A Fresh Look at Old News

A note for readers, especially those long-suffering souls who have followed this pro-life blog since it was a hatchling seven years ago: a couple of years ago, I promised you a sort of best-of anthology from the first five years of the blog. (If you’ve forgotten, I forgive you.) That project, like a child with a mind of her own, has gone off in another direction.

The longer I worked on the manuscript, with all of the necessary prefaces to the posts in order to provide updates, the more I realized that the updates are the real story.

And so, a new e-book is simmering away on the figurative front burner. I am reaching out to some of the people whose stories I’ve had the privilege to share, hoping to discover where they’re heading now. I’m re-visiting places and recurring events, ready to give them a fresh look. I’m taking a look at how the Granite State has moved in terms of public policy. (That might be a short chapter.)

There’s good news to go along with all the challenges we face in New Hampshire regarding respect for life. We have neighbors people doing inspiring work. I’m excited about catching up with everything.

The goal: when I’m done writing, and after the whole edit-illustrate-format cycle(s), I’ll have a short book worth sharing with you. Stay tuned.

“Gosnell” Book: Tough & Challenging

Cross-posted at EllenKolb.com. This post contains an affiliate link.

Gosnell by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer is not easy to read. The style is smooth and fluent, but the topic’s a tough one: Kermit Gosnell, former abortion doctor, now serving life in prison. He killed children who survived attempts to abort them. He was found responsible for the death of a woman who came to him for an abortion and died under what passed for his “care.”

He committed terrible crimes. He is in prison now. Reporters covered the trial as it happened, once they were shamed into it by people like journalist Kirsten Powers. Three years after Gosnell’s conviction, there is now a book that sets down not only what happened, but tells more about the people who were involved. As McElhinney and McAleer tell their stories, the book becomes less about a court case and more about human beings, capable of good choices and bad ones.

I listened to McIlhinney and McAleer talk about their book at CPAC, a political conference in Washington. An odd venue, but perhaps that was the place to reach readers who might not otherwise hear of the book. McAleer was a quiet man, leaving most of the talking to his co-author (who is also his wife).

McIlhenney was not at all quiet. She was passionate and angry as she talked about Gosnell. She was indignant. She called Gosnell “America’s biggest serial killer,” and she meant it. She made no bones about it: she had no objectivity left regarding her subject.

Familiar as I was with the Gosnell case, and as impressed as I was by McElhinney’s passion, I wondered what could be new in the book. As I read, I quickly realized that the close attention to the individuals involved in the case, starting with the investigators, set Gosnell apart from anything else I’ve read on the subject.

The authors’ perspective is unique as well, as McElhinney explains in the preface: “I never trusted or liked pro-life activists. Even at college I thought them too earnest and too religious.”

Fast forward to April 2013 and Kermit Gosnell’s trial in Philadelphia, when everything changed….[T]he images shown in the courtroom were not from activists, they were from police detectives and medical examiners and workers at the 3801 Lancaster Ave. clinic….What they said and the pictures they showed changed me. I am not the same person I was.

Read the rest of the post at EllenKolb.com.

A different sort of gift guide


From the Leaven for the Loaf Facebook page: as Advent winds down, let me suggest two gifts that you can give any time of year.



 

Encore: look for this basic pro-life reference book

This post was originally published on Leaven for the Loaf on May 4, 2012. The text has been edited.

Voices of Post-Abortive Women

Aborted Women: Silent No More by David C. Reardon. 1987: Crossway Books, ISBN 0891074511.  Reissued 2002: Elliot Institute, ISBN 0964895722

I have the older edition on my shelf. It was the first thing I ever read about post-abortive women, beyond a few brochures from an outfit called Women Exploited by Abortion. With WEBA’s cooperation, Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states about their abortion decisions and the aftermath. The survey results would have fit into a short magazine article. What makes the book so enlightening and necessary are the many stories recounted by and about the women who agreed to speak to Reardon.

Reardon surveyed 252 women in 42 states. That’s a fairly small sample, and to a degree it was a self-selected group, since the women were part of WEBA. The stories and the numbers are powerful nonetheless. All the women cited in the book were determined to be “silent no more”. Their stories had, and continue to have, urgency and importance.

One of Reardon’s statistics stands out even today: over two-thirds of the women surveyed felt rushed to make the abortion decision. It’s ironic that lawmakers still argue now over whether a 24-hour waiting period is too great an imposition on a woman’s right to choose abortion.

This book is available on Amazon but might be hard to find in bookstores. Look on your church’s bookshelf. This one made a splash when it was first published, and a lot of faith communities with active pro-life ministries picked up the book.

Gosnell’s chilling words from jail: new e-book by Philadelphia reporter

book image from amazon.com
book image from amazon.com

Kermit Gosnell is in jail, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever get out. He is unremorseful after his convictions in the deaths of babies whose spines were snipped after surviving attempted late-term abortions. He’s not sorry about the conditions in his office that played a role in the death of Karnamaya Mongar. How does one get inside the head of such a man?

Steve Volk, a reporter for Philadelphia magazine, decided to give it a try. He didn’t aim to glamorize Gosnell, but he wanted to figure out why and how he wound up doing what he did. Communicating with the incarcerated Gosnell was a complicated process, but Volk’s persistence paid off. Now Volk has expanded his original magazine article into a short e-book. (I got my copy via Amazon.com, priced at $2.99.)

I can’t tell which side of the abortion debate Volk favors, although he clearly feels a sense of horror for Gosnell’s brand of medical practice. Volk sets out to be a scribe, not an advocate. He writes with unadorned clarity about what he saw and heard in the course of the Gosnell trial, along with his more recent communications with Gosnell. The result is a record of a crucial moment in medical and cultural American history – a moment too important to be left to fleeting headlines.

Gosnell considered babies who survived abortion attempts to be already dead, despite movements clearly indicating life, leaving him with no qualms about the “snipping” for which he is most notorious. His determinations of fetal age were sometimes more political than medical, as he listed many patients as being “24 ½ weeks” pregnant; state law limited abortions to 24 weeks. Yet despite grand jury findings and the outcome of the trial, some of Gosnell’s former patients who knew him before the days of his “Women’s Medical Society” still don’t believe that he did the things for which he was convicted.

Volk’s account is hard to take in some sections. That’s the nature of his subject. The book is important lest we forget what happened at 3801 Lancaster in Philadelphia.

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