“The slippery slope” doesn’t frighten very many people in Washington because that’s where a lot of politicians live. Life can be comfortable there, and it’s usually quite profitable. But it’s a dangerous piece of real estate for the rest of us.
You don’t have to stand with the right-to-life folks to be outraged by the callousness and coldness of Planned Parenthood executives defending their abortion business and its subsidiary, the selling of baby parts — tiny hearts, livers, lungs and the occasional brain — acquired from the abortions performed in Planned Parenthood clinics.
The slippery slope extends from the U.S. Supreme Court, where it decided in 1973 in its famous Roe v. Wade decision that women have a constitutional right to abortion, through the partial-birth decisions later in the previous century, the death clinics of the infamous Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, and now to the Planned Parenthood market in baby parts.
Four decades ago, in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, no one, not even the most dedicated feminist guarding a woman’s “right to choose,” imagined that one day she would defend the grisly partial-birth abortion, if only with convenient silence. Who would defend Kermit Gosnell, as ugly as Kermit the Frog, and who became rich, hard and remarkably insensitive over the course of his 16,000 abortions in 31 years in his abattoir in West Philadelphia?
He joked with assistants over the size and health of some of the babies — “fetuses” in the lexicon of such clinics — he extracted from the wombs of desperate women. “That one’s big enough to walk to the bus,” he said of one such. Dr. Gosnell, as it emerged at his trial, was not above visiting death on the occasional fetus that made it to childhood. One aide recalled how one fetus emerged screaming for life. But he grew rich, which in modern America excuses a lot. The cops, searching his house after his arrest, found $250,000 in cash stuffed away for petty expenses.
Once upon a time this would have been regarded in any newsroom as a ripping good read. But little of this came to public attention because the newspapers and television networks, its editors and anchors preferring not to see the slippery slope at their doorstep, could not find room in their pages or time slots to tell the story. The day the trial opened, after months of gory details leaking into the observant media, the networks ignored the testimony and The New York Times, which imagines itself the responsible newspaper of record, posted a small story on Page 17. Newspapers in New Zealand, however, covered what nearly all American papers ignored.
The Philadelphia grand jury investigating Dr. Gosnell and his clinic — which employed unlicensed medical students and an “anesthetist” who had dropped out of school in the sixth grade — learned that the Pennsylvania Department of Health had discontinued investigations of abortion clinics because they didn’t want to be guilty of “putting a barrier up to women seeking abortion.” Ignorance is bliss (unless you’re a woman lying on a gurney with a sixth-grade drop-out about to put you to sleep). The slippery slope would be protected, whatever the cost.
Over the years a lot of presidents, governors, senators and mayors have taken up residence on the slippery slope. Planned Parenthood has its headquarters conveniently located there, the better to protect its $500 million annual raid on American taxpayers. The latest disclosures about Planned Parenthood’s body-parts sales have been only an annoyance in Congress, where senators put the back of a delicate and well-manicured hand to a brow, and cry “Heaven forfend!” pretending to be shocked! Shocked!
Three sting videos, produced undercover by an activist group which gave itself the felicitous name Center for Medical Progress, have exposed the astonishing callousness of Planned Parenthood, and even managed to shame some of its executives. In the video, one Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the senior director of medical services, nibbles at an arugula salad and sips red wine (vineyard and vintage unknown) while explaining to the video producer, posing as a buyer of the baby parts, how they’re careful to extract hearts intact because “that’s what a lot of people want these days.” In the second video, Dr. Mary Gattas, a medical director, explains how she prefers “less crunchy” techniques in performing abortions.
Planned Parenthood might have sacked these lovely ladies, if only to teach a lesson and to demonstrate its own decency and regard for what are, after all, God’s own creatures, crunchy or not. But it’s probably not necessary. Life’s good, with an occasional scream, on the slippery slope.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.