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June 2013

“War is hell,” General William Tecumseh Sherman told a class of military graduates in 1879.  Sherman knew all about hell.  In 1864, he gave orders to Atlanta’s city leaders: evacuate the city with all haste.  Soon afterwards, Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground.  The Union army was on the move.  War would wait for no one, not even a countryman.

War can bring out the worst in man. In March 1968, the men of Charlie Company, 11th Brigade, Americal Division, entered a Vietnamese village on a search-and-destroy mission. Charlie had already suffered heavy casualties from land mines and Vietcong snipers.  Soldiers arrived at My Lai agitated and ready for a fight.  They took out their rage on unarmed civilians.  Soldiers bayoneted old men.  They shot praying women and children in the back of the head.  A soldier raped and then killed a girl.  Charlie’s leader reportedly ordered victims into a ditch and mowed them down by machine gun fire.  In November 1969, a reporter broke the story.  Media coverage was virtually nonstop as reporters carried the truth to a shocked American public.  The leader was convicted of murder.  Americans became increasingly skeptical of the war.

Not all atrocities are committed during war. As detailed in a lengthy grand jury report, on February 2010, investigators raided the Women’s Medical Center in Philadelphia, PA, where owner Dr. Kermit Gosnell performed abortions.  Suspecting illegal drug use, investigators found far worse. There was blood on the floor and the stench of urine in the air.  A flea-infested cat roamed the premises; cat feces littered the stairs.  Semi-conscious, moaning women in waiting and recovery rooms sat on bloodstained blankets and equipment.  The parts of dismembered babies were stored in bags, milk and orange juice cartons, even cat-foot containers.  Gosnell kept a row of bottles of severed feet.  Forty-five intact babies, some well beyond Pennsylvania’s 24-week limit for legal abortion, were found in a freezer and elsewhere.  The center became known as the “house of horrors.”

Prosecutors charged Gosnell with multiple counts of first-degree murder, and for about eight weeks this spring he stood trial.  It grew turned grislier by the day.  Staff members testified that Gosnell delivered babies alive and then snipped the backs of their necks with a scissors and severed their spines.  Gosnell quipped to a worker that one baby was so big he could have “walked to the bus stop.” Babies were heard to scream and seen to jump when killed. A baby delivered into a toilet tried to swim.  A worker testified that over 100 born-alive babies died by “literally a beheading.” There were so many abortions that “it would rain fetuses.”  The worker described himself as a “fireman in hell.” Another witness, a former janitor, testified that the toilets repeatedly backed up, forcing him to clear the clean-out pipe. Body parts would spill out.  He placed them in bags and left them in the rat-infested basement.

Gosnell was also charged with third-degree murder in the death of 41-year old Bhutan refugee Karnamaya Mongar, who died from a drug cocktail.  No one monitored her condition.  Women were drugged into stupors before the procedures.  Gosnell’s staff held down those who resisted.  On May 13, Gosnell was convicted on three counts of murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter, and other charges.  He waived an appeal to avoid the death penalty.

Yet few Americans heard about Gosnell or the trial. The media, an group generally operating on the principle that “if it bleeds, it leads,” stayed away from the trial in droves.  Politicians who usually excel at public expressions of shock and outrage were mum.  When asked to comment on the Gosnell trial, President Obama declined.  As for the abortion industry, its leaders kept quiet as long as possible.  Why the silence?

It is because the trial exposed in blazing color the truth about legal abortion, a truth that the media, politicians, and the abortion industry have buried for the last 40 years.  Abortion is not about freedom for women.  It is about money, votes, and power.  Karnamaya Mongar is not free.  She is dead.  So are untold other women fed the lie about freedom of choice.  Abortion cannot be made safe because it is intended to kill.  It is death or misery just waiting to happen to unsuspecting women.  It happens all too often to poor and uneducated women of color, women who predominated Gosnell’s house of horrors.  Legal abortion is the real “war on women” that no one was willing to acknowledge.

The trial also exposed those who labor in the killing field. Gosnell’s staff included a   “doctor” with no license, a teenager who administered drugs, and mentally ill workers desperate for money.  Worse still is how abortion affects those who perform it.  A worker called the babies “specimens” because “it was easier to deal with mentally.” And there comes a point that the killing becomes routine.  Gosnell was unfazed by severing a living baby’s spine.  Texas abortionist Douglas Karpen kills by “twisting the head off the neck of babies.”  Legal abortion has created a cadre of hit men who coolly kill for cold cash.

In the end, the trial exposed the hypocrisy of our culture’s approval of abortion.  We have defined the difference between humanity and inhumanity in terms of inches, not the inherent dignity of God’s greatest creations.  We rightly file murder charges when babies are killed outside the womb, but wrongly call it “freedom” when they are killed inside the womb. Whether we sever the spines of big babies in the light of day or draw and quarter the bodies of little ones in the darkness of the womb, the savagery is all the same.  So for politicians pandering for votes and abortion providers thirsting for money, it is essential that they keep quiet.  And take advantage of a media more than willing to hide the truth.

The Gosnell’s house of horrors exposed the house of cards that is legal abortion.  Like any other house of cards, this one is destined to fall.  May we be the ones who knock it over.

Paul Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois, and have six kids.

©  2013 Paul V. Esposito.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Comments?  Visit us at

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