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Secondhand Smoke

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March 2011

How time flies.  It’s been almost 30 years since my cousin John died. Hell on wheels as a kid, Johnny became one of the sweetest guys around. He kept himself in great shape; he was an avid runner.  But by age 31, he was dead from lung cancer.  Johnny never smoked. His parents did, like chimneys.

Secondhand smoke, the mixture of smoke from burning tobacco and a smoker’s exhale, contains 7,000 chemicals.  Of them, 250 are harmful and at least 69 cause cancer.   Living with a smoker increase the chances of cancer and heart disease by 20-30%.  Annually, about 3,400 nonsmokers in the U.S. die from cancer and another 46,000 from heart disease. Children are at increased risk for SIDS, ear infections, colds, bronchitis pneumonia, and severe asthma. As the smoke cloud grows, so does the destruction.

There is another kind of secondhand smoke. When King David took Uriah’s wife Bathsheba, she became pregnant with his child. Needing Uriah dead, David ordered him to the front of a fierce battle where he was killed. David then took Bathsheba as his wife. More death followed, but in David’s own house.  Years later, there was Herod.  His pride so overwhelmed him that he could not bear the thought of a rival.  To ensure that he had none, he wiped out Bethlehem’s innocents.  Evil begets evil. Sin begets sin.

Last year, federal and Pennsylvania authorities raided a West Philadelphia clinic run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  They expected to find illegal drug activity.  But as recently detailed by a grand jury, they found a horror house filled with animal feces, bloodstained blankets and furniture, unsterilized instruments, and broken equipment. Moaning semi-conscious women were lying in waiting and recovery rooms.  Bags and boxes of unborn babies were scattered throughout the clinic.  One shelf contained bottles of severed feet.

Gosnell and his unlicensed staff performed abortions on babies far later than allowed by Pennsylvania law. Gosnell joked about aborting a baby so big that he could “walk me to the bus stop.” He did the “really big ones” on Sundays, when no one else was present.  Rather than just partially delivering a late-term baby, he would completely deliver the newborn, and then cut the child’s spinal cord with scissors. He probably killed “hundreds” of babies that way. A woman who changed her mind was tied down; women who screamed were drugged into a stupor.  He botched numerous abortions, leaving bleeding and butchered women to fend for themselves.  One woman died at his hand.

All of this could have been prevented. State health officials inspected his clinic only once during its first ten years. In 1993, the state stopped checking abortion clinics to avoid “putting up a barrier to women” seeking abortions. When complaints came about Gosnell’s illegal later-term abortions, the transmission of venereal disease from his clinic, and even a wrongful death, the state did nothing.  State medical licensing officials were handed evidence about Gosnell yet ignored it.   A local hospital treating the women whom he injured only once complied with its legal duty to report the problems.  And when Gosnell sought certification from the National Abortion Federation, its inspector saw the substandard conditions but failed to report him.

Then there is Planned Parenthood, which claims to be “America’s most trusted provider of reproductive health care.” In taped stings, student-led Live Action members posing as pimps and prostitutes spoke to PP staffers about testing and birth control for underage sex slaves.  Both sex trafficking and aiding and abetting it are federal crimes.  In New Jersey, a PP staffer told them to lie about the slaves’ ages and student status: “[W]e want it to look as legit as possible.”  Asked what the minors could do while recovering from abortions, the staffer responded: “Waist up, or just be that extra action walking by.”  In Virginia, PP told a Live Action couple how to avoid judicial bypass rules meant to protect minors.  It didn’t get better for PP in New York City and D.C.

We should be outraged but not surprised by these events.  They are the secondhand smoke of abortion. If we can legally kill an unborn baby, there is no floor to what we can do.  Ironically, Gosnell has exposed the charade of partial-birth abortion.  As he showed, it doesn’t matter if a baby’s head is in or out of a mother’s birth canal.  Abortion is about killing, not location. Sadly, pro-abortion public servants called to be watchdogs allowed it all to happen. As for Planned Parenthood, sex slaves are good business at whatever age.  Sooner or later, they’ll become diseased, pregnant, or both. And PP will be waiting for them. Who are the victims of the spreading smoke cloud?  Butchered women, vulnerable children, and an ever-sinking culture, that’s who. We’re all its victims.

God wrote His Law on our hearts for our protection. It provides the fence that keeps us from falling headfirst off a physical, moral, emotional, and cultural cliff. We have allowed that fence to badly deteriorate.  But we can mend it.  People like Gosnell and his staff should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  And Planned Parenthood should no longer be given an annual $350 million taxpayer gift to accomplish its dirty work.  Bills are pending in Congress to de-fund PP.  Let your voice be heard.

Notice how silent pro-abortion politicians and the mainstream media have been about Gosnell and PP.  For reason after reason, we can’t afford to be.

The smoke is killing us.

Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, where they are raising their six kids.

© Paul V. Esposito 2011.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Comments?  Visit us at

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