A simple thought can be so profound. “Only God can make a tree.” Poet Joyce Kilmer’s words speak of both God’s majesty and our limitations. God can do it all; we can only do so much. Yet God did not leave man lacking in the creativity department. We have not yet reached the ends of our abilities to design and create. For proof, we only need to look at the world of architecture.
It is an incredible world to behold. The old style boxed-shaped building designs have often given way to styles that transform architecture into stunning art. Buildings weighing billions of pounds can seem suspended in ways that should never work. Architects now design structures that incorporate environments in ways not previously imagined. Buildings are being designed to resemble foods or companies’ products. Some businesses are even designing their structures to reflect corporate values. Uber Technologies has created a design that seeks to model its value of transparency.
Perhaps without realizing it, abortion giant Planned Parenthood has done the same. The front entryway of one of its sites in the San Diego area is shaped like a gigantic wastebasket, the kind often found under an office desk. How appropriate, for Planned Parenthood is in the business of trashing human life. During its 2013-14 year, Planned Parenthood killed 327,653 unborn babies, a staggering number that translates into almost 900 dead every day of the year — including Christmas and Easter. No wonder the wastebasket is so big.
Planned Parenthood is not the only abortion provider out there. In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, abortion clinics not affiliated with hospitals began to appear throughout the country. At their highpoint in 1991, there were 2,176 clinics nationwide. And whatever the design of their buildings, their mission has been always the same: killing for profit. Though they are often called “clinics” the term is a misnomer, for they do not preserve life. They take it. They are more accurately called “mills” grinding out a single product: a dead baby.
In Roe, the Supreme Court upheld the states’ right to regulate abortion facilities in the best interest of a mother’s safety. That was a no-brainer, for the states have routinely imposed licensing and inspection requirements on all sorts of business, from restaurants, hair styling establishments, tattoo and tanning parlors, and even veterinary clinics. But when it comes to abortion mills, the states have largely taken a hands-off attitude. Minnesota refuses to regulate them. Some states providing safety regulation do nothing to enforce them. Other states have been extremely lax in enforcing regulations against abortion providers. In Illinois, a study shows that on average, abortion facilities go for nine years without inspection. By contrast, tanning salons are inspected annually. About 54% of Illinois abortion clinics were not licensed and so went uninspected. No Planned Parenthood shop in Illinois was licensed. By no means is the problem is limited to Illinois.
Neither is the consequence. A few years ago, the nation was stunned by revelations of Herman Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” where dead babies were bagged in freezers and drugged women were abandoned in filthy rooms. At a Planned Parenthood shop in Delaware, two nurses — both pro-choice — quit because of the unsanitary conditions. Norma McCorvey, the woman behind Roe, said that she worked where babies were “stacked like cordwood,” sinks were backed-up from body parts, floors were contaminated, and rat droppings could be found. An investigator in Kansas found roaches on a countertop and dried blood on a floor. At a Planned Parenthood shop in Chicago, a 24-year old woman died after an abortionist bungled an abortion and did not call 911 for five hours. Still, abortion providers fight restrictions tooth and nail.
The good news is that they are losing the fight. At the start of this year, there were 739 abortion facilities in the country. The drop in the last few years has been dramatic. Experts attribute the reduction to increased enactment and enforcement of safety laws, increased reporting by pro-life groups of incompetence and abuse, and the financial struggles and retirements of abortionists who are not being replaced by younger doctors.
There is another reason: the power of prayer. Today there is one less mill to take the lives of unborn babies and maim their mothers: the one in Hinsdale, Illinois. Two women who couldn’t stomach the thought rose in protest, a peaceful protest of prayer. They recruited others to join them, and week after week for 15 straight years, they have prayed and offered sidewalk counseling. Until the business sign comes down, the prayers will continue.
Prayer starts at 5:30 on Saturday mornings, an ungodly hour matching the ungodly acts inside. People of all ages and occupations stand on the sidewalk, armed with nothing more than rosaries. They get soaked by rain, covered by snow, and frozen to the bone. But nothing deters them from their holy hour. Standing on the sidewalk, they have witnessed to life at life’s most desperate and sometimes most callous moments. They have watched crying woman enter the mill flanked by “security escorts” making sure that no one touches the women’s hearts. They have seen women enter as if it is no big deal — at least for now. Outside the mill, some onlookers offer a thumbs-up; others offer a middle finger. Through it all, the prayers never stop.
For almost the last four years, I have been part of the effort. My deepest regret is that I was not there sooner. For though we rejoice in the success, the success is not what matters. Witnessing is an act of faith. And it is an act of trust in the One Who controls everything.
One more down, but lots to go. The cause can always use another witness.
Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes about pro-life. He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.