize the ugly truth of what it’s doing behind closed doors. From the grand jury report:
The “Women’s Medical Society.” That was the impressive-sounding name of the clinic operated in West Philadelphia, at 38th and Lancaster, by Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D. Gosnell seemed impressive as well. A child of the neighborhood, Gosnell spent almost four decades running this clinic, giving back – so it appeared – to the community in which he continued to live and work.
But the truth was something very different, and evident to anyone who stepped inside. The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.
But what else could it be? David Harsanyi makes a good point.
If you’re the kind of guy whose idea of a “botched” medical procedure involves someone surviving, well, perhaps being charged with murder is a distinction without much of a difference. What distinguishes a late-term abortionist from an abortionist who uses scissors to sever the spinal cords of babies born alive is little more than a matter of tools and technique. The results, and the facts, are the same.
And all this was done, mind you, with the complete if tacit approval of the Pennsylvania authorities, who feared what they might find there and so failed to exercise even rudimentary regulatory control over the Charnel House of Harry Blackmun, the weak-minded Supreme Court justice who traveled from right to left, thus growing in office, and who gave us Roe. Naturally, Blackmun attended Harvard Law, which gave him this sendoff in 1999.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun ’32 died March 4 at age 90. Appointed to the Court in 1970 by President Nixon, he retired in 1994 after a 24-year career on the Court marked by a movement from moderate conservatism to outspoken liberalism. A 1932 graduate of HLS, Justice Blackmun returned to the School on many occasions, for the Centennial Celebration, to receive the HLSA Award, to deliver the Class Day speech, and to speak to students at HLS’s Saturday School.
Numerous Harvard Law School graduates had the honor of clerking for the Justice. Among them is Penda Hair ’78 – founding principal and codirector of The Advancement Project, a public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles – who served as a Blackmun clerk for the 1979-80 term. The Bulletin asked Hair to comment on the Justice’s legacy.
Justice Harry A. Blackmun will go down in history as the author of Roe v. Wade, but his contribution is much greater than that one seminal decision. Justice Blackmun’s life on and off the Court reflects a deep passion for protecting the disadvantaged and oppressed. Two hallmarks of his work are compassion for the real people involved in constitutional disputes and his eloquence of expression.
If that’s what Harvard calls “protecting the disadvantaged and oppressed” — and, by the way, does everybody from Harvard toss around Marxist jargon like a 1950s Pravda editorial writer? — then no wonder we’re in such trouble. Thanks, Harry, for making Gosnell possible, and rest assured that the evil you did in your lifetime lives on — and keeps killing.
My friend and PJ colleague Roger Simon puts his finger on just what it is that makes the Gosnell story so touchy to the left:
The trial of Dr. Gosnell is a potential time bomb exploding in the conventional liberal narrative on abortion itself. This is about the A-word.
No feeling human being can read this story or watch it on TV without being confronted with the obvious conclusion — like it or not — that abortion is murder.
It may be murder with extenuating circumstances (rape, survival of the mother, etc.) but it is murder nonetheless. Dr. Gosnell — monster though he is — has accidentally shoved that uncomfortable truth in our faces.
Pushing this case front and center in the media would change the national narrative on this subject.
And so, perhaps, it has. The left is right to fear that a Gosnell conviction — almost certain, given the evidence — really is the slippery slope toward rolling back Roe, and that once the American people fully understand the horror Blackmun unleashed, they will recoil like Alec Guinness at the end of The Bridge On the River Kwai, and exclaim, “What have I done?” They know, far better than we, that once they lose The Narrative, they’ve lost everything.
How, in the name of a putative and anodyne “right to choose,” did we move from a country that prized the sanctity of life to a degenerate, bloodthirsty society that literally strangles its own children? A more profound act of self-loathing disguised as “reproductive justice” can hardly be imagined; it’s Satanic, really.
There’s something in journalism that’s come to be known as “Godwin’s Law,” which posits: ”As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.” Obviously, I’ve violated it, and deliberately so, because the point of comparison is identical: an affectless unwillingness to treat every human being as fully human, and instead to sacrifice them for a higher cause. When morality is untethered from religion, and tied instead to culture/Kultur, savagery results.
And yet for many on the left, abortion remains the greatest of the secular sacraments, murder as a positive good. I’ve met many young women in our business who tell me that they don’t mind my conservative politics, that much, but the one thing that they absolutely cannot compromise on, or even discuss, is Roe v. Wade. How the maternal instinct was extirpated in a generation or two of women is something for behavioral scientists and theologians to debate; the modern left’s transformation into a suicide cult will give historians and artists grist for decades to come.
We don’t know where it began, although Roe is certainly a good place to start. But we do know where it ends, by whichever name we choose to call the place: