Nightmare on 3801 Lancaster

It shouldn’t take the Gosnell abortion clinic catastrophe to open our eyes

Jars of baby feet and fetal remains.

Bloodstained walls, sheets and women lying half lifeless in chairs.

Babies born, crying with life, then scissors to their necks, severing their spinal cords. Some die immediately. For others it is slower, and they twitch about. A woman, strapped to a bed, cries out that she wants to keep her baby. But a monster calls her the baby, and she is outnumbered by staff who proceed.

She wakes up groggy but knows her baby is no longer with her. She weeps and asks to hold her child. But no one answers. They all ignore her.

Does this sound like something out of a horror movie?

It’s not. It’s real. It is the story of Kermit Gosnell and his abortion clinic in Philadelphia, Pa. on 3801 Lancaster Avenue. The documentary “3801 Lancaster” reveals the truth behind this nightmare.

For those of you not familiar with this story, Gosnell’s clinic was up and running for many years. In fact, the last time a representative from the state department of health had inspected the clinic was 1993.

Gosnell primarily performed late term abortions, in which the fetus is often viable. Various atrocities took place at Gosnell’s far below par facility, including one woman suffering a perforated uterus in 1996, another dying after an abortion in 2002, and another dead in 2009. One died because a general office worker started her anesthesia, and she suffered a lethal overdose. The health department was notified of all these incidents,

Not once did they investigate.

In addition to these heinous crimes, seven infants experienced Gosnell’s horrific snipping procedure, live babies murdered.

As I type I feel my stomach churn, but I try to keep my words lucid and composed. I don’t know what infuriates me the most: The obscenities that occurred at this terrible excuse for a medical facility by this man and the irresponsible workers below him, the utter negligence of those who are supposed to protect our health and communities from these kinds of atrocities, or the fact that it takes an event like this for people to realize the horror of abortion, for mothers and babies. There are those who will call this case murderous, but still justify the killing of a human baby as long as it’s not viable. We demand rights for diverse sexualities and genders and ethnicities and races and classes. Yet we fail to give the most basic right of life to the innocent who cannot speak up for themselves.

One woman had eight abortions by Gosnell in 14 years, and when she returned after her first, one of the workers explained how perfectly normal abortion is. For every abortion after, she viewed it as a form of birth control. Reflecting in the documentary, she says she doesn’t know what she was thinking, as she weeps bitterly.

Ferris women, this is you. You are those at risk. If this heartbreaking story doesn’t change your views of abortion for the horrendous act that it is (and as polar as the issue of abortion is, I doubt it will), at least become an advocate for your health and the health of others by speaking up in the face of medical atrocities and become a proponent for quality care. Those that are pro-choice argue the importance of this platform on giving women control. Control of their lives and their bodies. But women, when you let your body into the hands of a monster like Gosnell, or anyone who will take that life from you or put your life at risk, you relinquish control.

My colleagues, my fellow students who have undergone abortions—I don’t condemn you. I can’t imagine the emotional toil, the pain and the pressure of knowing the responsibility of a child—it’s impact on your hopes and dreams or the pain of carrying the child of rape. I can’t think of anyone who likes abortion. But don’t let people desensitize you to it. Using protection if sex is your choice or making the choice with your body to sustain a life if you do become pregnant is giving you more power and control than you could ever have in the hands of someone who will take that new life away.

One point made in the documentary addressed the prevalence of abortion clinics in inner-cities, African American communities, and minority communities, targeting those already oppressed. They offer their services as if they are the only choice. They aren’t. You have options. The road won’t be easy choosing life, but neither will choosing abortion. Make the choice that saves lives and promotes health for all.