There is a quote that says:
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
And in an effort to remember the truly awful, the incomprehensible worst of humanity, I often pour myself into Holocaust memoirs or biographies because I don’t want to forget. Although I have no ties to the era, the war or the people, the plain evilness of it all haunts me. It is almost beyond my comprehension to understand the apathy of an entire country who collectively turned a blind eye to the humiliation, brutality and murder of neighbors, friends and coworkers. I have seen the documentaries, the footage of skeletal survivors and piled high corpses. Men, women and children just like my family that did nothing but become the abject focus of a mad man. How easy it became to dismiss them. To see them as less than human.
I turn it over and over again in my head.
How could they have allowed it? What makes an entire people lose their humanity?
And so I read, and I weep and I feel physically sick by the survivor’s account. I bear witness through words to the starvation and the cruelty. Tiny, desperate, screaming children pulled away from their mothers. Fathers told to lie in a field. Shot. Flesh ripped from escaping bodies by the gnashing teeth of dogs and entire families choked to death in gas chambers.
Maybe it confounds the mind today but it shouldn’t. After all, aren’t we always one generation away from repeating history? Even the history we swore would never happen again? Not on our watch. Not while we still had the breath of a free people in our lungs. Not while we have the heart of humankind stored safely in our bosom. Isn’t the nature of exceptionalism derived from the good fight? Protecting the world when the world goes awry. Haven’t we declared ourselves the last great humanitarians? A bastion for the weak and the weary.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
And yet we are repeating. And repeating. And repeating.
Maybe there aren’t barbed wired concentration camps on the border of every town. And maybe there aren’t smoke stacks raining ashes of the innocents as a constant reminder of our failings. And while we haven’t ordered the systematic murder of American citizens, we have purposefully turned a blind eye to the most vulnerable among us. We legalized the mass murder of children all because of their status in our society. And their status is unborn.
Kermit Gosnell is standing trial for murder. The few headlines that bother to address the horrific nature of his crimes still use the word “abortion” even though as many as one hundred viable infants were born alive and subsequently brutally murdered. You would think the murder of innocent children, the deplorable conditions and racist driven policies of Gosnell would be ratings fodder for every major news network. Yet, mysteriously, the main stream media is surprisingly quiet. The seats reserved for journalists in the courtroom are curiously vacant despite an emotionally gripping trial detailing atrocities that would put the highly televised OJ Simpson trial to shame.
Where is America?
In 2007 the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban which does not prohibit late term abortion , only a particular method used to end the life of a baby. It is astounding to me that we would have to create a law to stop doctors-men and women who have sworn an oath to first do no harm- from performing a barbaric procedure that critics argue exposes the fetus to incredible pain and suffering as early as twenty weeks gestation. And for those women who receive an abortion close to or right at the twenty four week benchmark set by forty one states in the country, they are asking a doctor to kill a potentially viable baby who will die from an induced heart attack when the body and then heart is pierced by an injection of Digoxin.
Witness after witness described countless babies being born alive, breathing, screaming before being savagely stabbed in the neck and their spinal cords severed with scissors at Gosnell’s clinic of horrors. Silence. Women sat on toilets after having their labor induced only to deliver and have their viable infants drown; a witness testified to one particular baby struggling to survive. It did not. Silence. Thirty years this clinic practiced abortions and murder at the direction of Gosnell despite reports to authorities and the health department of unsanitary conditions, remaining torn fetal body parts left inside a patient, causing sepsis or infection after an abortion, over doses and punctured reproductive organs-nothing. Silence. A former employee tipped off authorities to a death at the clinic and the disgusting conditions but, again, silence. Between 1993 and 2010 not one health department official, police officer, district attorney or detective visited Gosnell’s clinic. In fact, the Philadelphia clinic had an entire staff that knowingly participated in the murder of women and children. And yet. Silence. The only reason Gosnell now stands trial for murder was due to an investigation stemming from illegal prescription drug use. Upon entry into the clinic after a sting operation, investigators reported the following:
Where are you America?
I believe abortion, and particularly late term abortion, is our Holocaust and Kermit Gosnell is our Josheph Mengele. When staff at a women’s clinic can open a freezer and place a red biohazard bag with the lifeless remains of an infant next to a dozen more without alarm, shock or conscience, I believe we are living in dark times. When a fifteen year old has pierced the neck of a living human being (as had been demonstrated by the doctor) and still shows up to work day after day to repeat the same murderous acts, I believe we are broken. When a man finds entertainment in the size of a baby which he has just killed without thought or consideration, I believe hope escapes us. When a group of people consider murder “standard procedure” under the guise of late term abortion, I believe we have crossed the line beyond compassion into numbing apathy.
