We are concerned that there is not more protest, outcry, or activism in regard to these issues of life and death. We can even recognize that there are people who are led to starve children to death because they think they are doing something helpful for society. Lacking an absolute ethical standard, they have only the concept of what they think is beneficial for society to guide them. But we cannot understand why other people, those with a moral base--and we know there are many of them--do not cry out. We are concerned about this because, when the first German aged, infirm and retarded were killed in gas chambers, there was likewise no perceptible outcry from the medical profession or from an apathetic population. It was not far from there to Auschwitz.
I read Whatever Happened to the Human Race over twenty years ago, but I have been reminded of it in the last few days watching the events surrounding the Kermit Gosnell trial. Anyone who has followed this trial at all knows that Gosnell is the 71-year old abortion doctor and proprietor of the "Women's Medical Center" in Philadelphia who is on trial for murder of infants born alive and at least one adult patient. Various workers in the clinics have testified that when infants survived the abortion procedure, Gosnell snipped their spinal cords or in some cases slit their throats. Jack McMahon, Gosnell's attorney, argues that although Gosnell did perform abortions past the 24 week limit written into the state's statute, not one of the babies he is accused of harming was over 24 weeks and there is no evidence that any of them was born alive. His arguments persuaded the judge in the case to throw out three of the infant murder counts against Gosnell for "Baby A, "Baby B" and "Baby C" as well as five counts of corpse abuse. (Apparently, babies were kept in jars and their feet and sometimes entire legs were severed and preserved as well. Multiple babies appeared in photographs which showed their upper spinal columns had been cut in order to snip the spinal cords.) Four remaining counts of infanticide and one count of murder of an adult remained against Gosnell on Tuesday, April 23 after the judge's ruling.
Yesterday, in an apparent about-face, the judge reinstated the murder charge for "Baby C". "Baby C" survived its abortion procedure, and according testimony by clinic workers, was laid on a counter where it lived for twenty minutes and moved its arms. Workers testify that they "played" with the baby by pulling on its arms and watching it pull back before killing it.
The outcome of this hideous trial and Gosnell's ultimate fate remain to be seen but the reaction to it by our society reveals a lot about how far we have fallen morally. The mainstream press has remained silent on a trial that is one of the most grisly, scandalous, and shocking of my lifetime. I have seen photos of the empty courtroom seats reserved for the press. When Gosnell announced this week that he would not take the stand in his own defense, Huffington Post actually made that a headline. But when the judge reinstated the murder charge for a baby brutally murdered after twenty minutes of life, I saw the update on my Twitter feed because TheBlaze.com had covered the story. The disgusting, macabre details of this man's crimes are the stuff of nightmares, but in a society where grisly, bloody violence sells almost as well as sex, and people will pay high ticket prices to see slasher movies like the "Saw" series, nobody wants to talk about Kermit Gosnell.
Why? I have seen some conservative commentators speculate that the media does not want to cover the Gosnell trial because it shows abortion for what it really is--murder. That's part of it; but it really is only a part of media black out of this story. The other part is that our society is rapidly morphing into the society that Schaeffer and Koop predicted and feared--a society without compassion, without empathy, without concern. We are fearsomely close to pre-Nazi Germany in our attitudes about the value of human life.
In 1949, Leo Alexander, a psychiatrist from Boston who had been consultant to the Secretary of War and had served with the office of the Chief Council for War Crimes in Nuremberg from 1946-1947, wrote a paper titled, "Medical Science Under Dictatorship." He writes that before Hitler became the German Chancellor in 1933, a barrage of indoctrination had already begun against, "traditional, compassionate nineteenth century attitudes against the chronically ill, and for the adoption of a utilitarian, Hegelian point of view." This propaganda spread everywhere, from mass entertainment, as in a German film called, I Accuse in which the husband of a woman suffering from life-long multiple sclerosis finally euthanizes her while a sympathetic colleague plays the piano softly in another room, to the public education system which included high school textbooks such as Mathematics in the Service of Political Education, 2nd edition 1935, 3rd edition 1936, which included "problems stated in distorted terms of the cost of caring for and rehabilitating the chronically sick and crippled. One of the problems asked, for instance, is how many new housing units could be built, and how many marriage-allowance loans could be given to newly-wed couples for the amount of money it cost the state to care for 'the crippled and insane.'" In other words, the German people were fed a steady diet of a philosophy that some lives are not as important as others, and that the less worthy lives were draining funds which could be used for the happiness of those more deserving than they.
