Thursday, May 09, 2013

Naming the 45 Babies Retrieved From the Gosnell Abortion Clinic--Please God-save a people for yourself, save a people from themselves

The trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell is about much more than the man himself. In a painful way, it brings
America face to face with abortion, which, as the defense argued, is “bloody” and “real.”
For those who have had abortions, it brings them again in touch with a pain that is never really far away,
and it brings them in touch yet again with their need for healing. This is especially true when we see what
the Gosnell case has confronted us with: bodies of babies in bags and cartons in the freezer, severed feet
in jars, some 45 babies retrieved in a raid on the clinic and entrusted to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner.
As Pastoral Director of the world’s largest ministry for
healing after abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard, as well as of the
largest mobilization of those who speak out about their
abortions, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, I
have accompanied countless mothers and fathers on their
journeys of healing. And I have presided over the burials
of many aborted babies.
One of the key moments of that journey of healing after
abortion is when the parents name their child. The moment
is powerful and freeing. Up until then, the child was a victim
of de-humanization. Before we can kill, we have to
dehumanize. “This is not a child,” we lie to ourselves; or we
say, “This is not a child for whom I am responsible right
now.” In these or a thousand other ways, a veil of
dehumanization covers the child; a chasm is introduced between that child’s humanity and our awareness
of our need to respond to it with an unconditional acknowledgement and acceptance. But the time is not
right, the burden too great, and so we keep any semblance of the child’s humanity as far away from our
consciousness as we can.
And that is where the power of the name comes in.
People have names. One of the first things we do when coming into the presence of another person — or
even learning about their existence when apart from their presence — is to inquire as to their name. The
name expresses the person, it invites the presence of the person, it both calls and welcomes the person, it
acknowledges that there is something in common between the person and ourselves, and hence in
receiving their name we offer our own.

In the case of Dr. Gosnell, we have heard of the 45 babies retrieved from the clinic. And we have read the
Grand Jury Report and heard the witnesses speak of “Baby Boy A,” “Baby Boy B,” Baby C, D, E, F and G.
But now it’s time, in our collective journey through this nightmare, to connect with these children more
directly. It’s time to name the children. We have no evidence that anyone else has given them a name or
was interested in giving them a name. In fact, these babies were brought to an abortion facility to be killed
and then thrown away. The fact that their parents abandoned them does not give us permission to do so.
“Though father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me,” Scripture tells us (Psalm 27:10). “I have
called you by name, you are mine,” the Lord says (Isaiah 43:1). As Pope John Paul II wrote, “God … has
entrusted the life of every individual to his or her fellow human beings, brothers and sisters” (Evangelium
Vitae, 76). From the point of view, then, that we are one human family called into being by God, these
children are also ours. And that’s why we can name them when nobody else has.
This is what Priests for Life has done. On Ascension Thursday, May 9, 2013, a simple ceremony was held
in the chapel at the headquarters of Priests for Life in Staten Island, NY. We heard the Word of God,
prayed for these babies, their families, and those who participated in their deaths. And we then named
them. I chose the name “Adam” for “Baby Boy A,” simply as a reminder that Adam, the first man ever
created, reminds us that in each man — and in each child — all humanity is somehow represented, and
that our response to that one person, whether acceptance or rejection, shapes our response to every
person. I named “Baby Boy B” Michael, to remind us of the struggle between good and evil that rages in our
culture and in our own mind and heart as we choose how we will respond to each person.
Most of the other names are gender-neutral, since we do not have information on the genders of most of
the babies.  
Moreover, the naming ceremony took place on this Feast of the Ascension, for on that day, the humanity
that the Lord Jesus took to the heights of heaven is the same human nature shared by all of us — rich and
poor, healthy and sick, born and unborn — and by all these babies. We remembered all the babies killed by
Dr. Gosnell, well beyond those found in his clinic, as well as the over 50 million children killed across
America since Roe vs. Wade declared they were not persons.
The names we gave to the 45 babies follow. We invite you to pray for them and their families, and for Dr.
Gosnell and his staff. We look forward, once receiving permission of the Medical Examiner, to give these
children a proper funeral and burial.

Names of the Gosnell Babies
From the Grand Jury Report: “The Philadelphia medical examiner analyzed the remains of 45 fetuses
seized from the clinic. Of these, 16 were first-trimester; 25 were second-trimester, ranging from 12 to 21
weeks; 2 were 22 weeks; 1 was 26 weeks; and 1 was 28 weeks.”
Baby Adam (Baby Boy A, aborted at seven and a half months, six pounds weight)
Baby Michael (Baby Boy B, killed at 28 weeks)
Baby Alex (Baby C, breathed for 20 minutes after delivery.)
Baby Chris (Baby D — Was delivered into the toilet and was seen swimming there.)
Baby Andy (Baby E — This baby was heard to whine.)
Baby Lou (Baby F — This baby’s leg jerked and moved after being delivered.)
Baby Pat (Baby G)
Baby Joshua
Baby David
Baby Ashley
Baby Sal
Baby Terry
Baby Sam
Baby Val
Baby Tony
Baby Ronnie
Baby Sarah
Baby Melanie
Baby Sandy
Baby Corey
Baby Drew
Baby Ryan
Baby Toby
Baby Sean
Baby Kelly
Baby Carroll
Baby Joseph
Baby Benjamin
Baby Stacey
Baby Gabriel
Baby Brett
Baby Julian
Baby Taylor
Baby Courtney
Baby Danny
Baby Kim
Baby Mandy
Baby Robin
Baby Austin
Baby Abel
Baby Michelle
Baby Lisa
Baby Shannon
Baby Nevin
Baby Connor