Like Mengele, who collected the eyes of his death camp victims, Gosnell kept dozens of preserved, severed baby feet as trophies. Jars lined up on a shelf haphazardly as cruel witnesses to his perversion and remarkable disdain for life. While Mengele gave his victims candy and smiles to ease their fears before undergoing horrific medical experiments, Gosnell peddled drug cocktails and anonymity in order to hide his cash driven business built on the blood of discarded babies. Joseph Mengele embraced his power with a fervent, almost euphoric glee much as Gosnell did when giving preferential treatment to white patients over poorer black patients.
Where is the outrage?
During the Holocaust mother’s begged, screamed and fought as their children were literally ripped from their arms. In fact, most mothers were sent to the gas chamber with their small children to die after the Nazi’s decided that the commotion caused by separating mother from child made the killing process inefficient. Kermit Gosnell might have lied to his patients, took advantage of their socioeconomic status and exploited their desperation for an abortion but every woman who walked through the revolving door of the Women’s Medical Society ultimately had a responsibility to their unborn child. They had a responsibility to run, kicking and screaming away from a building that murders twenty four week old babies (as they were all told that was the correct gestation even though many if not most were much further along) that if born alive in a hospital, would (by law) receive lifesaving medical intervention. Instead, these women made a choice, while cradling their swollen midsections, to carry their children to the slaughter. They may not have known what horrors awaited them inside of Gosnell’s clinic, but they knew-without a doubt-that their unborn child’s heart would be stopped by the plunge of a needle. Their choice wasn’t to carry a living child but to end a life because the harsh reality of sometimes tragic circumstances or responsibility seemed beyond their grasp.
Just because twenty four weeks is the legal threshold for an abortion does not make it right and should not make it acceptable in the eyes of our society. How can we call a baby born at twenty three weeks and survives a miracle but a child aborted at twenty three weeks a “choice”? When did we get to a place where a mother’s health supersedes the life of her unborn child, especially when that child could be born with the potential to live instead of being killed in the womb and delivered without any chance at all. It does not make sense that in this day and age, when technology has revealed the intimate details of development, that we can still lay our heads down to sleep each night, knowing that tomorrow a fully formed baby will be killed because an unborn child has legally become an extension of a woman’s own reproductive system instead of an individual with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Michigan physician, Lisa Perry, in an essay to Reproductive Health Matters had this to say about late term abortion:
… [her essay described] performing an abortion on a woman who was 23 weeks along and then immediately running to deliver a premature baby … of 23 to 24 weeks. “I thought to myself how bizarre it was that I could have legally dismembered this fetus-now-newborn if it were inside its mother’s uterus,” she writes, “but that the same kind of violence against it now would be illegal, and unspeakable.” Later she notes, “Currently, the violence and, frankly, the gruesomeness of abortion is owned only by those who would like to see abortion (at any time in pregnancy) disappear.”
The only reason the Philadelphia abortion massacre has a shred of media coverage is because of the deplorable conditions that directly affected their female patients, not the children born alive and then murdered. It took illegal drugs and the death of an adult woman to garner the attention of prosecutors-not the pieces of unborn children left in the wombs of their mothers to rot or the children born alive and breathing only to then suffer an excruciating death. And what of the clinics in the suburbs with their shiny doors and welcome mats? They have clean sheets, coffee in the waiting room and a board certified doctor who performs the same life-ending procedure on an equally viable baby. That we accept. That we condone and tie a bow around. That we ignore and excuse and wish away as a rarity.
We are exterminating our children. Instead of doing what is incredibly painful and seemingly unbearable and giving birth to children that are terminal, unwanted or handicapped, by not allowing God to decide the outcome and determine life or death, we have become what we once hated. A country that turned it’s back on a people and decided their fate out of a righteous sense of morality and a depraved ideology. One man convinced a country that Jews were subhuman. What have we convinced ourselves of? What does it say about our humanity that murdering viable babies is not only acceptable but protected under the law? That a human form, ripped apart by suction and disposed of like tomorrow’s garbage is performed every day by the thousands at legal clinics all over the United States.
This is America’s Holocaust.
God have mercy on us.
April Lakata Cao is a military spouse and writer, but most importantly, mom to four beautiful children.