Back in the late 1970s, when abortion-rights advocates were still rejoicing over Roe v. Wade, they promised us that there would be no more “back-alley” abortions. I still have visions of angry-looking women with coat-hanger earrings, demanding that the state keep its hands off women’s bodies.

Joyce Coronel is a regular contributor to The Catholic Sun and author of “A Martyr’s Crown.” Opinions expressed are the writers' and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.
Joyce Coronel is a regular contributor to The Catholic Sun and author of “A Martyr’s Crown.” Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.

Women need access to safe abortions, they insisted. Keeping abortion legal was the caring, smart thing to do.

Then reality came crashing down around us. Women still die from abortions. And of course, babies always do. Except when they don’t.

Enter Kermit Gosnell, on trial for the murder of four babies as well as the death of one of his patients. We still don’t know how many babies were killed at the filthy clinic that went uninspected for two decades.

But none of those details — not the blood-spattered walls, not the unsterilized surgical instruments, not the corpses of tiny babies kept in cat food containers — are of interest to reporters and their editors these days, unless of course they belong to the Catholic or pro-life press.

President Obama refused to comment on the Gosnell debacle, beyond echoing former president Bill Clinton’s infamous declaration that abortion ought to remain “safe, legal and rare.” No one in the mainstream media points out that the current leader of the free world is the same man who, as an Illinois state senator, voted against legislation that would have required medical personnel to render aid to babies born alive after an abortion.

As the jury deliberates the grisly charges against Kermit Gosnell, there is no denying that babies do sometimes survive the best efforts of those intent on killing them. Gosnell could be sentenced to death for his role in four murders, even though a federal judge recently dropped three other murder charges against him, citing lack of evidence.

Basically, the defense’s position is that Gosnell couldn’t have killed the babies, because, well, he already had with an injection of Digoxin.

My, but we’ve come a long way since those early days of the abortion rights movement. My teenage friends and I protested, picketed and prayed in front of abortion clinics around the Valley all through high school. We thought that if we could just convince people that abortion kills babies, we’d win the fight. Sadly, we were mistaken.

Gosnell’s trial is proof that when abortion is legal, the strong rule the weak. Killing newborn babies is really only one step further down the path, as the testimony against Gosnell went on the record in chilling detail.

Witnesses told of Gosnell’s procedure for killing his patients’ babies: snipping the spinal cord at the base of the infant’s neck. There was testimony about a baby born in a toilet trying to swim away from death, babies who grunted and screamed and squirmed but were killed anyway. Gosnell reportedly joked that one baby, 19 inches long and weighing 6 pounds, was “big enough to walk him to the bus stop.”

As horrifying as all this sounds, there is reason for hope. The younger generation is not buying abortion. Why? At least part of the answer is simple: technology.

A 20-something woman I know — not an overtly religious person — is expecting a baby and still not wearing maternity clothes. I recently asked her 5-year-old if she was ready to be a big sister.

“I already am,” she told me, somewhat indignantly. She’d seen the ultrasound images of her little brother, and pictures don’t lie.

When women have the support they need to continue pregnancies, when the men in their lives refuse to abandon them, when this nation returns to God and as pro-lifers continue their prayerful, peaceful presence outside the clinics, we will end the killing of babies in this country. Until then, monstrosities like those that occurred in Philadelphia will continue while abortion apologists wring their hands and blame pro-lifers for the mess. They just don’t get it.

God have mercy on us. I pray those who peddle death to the unsuspecting will see the light before it’s too late.