The classic film “Anatomy of a Murder” was released in 1959. It stars the great Jimmy Stewart, my personal choice for the best actor ever. Stewart portrays a lawyer defending a suspect charged with killing a man as revenge for that man raping and killing his wife.
60 years later the atmosphere in America has been tainted by a different sort of homicide. It is the most malevolent form of killing known, snuffing out the life of infants on the verge of birth…and even after exiting the womb.
The Scene of the Present Crime
The murder trial must navigate through the scene of the present crime and discern clues to decide just how the killing unfolded.
A similar process can be used to discover how the present moral crime of promoting infanticide has seemingly sprung to the forefront of culture. The scene of the crime is the video of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s interview in which he calmly describes and endorses killing a child already born.
The statement shocked many when it appeared. The resulting righteous outrage was tinged with surprise as if the deadly sentiment appeared from nowhere.
Murder investigations use forensic evidence from the crime scene to trace the timeline of the killing. Scientific measurements are taken of fingerprints, footprints, debris at the scene and from evidence found on the victim’s corpse.
The forensic evidence for this particular moral crime is not found through scientific instrumentation. It is found through tracing a long and winding historical trail of anti-human life philosophy and ethics which began ‘trending’ around a century ago.
Sanger, Socialism and Planned Parenthood
The trail begins with the personage of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Ms. Sanger led a life of rebellion against sexual norms, the family, and marriage.
She funneled that into an obsession to eliminate anything impeding feminine liberty or license, especially the burden of children. From a young feminist activist to an abortion-rights icon, Sanger traveled the path enamored of Socialism and its lifelong companions such as the philosophy of Eugenics.
Eugenics is succinctly and accurately described as the,
belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by
persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits
(negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have
inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).
Sanger promoted the goals of eugenics throughout her life, and it led her to associate with truly evil movements such as National Socialism, otherwise known as the Nazi Party. Author George Grant writes,
Because of her [Sanger’s] Malthusian and Eugenic connections, she had become closely associated with the scientists and theorists who put together Nazi Germany’s “race purification” program. She had openly endorsed the euthanasia, sterilization, abortion, and infanticide programs of the early Reich.
Her legacy was the creation of Planned Parenthood. Sanger, like most early 20th century elitists, desired that those of “inferior” races and classes be eliminated and that those better suited to ‘liberation’ should advance.
A quote from her 1920 book “Woman and the New Race,” is an alarming precursor to what is happening today.
The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.
Planned Parenthood grew slowly at first due to moral outrage upon the discovery of Nazism’s horrors in Germany. Their power came into full flower during the 1960s and resulted in strongly influencing the legalization of abortion throughout the land.
The Next Step Toward Oblivion: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton
January 22, 1973, the most famous step toward infanticide was taken with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
Roe was accompanied by a lesser-known decision, Doe v Bolton, which was also decided the same day. The two combined to effectively impose legal abortion on the entire nation regardless of the age of the unborn child in the womb, and for virtually any reason.
The stories behind the decisions of Roe and Doe are not as well known as what has happened since. It began when Norma McCorvey, aka “Roe”, with the aid of feminist lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, sued the state of Texas in 1970 to overturn the law.
In March 1970, Weddington and her co-counsel filed suit against Henry Wade, the Dallas district attorney and the person responsible for enforcing the anti-abortion statute. McCorvey became the landmark plaintiff and was referred in the legal documents as “Jane Roe” to protect her identity.
Abortion was illegal in Texas except for saving the mother’s life at that time. That same year, 1970, Hawaii became the first state to legalize abortion for its own state citizens.
The case of Doe v Bolton involved another anonymous plaintiff called “Mary Doe.” Her real name was Sandra Cano. Sadly, she passed away in 2014.
The most amazing facts surrounding both Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano have been that both women never had an abortion and both later became staunch pro-life advocates. McCorvey announced her change of heart in 1995 when she accepted Christ through the ministry of Operation Rescue’s Flip Benham.
Norma McCorvey said that Flip Benham talked to her and was kind to her. She became friends with him, attended church and was baptized. She surprised the world by going on national television to say that she now believed abortion was wrong.
One of the darker facts here was that both McCorvey and Cano were taken advantage of by their lawyers. McCorvey was sought out by Weddington specifically because she was too poor to travel to another state to legally have her abortion.
Cano claimed to her grave that she was directly deceived by her lawyers. She wasn’t an activist for or against abortion, but she came out strongly pro-life after the deception was discovered.
She said she sought help in 1970 from the Atlanta Legal Aid office because she was unhappily married, unstable and pregnant with her fourth child. She also insisted that she thought the papers she signed for Ms. Hames and other lawyers were about divorce and child custody, not abortion. Ms. Cano, who never had an abortion, said she learned the full truth about her case when she went to court in 1988 to have records unsealed.
In 2005, Ms. Cano attempted in vain to get her case reheard before the Supreme Court. Her valiant efforts failed to change the law, however, her last wishes showed her heartfelt conviction.
Her dying wish was for people to “pray for the end of abortion in America and pray for her family,” [said] Allan Parker, president of the Justice Foundation in Texas, which represented Ms. Cano for 14 years
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act
The results of Roe and Doe were that abortion was now legal nationwide, and a new effort of advocates against abortion came to be known as the ‘pro-life’ movement. Various organizations, from the National Right to Life Committee targeting legislation, to others such as Operation Rescue that targeted abortion clinics themselves, came to national attention.
Despite these efforts, the practice of abortion grew at an enormous rate. As this became more common, newer methods of killing the child in the womb also developed until a particularly heinous one called, ‘partial-birth abortion’ began to be used.
