Gosnell convicted, Castro charged: murder of babies

Mother’s Day just passed with fair weather and loving celebrations in much of the country. But it was surrounded by a perfect storm.

I was already saying that about the five week trial of notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell and the grisly details of his ‘house of horrors’ revealed in the grand jury report, along with the Live Action undercover videos of other abortion clinics doing late-term abortions, together with the president’s untimely and ill-advised address embracing Planned Parenthood and pledging his fidelity to the abortion giant.

But that was before the three young women held captive for a decade were discovered and rescued, and the horrific details of their captivity became known. So while the Gosnell jury was in the second week of deliberation over such inhumane treatment of women and their babies, the facts about Cleveland abductor/captor Ariel Castro and his own house of horrors started coming out and we learned about his inhumane treatment of young women and the babies they conceived by him, and it was all more than any civilized person could get their mind around.

Which pushed the idea of brutality against innocent human life to the front of our minds and the front page of the news. It’s about time. And especially timely in the week leading up to the celebration of Motherhood.

The CNN report that Ariel Castro repeatedly punched one of his pregnant victims in the stomach to force the miscarriage of an ‘aborted fetus’, and that this happened over several different pregnancies, was breathtakingly shocking. That it would lead to murder charges was jaw-dropping. Such a charge meant the declaration, much less recognition, that  ‘terminating a fetus’ is murder. Even though it hinged on the will of the mother, or maybe especially so. Because it focused the attention on what it means to end a human life, and it was a watershed moment.

As we awaited the jury’s verdict in the Gosnell trial, the newly incarcerated Castro faced aggravated murder charges for terminating pregnancies.

Based on the facts of the case, authorities said they intend to seek charges not only for the sexual assaults endured by the victims, but also “each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies.”

That alone is a startling statement. Think about what “each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies” means.

We were already thinking about the idea of murdering babies in the Gosnell trial before this news broke. Monday, the Gosnell trial jury returned their verdict.  Guilty, of murdering babies.

A 72-year-old doctor whose abortion clinic was described by prosecutors as a “house of horrors” was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell was acquitted of killing a fourth baby during a late-term abortion in a dirty clinic that served mostly low-income women and teens, and went years without a state inspection.

There’s a saga contained within those two sentences. The horribly filthy clinic required that the grand jury visiting it prior to the trial wear Hazmat suits. How was it not shut down by authorities a long time ago? Because a long time ago state authorities stopped inspecting it, a nationwide problem with abortion clinics. And note that this ‘house of horrors’ served mostly low-income women, minorities and minors. It was far worse than despicable.

Prosecutors said Gosnell delivered the babies alive and killed them by cutting their spines with scissors.

He was also convicted of manslaughter for the death of one of the women who suffered terribly at the hands of this abortionist.

The verdict does not satisfy all critics. Some time before the decision was announced, Pastor Luke Robinson, who was keynote speaker at the 2012 March for Life, told The Washington Times, “The whole health department of Pennsylvania should be on trial for allowing these atrocities.”

Law enforcement officials raided Gosnell’s abortion business in 2010, believing he merely ran a “pill mill,” dispensing prescriptions for narcotics to make a quick buck. What they found shocked and nauseated them.

Inside his “house or horrors,”…they found unsanitized equipment that transmitted STDs between patients, urine- and blood-soaked recliners for post-abortion “recovery,” and dismembered fetal body parts…

The violations filled a 250-page Grand Jury Report.

During his closing argument, Cameron dramatically asked Gosnell, “Are you human?”

The atrocities unfolded with the tacit permission of numerous levels of authority in the government, as well as within the health care and abortion industries.

It has caused some prominent or high-profile ‘pro-choice’ advocates to reconsider their beliefs, starting from their very premise, and the idea of what abortion is.

And then there are entrenched abortion defenders, as this CNN piece reveals. They admit the Gosnell case is terrible…

But that doesn’t mean it sets a precedent, CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said.

