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The Poison in America's Bloodstream

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"(T)here might have been some slim hope of reviving Mrs. Mongar."

So reads the scathing grand jury report of the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist whose clinic became known as a "house of horrors." Paramedics had arrived on the scene 20 minutes before, but, "because of the cluttered hallways and the padlocked emergency door," they had trouble making their way through the building. Mongar had a "weak pulse" when they did reach her.

The grand jury report in the case of Gosnell continued: "Doctors ... managed to keep her heart beating, but they never knew what they were trying to treat, because Gosnell and his staff lied about how much anesthesia they had given, and who had given it. By that point, there was no way to restore any neurological activity. Life support was removed the next day. Karnamaya Mongar was pronounced dead."

Mongar was a refugee, recently arrived from a resettlement camp in Nepal. The grand jury report explains: "When she arrived at the clinic, Gosnell, as usual, was not there. Office workers had her sign various forms that she could not read, and then began doping her up. She received repeated unmonitored, unrecorded intravenous injections of Demerol, a sedative seldom used in recent years because of its dangers. Gosnell liked it because it was cheap."

At some point, she stopped breathing and when "employees finally noticed, Gosnell was called in and briefly attempted to give CPR." His defibrillator was broken, "nor did he administer emergency medications that might have restarted her heart."

While paramedics were called, "clinic staff hooked up machinery and rearranged her body to make it look like they had been in the midst of a routine, safe abortion procedure."

These upsetting details are all worth reading and remembering because they happened in America, in 2009, and were scandalously underreported. We should bear the Gosnell story in mind whenever we are talking about abortion, women, inequality, or just about any of the most contentious issues of our day.

Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and restricting access to abortion amounts to a war on women, the argument goes.

But what if Roe v. Wade is the war on women?

What if manipulating words like "choice" and "health" amounts to an assault on common sense and the common good and human rights?

What if we could all take a few steps back, remember Mongar, and think about healing and unity instead of bitterness and division?

That's not happening in presidential politics right now, needless to say. GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump has been saying that Planned Parenthood does good things. He's not into the abortion, but otherwise he's in their camp, he tells us. The problem with that is: Abortion is the poison in the bloodstream that keeps us from a healthy culture.

On the night of Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton talked about the need for more "love" in America. She cannot do this compellingly without addressing the culture of death that has infected the American soul.

Abby Johnson knows abortion -- she's a former Planned Parenthood director in Texas. "Abortion is a product that Planned Parenthood is selling," she explains. Planned Parenthood prioritizes establishing "relationships with people who are most likely to need an abortion down the line," she explains.

Ramona Trevino, also formerly of Planned Parenthood, worries: "Vulnerable women will never receive life-affirming options at a Planned Parenthood because there is no money to be made when women choose to parent or choose to place their child for adoption."

Instead of propping up the abortion industry, as Trump's comments do, Lila Rose, the president of the pro-life group Live Action, suggests: "There are over 13,000 clinics and hospitals across the country where women can go to get better, more comprehensive treatments that don't kill children in the process. That's what our political leaders should be supporting, especially when taxpayer dollars are involved."

We need not demonize Planned Parenthood. There are good people with good intentions who work at such clinics. But we also need not bolster what is a cultural and political behemoth. And we can't forget that the state of Pennsylvania wound up overlooking complaints about a filthy clinic in an impoverished neighborhood that protected no one when a pregnant woman walked through its doors.

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