5/9/13 Naming the45Babies RetrievedFromtheGosnell AbortionClinic | 4/4 Note: Father Frank Pavone is the national director for Priests for Life.
by Father Frank Pavone | | 5/9/13 10:25 AM

  • The Wall Street Journal

Leon Kass: The Meaning of the Gosnell Trial

Eminent bioethicist Leon Kass on the dangers of a world increasingly indifferent to matters of human dignity.


The trial of Kermit Gosnell—a Philadelphia doctor charged in January 2011 with, among other things, murdering seven infants who survived abortions he performed—has been under way for a month. But it was only last week that the case was thrust into the national spotlight. Thanks to intense pressure from conservative critics of the media's apparent lack of interest in the case, the rest of the country has now glimpsed some of what went on for years in Gosnell's benignly named Women's Medical Society.
Investigators who raided the clinic in 2010 saw "blood on the floor" and smelled "urine in the air," according to the grand jury that indicted Gosnell. They also found "fetal remains haphazardly stored throughout the clinic—in bags, milk jugs, orange-juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers." Members of Gosnell's staff testified that the abortionist would deliver babies who had been gestating for as long as 30 weeks, far longer than the 24-week limit imposed by Pennsylvania law. Gosnell or staff members would gouge the infant's neck with scissors to sever the spinal cord, according to the grand jury report. Gosnell referred to the method as "snipping."

