Murder in Boston and Philadelphia
Callista and I are in London today to attend the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. I will write more about Baroness Thatcher’s extraordinary life and her incomparable legacy in Friday’s newsletter.
But as we celebrate the life of Margaret Thatcher, we mourn the loss of life from Monday’s terror bombings in Boston. Callista and I have in our prayers the families of the murder victims and all those who have been injured. We must be relentless as a nation in finding out who committed this atrocity and ensuring that they receive swift justice.
The bombings in Boston were a barbaric devastation of many innocent lives. Facts are still scarce, but we know that the true loss from these acts will be immeasurable. The lives not lived, the contributions not made, the time not spent, the plans unfulfilled, we will never know. But their loss is real. An eight-year-old boy was among those who died. He had just hugged his father who had completed the race before one of the bombs exploded. Reports indicate that many of the injured have lost limbs, including many children. The cruelty is inhuman.
The killing and maiming at the marathon remind us how fragile human life remains, and brought back a sense of vulnerability that many Americans have not felt for years.
We have watched for several decades as a culture of death has grown both here and abroad. Sometimes the culture of death leads to terrorist attacks upon the innocent. At other times the culture of death creates an entire industry of killing.
The callous acts of murder in Boston share the newspaper columns today with horrible details from the Gosnell murder trial in Philadelphia, where jurors are hearing testimony about the atrocities committed for decades against women and children at the hands of Kermit Gosnell and his staff at the “Women’s Medical Society” abortion clinic in West Philadelphia.
After what can only be described as a self-imposed embargo, the national media is ever so slowly beginning to cover the Gosnell murder trial.
It is amazing that the media has been slow to cover this story.
The Gosnell trial challenges the conscience of our nation – and its media – about abortion perhaps more than any other event since the Supreme Court sanctioned abortion on demand as a constitutional right in its 1973 decision Roe v. Wade.
If you want to know what happens to a society when it decides that some category of lives are not worthy of the protection of the law, read the grand jury report in the Gosnell case. The grand jury testimony indicates that Kermit Gosnell is a mass murderer.
But first, a warning. The descriptions in the report are harrowing, as are the excerpts below. Be prepared.
Here are among the most chilling excerpts from the report:
- [H]e regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.
- Karnamaya Mongar …was a 41-year old, refugee who had recently come to the United States from a resettlement camp in Nepal…She received repeated unmonitored, unrecorded intravenous injections of Demerol, a sedative seldom used in recent years because of its dangers…After several hours, Mrs. Mongar simply stopped breathing.
- 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.
- When you perform late-term “abortions” by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care…Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them…The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that “snipping.” Over the years, there were hundreds of “snippings.”
- Gosnell made little effort to hide his illegal abortion practice. But there were some, “the really big ones,” that even he was afraid to perform in front of others. These abortions were scheduled for Sundays, a day when the clinic was closed and none of the regular employees were present. Only one person was allowed to assist with these special cases – Gosnell’s wife.
- Pennsylvania is not a third-world country. There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago. But none of them did, not even after Karnamaya Mongar’s death. In the end, Gosnell was only caught by accident, when police raided his offices to seize evidence of his illegal prescription selling.
Reading the report is hard. It will make you weep. But I urge you to read it. For I believe if we hope to be a moral nation, America must come to terms with the Gosnell Grand Jury Report and what it means for our laws and for our public life.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania carries a special burden in this regard. As the grand jury report makes painstakingly clear, time after time, local and state officials in Pennsylvania looked the other way when presented with credible information that something was terribly wrong at the Gosnell abortion clinic.
In fact, the largest part of the report is an 82-page section titled “How Did This Go On So Long?” In it, we learn that as far back as December 2001 – a full nine years before the clinic was finally shut down following a FBI raid – the Pennsylvania Department of State received a detailed written complaint about Gosnell’s clinic. But it was to no avail. The Department took no meaningful follow up action. It failed to subpoena records. It also failed to conduct an inspection of the clinic, which would have almost certainly led to its immediate shut down. And when the Department’s investigation about the complaint was finally handed over to prosecuting attorneys two years later, the state attorneys declined to prosecute.
The willful blindness that took place among a number of responsible state officials in Pennsylvania calls to mind a similar pattern of avoidance of responsibility at Penn State that was revealed in the Sandusky sexual abuse trial. In both the Sandusky and Gosnell cases, a decade passed between the time credible complaints first surfaced against these monsters and the time when they were finally held to account.
In the Sandusky case, the Pennsylvania State Board of University Trustees decided that it had a responsibility to compile a full accounting of the failure of Penn State personnel to respond and report to public authorities the sexual abuse of children by Sandusky. It also wanted to know how such abuse could even take place within University facilities or under the auspices of University programs for youth. It therefore established a special investigative task force to investigate. And in turn, the task force engaged former FBI Director Louis Freeh and his law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan to investigate.
It is time for the Governor of Pennsylvania and/or the Pennsylvania legislature to do something similar. There should be a special investigation undertaken by an independent body that addresses the same question raised by the Grand Jury Report: “How Did This Go On So Long in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?”. The citizens of the Commonwealth have a right to know how and why its public officials failed in their duties to protect women and children. The special investigation should also make recommendations to the Pennsylvania legislature.
Louis Freeh and his team did a superb job leading the investigation of Penn State. He is exactly the type of person to lead up such an investigation of what went wrong in Pennsylvania.
The Gosnell trial is about more than Gosnell’s criminal acts, as horrific as they are. And it is about more than abortion, as harmful and deadly as abortion is to women and children. The Gosnell trial is also about whether we as individuals and as a culture will ultimately decide to reject the idea that we can arbitrarily decide without consequence who lives and who dies and instead re-embrace the idea that we will value and affirm every life, born and unborn.
In the wake of the horrific vision of a culture of death that is being revealed in Philadelphia and in Boston, which side will you be on?