This gruesome method is still in use at some abortion facilities. It involves inducing labor and delivering the baby feet first.
Once the child’s body has been removed except for the head, a pair of scissors is stuck in the neck behind the skull. The scissors are opened, creating a large hole through which the brains are sucked out and the baby is killed.
After the “Reagan revolution,” stalled the progress of the pro-death zealots, the election of Bill Clinton started the conveyor belt toward destruction moving swiftly again. The realization that partial-birth abortion, though rare, was being used to terminate life galvanized pro-life opponents to attempt to stop it by passing “The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.”
On April 10, 1996, President Clinton vetoed this measure, which meant allowing the macabre practice to continue unabated. The death march was renewed with fresh vigor by the stroke of Clinton’s pen.
That day was recorded in my personal journal as the “blackest day for the soul of America,” and a host of horrors were put in motion which set the stage for unthinkable evil right under the public’s nose.
The preeminent example of such was the bloody house of terror run by Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Gosnell and His House of Horrors
Ann McElhinney and Philem McAleer chronicled the astounding true story of the monstrous abortionist in the 2017 book, “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.” The book was made into a movie and released in October of 2018.
Gosnell’s body count was inconceivable and included a grotesque collection of jars containing parts of aborted babies preserved and stored in refrigerators! Perhaps most revealing about the real attitude of the Left concerning women’s health is this description of Gosnell’s abortion clinic when it was raided in 2010,
Instruments were not sterile. Equipment was outdated and rusty. Women recovering from their abortions sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets that employees said they “tried” to have cleaned weekly.
Gosnell was charged with various violations of Pennsylvania law, including aborting babies beyond the state’s legal limit of 24 weeks gestation. His case went to a Grand Jury who met for nearly a year before compiling a 261-page final report and releasing it on January 14, 2011.
The report was a shocking indictment of not only Gosnell, his wife, and the clinic staff but also,
in some cases recommended charging [with murder] …officials in numerous state government agencies, all the way up to the governor.
These recommendations from the Grand Jury were put forth because the investigation revealed that almost everyone involved in city, county and state government agencies were guilty of negligence. They had overlooked numerous health violations and even brushed aside the deaths of women that came to Gosnell.
What enabled such a predator as Kermit Gosnell to remain in practice for more than 20 years prior to 2010? It was the complicity of left-leaning bureaucrats and elected officials who believe abortion is so sacrosanct that death, injury or sterilization of women is just the cost of defending the ‘right to choose.’
Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder on May 12, 2013, for killing babies,
who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy clinic,
He was sentenced the next day to two life terms in prison. He avoided the death penalty by agreeing not to appeal his conviction.
Infant Murder Promoted in American Academia
Infanticide began to make serious inroads in American academia 20 years ago when Princeton University hired Peter Singer as a Professor of Bioethics.
Singer teaches and promotes ethics from an atheist, utilitarian perspective. That philosophy views human life as valuable provided it is useful to others.
In 1993 he delineated his views concerning infanticide in the book “Practical Ethics.”
Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood – “rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness” -and therefore “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.”
In other words, he promotes the killing of human beings if they are unable to show those qualities to others and thus ‘prove’ themselves worthy to live.
There are many Universities where anti-life ethics are found. An account by a student from a 2010 ethics class at Harvard illustrates how pervasive these attitudes are in the University system.
The class began with the assignment to read an actual case from a Singapore hospital involving potential infanticide after an abortion. An abortion was performed and the 24-week old baby survived after being left on a table.
A nurse saw the baby was struggling to breathe 20 minutes later. The abortionist had left so she ran and found the only other doctor at the small hospital to ask what should be done.
The doctor chose to save the infant. After seeing the baby, the parents decided to keep their child.
The students were told to be prepared to comment on whether the doctor took the ethical action. The next day the professor asked for the responses.
In a class of about 50, the overwhelming majority of the class said the doctor was wrong to save the baby.
The student’s account of that day is instructive.
I walked into my “Ethics” class the next morning prepared to have my comment on the case be this: “There is no ethical dilemma here. Dr. Chin did exactly what his professional ethics (not to mention his humanity!) would require him to do—save the baby. The nurse called him in to be a physician to the new-born child—not because the mother needed care. He had been summoned for the baby and thus was professionally obligated to help the child. He did.” …I was stunned by the responses that followed, the essences of which were “HOW DARE the physican treat that baby!”
He mentions that during an hour-long discussion there were only three others beside himself who thought it was right to save the baby. 92% of students in an ethics course at the most prestigious University in the nation, perhaps in the world believed the baby should have been left to die.
Those students weren’t taught that at Harvard, they already believed it when they got there. They brought those beliefs into the first day of class.
The professor himself was with the 92% opinion. He justified letting the child perish,
by saying: “The only thing that matters here is: Who are the decision makers? …Can the fetus make a decision?”
Abraham Lincoln is credited with having said,
The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.
Which brings us back to the present moral crimes now promoted at high levels of state government. Perhaps it isn’t so surprising to see these demonic policies come to life after all, given the sordid past century or so.
Perhaps something may be learned by examining this past which would help stop the pro-death advance. One thing is certain. Unless the presence and power of God are with whatever efforts may come about, they will crumble before the anti-life assault.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. Psalm 94:20-22 [ESV]
Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
George Grant – “Grand Illusions, The Legacy of Planned Parenthood,” Wolgemuth and Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1988.
Inset Image 1 courtesy of BattieQ’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Adoremus_in_aeternum’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Thomas Hawk’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Joana Cocarelli’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Giselle’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 6 courtesy of Frontieras do Pensamento’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 7 courtesy of Elvert Barnes Flickr page – Creative Commons License
All other sources linked or cited in the text
Originally published in TIL Journal