“The testimony in this case was so graphic and so horrific. It was described literally as a house of horrors taking place in this Philadelphia clinic,” Callan said. “So I think that most objective observers will say that ultimately this will be an isolated case, hopefully, and that it’s simply a case where prosecutors had to act. It had nothing to do with being pro- or anti-abortion.”

Yes, it did. And no, it wasn’t an isolated case. The two are related, as the recent Live Action undercover videos from several abortion clinics reveal. Gosnell was no aberration.

We have arrived at a point where we’re not only reconsidering the reality and terminology of abortion, but the realities of human life itself. And the importance of maternity to a woman’s identity.

Some mothers have become used to apologizing for “just” being stay-at-home moms. At social gatherings, a woman can be introduced as a mother only to receive the stunningly obtuse follow-up question, “Do you work?”

Women representing different strands of feminist thought, including those who distance themselves from any type of feminism, struggle with this tension. I had a unique experience of this several years ago, attending a conference on maternal feminism at Barnard College in New York. Participants were challenged to see if they could agree that, for many women, maternity is a defining part of their identity.

We are at a defining moment. The civil rights movement has extended into today’s pro-life movement and it just gained more ground by fate or providence than it could have by addresses and marches and witnesses, as much as they have continued to advance the cause of human life and dignity. That it happened by horrible high profile crimes against humanity was astonishing and unforeseen. But not unimaginable after forty years of experiencing the logic of abortion carried out, and what it really was all along.

Motherhood

There may be a force on earth as powerful as the love of a mother. But I doubt it.

You may say it’s the force of love itself, and I’ll give you no quarrel with the power of love. But there’s something universal, timeless, transcendental and inscrutable about Mother love that cranks it up to a high notch.

Scientists do research on the value of a loving, nurting mother and filmmakers do movies about the indomitable power of that love. But the day to day reality of it is beyond reach and grasp.

She’ll do anything for you. The greater your need the more she will try to move the heavens and the earth to answer or eliminate it. If you have an ailment or illness or any sort of pain, she will beg God to give it to her instead, to let her take it from you, but because that’s not how God works she will suffer with you and with an exquisite pain that pierces the heart and tries the soul like iron in the fire.

She may be silent and she may be profusely wordy but she searches for her own way to express what you need to hear. Or what she struggles to understand as your need to hear and her best expression to say, and it’s never right, or good, or good enough.

My friend and radio show guest Dr. Meg Meeker taps into this better than anyone, professionally and personally and poignantly. So this year she presents a Mother’s Day Challenge.

First, write down all of the things that you feel that you should be. You know, like: nicer, more patient, more assertive, less assertive, etc. We all have our own lists. Then, write down all of the things that you should do. Cook better meals, make more money, clean your house more frequently, spend more “quality time” with your kids. Having trouble coming up with your lists? You’re not being honest. Think about the “other woman” who lives in your heads and talks to you every day. You remember her- she’s the version of the mother that you should be. The perfect you, as a mom. Put her down on paper. Really let it out. Write down what she tells you that you should be doing, where you should be going, how much exercise you should be getting (mine’s telling me I should go to the gym as soon as I’m done) and how your kids would be behaving if you were more like her. Now you’re getting it. Spend some time thinking about her. What does she look like, what does she sound like? She speaks so much more nicely than you do- because she never raises her voice.

After you have done this exercise, carefully read over what you have written. I know, your kids should be in a higher reading group. Your daughter would be dancing four times per week if you had the money. Maybe you need a better job to pay for those lessons. That’s what she would do. Read the list over and over and add to it over the next couple of days.

Now- here comes the good part. Drag your pen to the bottom of the page and start scratching things off of the list. Tell her to shrink. You don’t need her in your head. She’s fictitious. She never will exist because she doesn’t need to. Here’s the best news of all: your kids don’t like her and they don’t want her as their Mom. They want you.

