- - Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On a cold December night in 1975, a 17-year-old girl sobbed on the bedroom floor of a neighbor’s house. Her own home had just burned to the ground, destroying everything she had. But that wasn’t the only weight she carried that night. She had just discovered that she was a few weeks pregnant with her first child. In the dark, alone and terrified, she decided to find a way to Kalamazoo, Mich., 40 miles away, to “take care of her situation.”

That young girl was my mother, and if she had gone to Kalamazoo that night, you wouldn’t be reading this today. I would have been aborted.

Recently, after speaking on the House floor about the horrors of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic in Philadelphia, I began wondering if my mother had ever thought about ending her unplanned pregnancy. My parents never gave any indication that it was ever a consideration, but was it?

I gave her a call. When she answered, I talked to her about my speech on the House floor and then asked gently, “Mom, did you ever think about .” There was a tense pause, and then, through tears she said, “Marlin, I’m so sorry!” As we cried together, I was no longer a congressman, but a son understanding for the first time the heartache and struggles my mom had gone through before I was born. As we talked about her fear of driving 40 miles alone, I had to think, “What if a ‘Gosnell‘ clinic was only four miles away instead of 40?”

She asked if I could forgive her. I answered, “Yes, with all my heart.” I said that I couldn’t imagine how scared she must have been, and how thankful I was for her and Dad’s strength to do the right thing and protect my life. It could have ended so differently. At home with my wife and two children that night, my heart ached at the thought that all of this might never have been.

For 40 years, our society has been unwilling to come to grips with the grim truth about abortion. We’ve raced down a dead-end street, willfully blind to the facts, only to find ourselves at 3801 Lancaster St. — Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in West Philadelphia. There, behind brick walls, he killed hundreds of babies by snipping their spinal cords just moments after delivery.

After hiding behind euphemisms like “choice” for so long, is it any wonder that Dr. Gosnell and his staff hid behind the euphemism of “snipping” to describe severing infants’ necks with scissors? After decades of claiming that the unborn child is just a “blob of tissue,” why should we be horrified to see freezers, trash bags and cat food tins stuffed with such blobs? Why should the White House find Dr. Gosnell’s actions “unsettling” when, as a state senator, President Obama voted against Illinois’ Born Alive Infants Protection Act?

Our natural horror and grief are absurd unless we face the truth that abortion takes an innocent human life. There is no moral distinction between ending a child’s life five seconds after birth or five days before. Yet many of those who are repulsed by Dr. Gosnell too quickly pivot to phrases like “safe, legal and rare” as if they were legitimate arguments.

In fact, these are the abortion industry’s underlying falsehoods — lies the Gosnell case exposes.

What’s the difference between the abortion business, funded by giants like Planned Parenthood, and Dr. Gosnell’s Philadelphia house of horrors? Not much. Abortionists like him have recommended their gruesome practices as normal procedures for years. The only difference now is that their sterile terminology has been revealed in horrific pictures and eyewitness accounts for what it is: the killing of the weakest among us.

Right now, Americans ought to come together for an honest conversation about abortion. In the days and weeks ahead, let’s leave the euphemisms at the door, examine the facts and find our national conscience.

Kermit Gosnell, like every other abortionist in this country, sold lies to young women like my mother. Two years after Roe v. Wade, my young parents made the incredibly difficult decision to reject those lies and protect my life. The impactful conversation with my mom just a few weeks ago made me wonder how many more fathers, wives, business owners, doctors and public servants are missing today because of abortion?

Since 1973, more than 55 million children have been killed before birth. I was just 40 miles from being one of them.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman is an Indiana Republican.