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By Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Stream, October 17, 2018
There’s a scene in the new movie Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer, that should launch candid conversations around the country. Alexis McGuire (played by Sarah Jane Morris), the lead prosecutor in the case against the Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, is depicted at home with her husband, distraught at the reality of the horror she’s had to face in the investigation.
She says: “They were testing this new device to make abortion easier. This ball of blades. They put it inside the woman and the blades rolled open. They cut the girls up bad … You know what happened to Gosnell? Nothing. He hid out in the Bahamas for a while. Came back here. Opened another clinic. And since then, he’s been killing babies … Because nobody wanted to say anything. Nobody wanted to know.”
Now, “killing babies” is a phrase you tend to hear only from the most dedicated pro-life activists. But please consider it. The Gosnell movie shows us the monstrous reality of that clinic and forces us to consider it. The line about nobody wanting to know, it’s true of a lot of us, on a lot of fronts. But let’s consider desperate and poor women who found themselves in Gosnell’s clinic, women who may have wrongly thought they had no other options.
Life After Roe
As Gosnell was hitting theaters, a friend of mine who is a foster and adoptive mother highlighted a video from a father in similar shoes asking: “Are We Ready for the End of Roe v. Wade?” Anthony Kennedy leaving the Supreme Court and Brett Kavanaugh replacing him obviously has made the question of legal abortion a heightened political matter. But instead of falling in line with a politically charged position, as with the Gosnell movie, this could be an opportunity to consider: What could each one of us be doing to actually help a neighbor in need?
In his YouTube video, Ryan O’Hara reflects on the possibilities of life after Roe, and points out there will be “more opportunities, not less, to love and serve families, kids, moms and dads in need. And that’s what I hope the pro-life movement is ready for.” We all should make sure of it, “pro-lifers” and “pro-choicers” alike.
More Love, Not Less
On the day of the Kavanaugh vote, I went to a Saturday morning Mass in lower Manhattan that was being protested. It was part of a monthly Witness to Life gathering that included a prayerful procession to the Planned Parenthood clinic a few blocks away. Seeing the rancor on display was a chilling experience, particularly when I heard the chant “Pro-life is a lie. They don’t care if women die.” At the time, I was standing with the Sisters of Life, a group of nuns whose lives are dedicated to loving and serving women nationwide and in Canada. These women have literally devoted their lives to helping women in their times of greatest need, but the protesters either didn’t know that or didn’t care.
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The fact is, we don’t know basic facts about one another. Maybe we don’t want to know? It’s easier to have a “side.” And yet, don’t we truly want to see women helped? Don’t we really want to make sure children are able to be born into a place of love? Don’t we want more joy for more people, as difficult as life always is? Don’t we want more love, not less?
Gosnell’s example gives us an opportunity to really take a look at not just the laws but the culture around abortion. What is it about it that keeps us from being honest about it, and what more can we do to truly help women and children, before birth and throughout? We’re in this together. It’s long past time to live like it.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.