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Best of the Web Today columnist James Taranto on the murder trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Photo: Getty Images
These and other appalling details of the Gosnell trial elicit reactions that might be called revulsion or disgust or horror. The word that eminent bioethicist and physician Leon Kass prefers is "repugnance." This intense human reaction reflects a sort of deep moral intuition, he says, and it is one that deserves much more serious consideration than our too-sophisticated culture allows.
"As pain is to the body so repugnance is to the soul," Dr. Kass says as we sit down for an interview in his book-lined office at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is the Madden-Jewett Scholar. "So too with anger and compassion. Repugnance is some kind of wake-up call that there is something untoward going on and attention must be paid. These passions are not simply irrational. They contain within them the germ of insight. You cannot give proper verbal account of the horror of evil, yet a culture that couldn't be absolutely horrified by such things is dead."
The observation may not sound controversial, yet Dr. Kass, who was the chairman of President George W. Bush's Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005, has often found himself in a minority among bioethicists when it comes to abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research, cloning and other right-to-life questions. Dr. Kass's emphasis on what he calls "the wisdom of repugnance," for example, has been assailed by liberal thinkers. The philosopher Martha Nussbaum, for instance, said in a 2004 critique of Dr. Kass's work that repugnance has been used in the past "as a powerful weapon in social efforts to exclude certain groups and persons."
Dr. Kass says his critics misunderstand the role of repugnance in his thinking. "It's not that repugnance is always right," he says. "There was once repugnance at interracial marriage, and there have been other repugnancies that turned out to be mere prejudice. But you wouldn't want to live in a society where people feel no guilt or shame just because guilt and shame are sometimes disruptive—or in a society that doesn't feel righteous indignation at the sight of injustice."
Degradation and its opposite, human dignity, are central elements of Dr. Kass's philosophy, and he fears that American society risks becoming disrespectful of dignity and indifferent to degradation.
Consider abortion. After years of calling for abortions that are "safe, legal and rare," the Democratic Party in its 2012 platform dropped such language altogether in an attempt to appeal to its feminist base. But viewing childbearing solely as a matter of personal reproductive choice, Dr. Kass says, "means we no longer see a child as a gift but as a product of our will to be had by choice only. That makes human choice the basis of all value"—at the price of the child, for "he or she comes from the hands of nature."
Zina Saunders
"Nascent life prior to birth," Dr. Kass says, "does not yet display any of the grand and glorious things for which we applaud humanity in its flowering. And yet it is the dignity of human possibility to be found in nascent life that should lead us treat it not less well than it deserves." He admits to being "agnostic" on the question of whether the embryo "is a human being equal to your grandchildren." Even so, Dr. Kass says, "in the face of our ignorance about its status, the embryo does have a certain claim on us. It is the bearer of human possibility, and we owe it not to mistreat it."
Despite his deep respect for the antiabortion movement—"the people who respect the dignity of nascent life have going for them not just 'Thou shalt not kill' but also a certain regard for the continuity of the generations and the renewal of human possibility"—Dr. Kass sometimes finds himself at odds with its advocates. The movement's narrow focus on nascent life, he worries, blinds it to the fact that "abortion is connected to lots of other things that are threats to human dignity in its fullness."
"Pursuing perfect babies, ageless bodies and happy souls with the aid of cloning, genetic engineering and psychopharmacology," he thinks, are among the most significant of those threats.
"Killing the creature made in God's image is an old story," he says. "I deplore it. But the new threat is the ability to transform that creature into images of our own choosing, without regard to whether the new creature is going to be an improvement, or whether these so-called improvements are going to sap all of the energies of the soul that make for human aspirations, art, science and care for the less fortunate. All of these things have wellsprings in the human soul, and they are at risk in efforts to redesign us and move us to the posthuman future."
Leon Kass was born in Chicago in 1939 to a family of Jewish immigrants. His childhood home was "Yiddish-speaking, nonreligious, lower middle class." At age 15, he was admitted to the University of Chicago where, he recalls, "I did very well on my science placement tests so my adviser made me a science major."
He entered University of Chicago's School of Medicine upon graduation, but not before "acquiring a prejudice in favor of reading old books slowly, a certain taste for philosophical questions, and a keen interest in liberal education."
While he was a medical student, he met and married his wife of nearly 52 years, the classics scholar Amy Kass. The couple went on to Boston, where he completed an internal-medicine internship and earned a biochemistry Ph.D. at Harvard.
"A funny thing happened to me in graduate school," he recalls. "My wife and I spent part of the summer of 1965 in Mississippi doing civil-rights work." The couple lived with a black farmer in Mount Olive, Miss., in a home that had no toilet or indoor plumbing. "I came back from this place with this conundrum: Why was there more honor, goodness and decency in these unschooled black farmers than I found in my fellow graduate students at Harvard, whose enlightened and liberal opinions I shared?"
The answer, he eventually concluded, was that his black hosts displayed "the dignity of honest work and religion"—things he didn't often find among his highly educated peers, most of whom "were only looking out for Number One." Around the same time, Dr. Kass's reading of Rousseau, C.S. Lewis's "The Abolition of Man" (1943) and Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel "Brave New World" (1931)—the latter remains a constant reference in his writings—led him to see that as science advances, morals don't necessarily improve; that the opposite might well be the case.
"And then it dawned on me that you didn't have to go Mississippi to find moral questions," he says. "There were big moral questions right at my feet in the biomedical profession."
After a number of teaching and research stints, in 1976 he returned to the University of Chicago as a professor in the college, later teaching in the graduate program called the Committee on Social Thought. (Dr. Kass retired from teaching in 2010, and he and his wife have in recent years worked together to create "What So Proudly We Hail," an anthology and e-learning project that promotes civic literacy and patriotic attachment through speeches, stories and songs.)
"Unlike questions of segregation and, before it, slavery, where evil was clear and the only question was how to deal with it," Dr. Kass says, "the evils that I saw close to my own area of work were ones that were embedded in very high-minded pursuits: better health, peace of mind and the conquest of nature. Yet they contained within them the seeds of our own degradation."
The trouble wasn't so much with science itself, he thought, as with "scientism," by which he means "a quasi-religious faith that scientific knowledge is the only knowledge worthy of the name; that scientific knowledge gives you an exhaustive account of the way things are; and that science will transcend all the limitations of our human condition, all of our miseries." Scientism's primary goal, Dr. Kass says, "is to put the final nail in the rule of revealed religion." But scientism "also hits traditional, humanistic understandings of the special place of the human being, of the importance of soul, of inwardness and purposiveness."
The idea that materialism "can cure men of the fear of God and the fear of death," as Dr. Kass puts it, is at least as old as ancient Greece. But today it has become especially potent thanks to "the new genetics, which bore more deeply than ever before into the molecular basis of living processes." Then there is the rise of neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, which purport to explain "absolutely everything about human life" in materialistic terms.
Take the concept of human dignity. In a 2008 essay highly critical of Dr. Kass's work on the Bush bioethics council, the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker questioned the value of dignity as a moral guide. "Dignity is a phenomenon of human perception," Mr. Pinker wrote. "Certain signals in the world trigger an attribution in the perceiver." The perception of human dignity, Mr. Pinker went on, is no different from how "converging lines in a drawing are a cue for the perception of depth."
That such an outlook is both blinkered and dangerous, Dr. Kass thinks, should be obvious to anyone who has ever been in love or felt other great emotions. "There's no doubt that the human experience of love," he says, is mirrored by "events that are measurable in the brain. But anybody who has ever fallen in love knows that love is not just an elevated level of some peptide in the hypothalamus."
Nor are degradation and dignity. The Gosnell trial and the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon have degradation written all over them. As for dignity, Dr. Kass says, "You see it in the way nurses treat people who come in for chemotherapy. You see it in the way a great hostess treats a handicapped guest, helping him without causing him embarrassment. You see it in the way people come close to where there is human suffering and are not put off by the horror but do what is humanly necessary."
His voice lowered almost to a whisper, he adds: "You saw it in Boston. Some people fled to safety—others rushed to the danger."
Mr. Ahmari is an assistant books editor at the Journal.
A version of this article appeared April 20, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Meaning of the Gosnell Trial.

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