I recently read with great interest a fascinating story by the Associated Press. The life of a young girl, Lake Annabelle Hall, was saved following surgery to remove a cyst on her left lung. Had it not been discovered it would have killed her. She received such tremendous care that four teams comprised of 43 doctors and nurses tended to her and her mother. If it had been otherwise, her doctor noted, “She wouldn’t make it out of the delivery room.”
Delivery room? Did I neglect to mention that this surgery was done before Lake Annabelle was born?
The cyst was discovered during a routine 20-week OB/GYN visit. Ten weeks later, Lake Annabelle was partially delivered and medical staff performed the life-saving procedure. Fox News reports that “Doctors pulled her halfway out of her mother’s womb, leaving her connected to her umbilical cord and placenta, which served as life support for her,” and then they cut into her little body so that they might save her life. Lake Annabelle is now 6 months old, a marvelous example of the life-saving prospects of modern medical technology.
What a stark contrast between this life-affirming story and the horrors we’ve heard in recent weeks concerning Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial. Gosnell faced numerous charges including first degree murder, third degree murder, and infanticide and he was found guilty of three first degree murder charges and numerous others including the involuntary manslaughter of patient Karnamaya Mongar. His “Women’s Medical Center” in Philadelphia has been accurately described as a “house of horrors.” The techniques employed by Gosnell to take the life of both unborn and born are too gruesome to describe here.
Usually over the top in it’s coverage of anything concerning blood, death, and mayhem, the mainstream media has virtually ignored the story, only reporting on it after being called out for failure to do so. Archbishop Chaput has noted that “the failure—the allergic disinterest—of some of our most important national media … really doesn’t surprise. It’s part of the fabric of a culture that simply will not see what it doesn’t want to see about the realities of abortion.”
The reality of abortion is that it is among the most gruesome and horrifying actions perpetrated on innocent persons. Yet abortion, and to a lesser extent, infanticide have become accepted by the so called cultural elite. In Evangelium vitae Blessed John Paul lamented that “[c]hoices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable… In this way the very nature of the medical profession is distorted and contradicted. (4) The routine infanticide done in the “Women’s Medical Center” has horrified many including the jury who rightly determined that Gosnell was guilty of murdering infants. It cannot be forgotten, however, that the primary difference between infanticide and abortion is the location of the child being killed.
Blessed John Paul II wrote, “The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil” (57). The Gosnell story reminds us that abortion and infanticide are equally morally reprehensible. Whether the baby is murdered in the womb, killed after she is partially delivered, or if she is fully delivered and discarded to die in the toilet of a clinic in Philadelphia, the evil our society has condoned, and our courts and media ballyhoos as a right of women, is distressing.
We cannot be silent. The story of Lake Annabelle reminds us that the child in the womb is a young human being in need of life support, worthy of medical care, and precious in the eyes of God. When I read her story juxtaposed to the Gosnell trial the blatant arbitrariness of the choice for abortion became increasingly evident. How disquieting that the life of many children hang in the balance. Will the surgical instruments that press upon their bodies heal or destroy? Is the planned surgery death dealing or life saving? What the child deserves, we are told, depends entirely upon the choice—the whim or will—of a woman.
Faced with a culture of death, and enlivened by a rich faith tradition, every Catholic is faced with a stark choice: Proclaim and live the Gospel of Life or be silent before evil and embrace death. As the book of Deuteronomy reminds us “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil … I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”
No more complacency. Let us be a people of life and for life.