Hitler did not issue the first euthanasia order until 1939, after the German people had received a sufficiently steady diet of this philosophy to no longer object. The organization that he established to kill children under the Third Reich was called Realm's Committee for Scientific Approach to Severe Illness Due to Heredity and Constitution. Patients who were being killed were transported by "The Charitable Transport Company for the Sick" which billed their relatives for the cost of their extermination while falsifying the death certificates so that they would not understand how their loved ones had actually died. Leo Alexander tells us, "It all started with the acceptance of the attitude that there is such a thing as a life that is not worthy to be lived." From there, Hitler was able to kill more than 9 million people in Europe.
What does all of this have to do Kermit Gosnell? Very simply, I believe that the media black out of the Gosnell trial has less to do with protecting the abortion industry than it does with an overall move to retrain our society away from respect for life and the sanctity of life and towards an overall apathy and callousness toward the deaths of others. We are now seeing our own media propaganda in this direction. In the last twenty four months, I have seen an episode of The Mentalist in which a regular character who is dying of cancer decides to commit suicide and asks the show's main character, Patrick Jane, to stay with him while he dies so that he will not be alone. Although Jane is at first very uncomfortable with this request, he does stay and performs sleight of hand coin tricks to distract the dying man until his life ebbs away. Criminal Minds last year featured an episode in which the ex-wife of one of the main characters also finds out that she is terminally ill and decides to commit suicide and asks that her ex-husband stay with her while she is dying. Again, he is uncomfortable, but she has already consumed a fatal dose of some toxin, and so he compassionately holds her while she expires. I want to note that in neither one of these shows did the principle character do anything to actively kill the person who died or to actually assist in the suicide, but the overall message was that they were compassionate good people by respecting the other person's right to die and by being a friend and not interfering. This is the first step in saying that death can be preferable to life.
There are going to be a lot of other steps. Next year many parts of The Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented. This coverage was supposed to provide every American with full access to health care regardless of health issues or pre-existing conditions. Are we still so naive that we really think that a government who can't manage to pay the air-traffic controllers in order to avoid long delays at the airport will be able to cover the cost of every American's healthcare? Even Democrats like Max Baucus are now calling the Affordable Care Act a "train wreck". What the Act will do is force Americans to think in terms of which lives are worth saving. The oft mocked "death panels" are a necessity when a society of finite resources takes it upon itself to make health choices for every person. As Alexander points out, "It is important to realize that this infinitely small wedged-in lever from which all this entire trend of the mind [the German mass euthanasia program] received its impetus was the attitude towards the nonrehabilitable sick." When we as a society have to start making these decisions what will we choose? Should healthy young people not be able to get as many benefits from the government because public resources are being used to treat people with chronic illnesses, or seniors with cancer? How many scholarships could be given to our best and our brightest if the money were not being spent caring for the "crippled and insane"? And so it begins.
Whatever happened to the human race? The Germans could have chosen not to listen to the propaganda. They could have chosen to reject Hitler and his social engineering and ethnic cleansing in favor of respect for all life and protection for all people. They didn't. The choice is now ours. Will more of us stand against Kermit Gosnell, not just for the sake of the 8 original infants he was charged with murdering and the many, many more who died as the course of his normal practice, but because we understand that more is at stake than the life of a 71 year old abortion doctor in Philadelphia and his victims? Will we allow ourselves to be lulled into apathy ("Those babies weren't wanted anyway. Who would have taken care of them if they had lived?") Hitler succeeded in his genocide in large part because German people from every walk of life supported him and furthered his goals. If the Germans had refused to participate, they could have stopped the Holocaust before it began. What will we do?
Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her newest novel, The Chosen, about one small group of Americans' fight to restore the Constitution and end indefinite detentions without trial, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at http://www.frontier2000.net.