Replace the lists you have made with reality, Your kids want you. They want to be with you, laugh with you and do errands with you. They don’t need to be in a higher reading group, dance more, have a nicer bedroom or a cleaner house. And- they don’t really care that much about your cooking. They don’t care whether you buy brownies at the store, make them from a box or even make them from scratch. Those are YOUR issues. They just want to eat the brownie with you.

This Mother’s Day, I want to eat brownies and cookies, have tea or coffee or a toast, with my mother in gratitude for who she is. And with my sons for who they are. What inexpressible gifts.

The Second Vatican Council fathers understood this.

Wives, mothers of families, the first educators of the human race in the intimacy of the family circle, pass on to your sons and your daughters the traditions of your fathers at the same time that you prepare them for an unsearchable future. Always remember that by her children a mother belongs to that future which perhaps she will not see.

But for which she will be watchful and forever grateful.

New-fashioned Motherhood

So we’re coming full circle, after all the decades of enlightenment and empowerment by the feminist movement. The merits of staying home to raise children well are becoming a newly re-discovered….mother lode for women and families.

Someone had to do it, and the natural was Rachel Campos-Duffy. She has written a book about it, and the title is as delightfully simple as is the concept: Stay Home, Stay Happy: 10 Secrets to Loving At-Home Motherhood. Kathryn Jean Lopez draws her out….which is about as hard as saying “Go.”

The author is looking to preserve that which many prominent women — and men — ran away from for all too long, and have paid a price for losing. And she is living, breathing credibility: a young, Catholic, Hispanic mother of six. Who — for a pop-culture reality check — was once on MTV’s The Real World (she and her husband met at a Real World reunion, as it happens) and was almost a co-host of The View (she has been a guest co-host). And she may also be spending time in Washington come January, when her husband, Sean, hopes to be sworn in to the seat of Rep. David Obey, an appropriations powerhouse who has been in office since 1969 (longer than Duffy has been alive).

What’s going on here?

RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY: I was a finalist for co-host of ABC’s The View twice.

(She should have won the spot two times ago.)

The second time I narrowly lost out in the competition, it occurred to me that I was already doing what God was calling me to do — being home, taking care of my kids. Before that, I sort of thought I was “between gigs,” waiting for my next big break. My oldest was five at that time, and I was starting to see the fruits of my time at home with them — their manners and sense of compassion, the things that happen when you parent well. As I began to appreciate what I was doing as a mom, I simultaneously became aware of how little the culture values it. 

So, unlike the majority of us who say ‘someone ought to do something’….she did something. Her book is full of common sense. But since it’s not so common anymore, it’s refreshing. Like this part…

They really aren’t secrets. They are ideas and techniques for enjoying motherhood that have worked for me. They aren’t complicated. The real secret is internalizing the fact that we all need to constantly recommit, sometimes daily (even hourly!), to whatever principles or techniques make our daily lives more enjoyable and joyful. It’s very easy as moms to get caught up in to-do lists and forget to indulge in our child’s particular laugh or smile.

This is a reminder of simple pleasures, of finding joy in everyday stuff (no matter whether that sounds corny) and especially if it seems mundane.

How did this young woman whose star was rising in Hollywood wind up in Wisconsin, with six children, and so darned happy?

I have MTV to thank for that. Only on The Real World would a conservative Latina from Arizona meet an Irish-American lumberjack attorney from rural Wisconsin. We fell in love and married while I was auditioning for The View. The deal we made was if I got the job, we’d move to New York City. If I didn’t, I would move to Hayward, Wisconsin, his hometown. I didn’t get the job, and I moved from Beverly Hills to rural Wisconsin. I have fallen in love with the people of Wisconsin for the same reasons I fell in love with Sean. They are kind, unassuming, good-natured, and honest. In a nutshell — so not L.A. There is truly no better place to raise kids. As for Wal-Mart, well, I’m not above admitting that most of my date nights with Sean end with a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up diapers and anything else I need.

Which begs the question….what else do we need?