The Corner

The one and only.

The Congressman Who Almost Wasn’t


“I couldn’t imagine how scared she must have been,” a son writes of his mother.

Forty years earlier, she almost didn’t have him.

The son writes:

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.

The son is Congressman Marlin Stutzman of Indiana. He wrote this after helping to organize colleagues to talk about the Gosnell case on the House floor — at first, raising awareness, as they say, and then a second time around to make some connections to the culture of late-term abortion and what 40 years of Roe v. Wade have wrought.

He called his mother to ask her whether she had ever considered her options, having become pregnant with him just a few years after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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.”

Knowing what he now knows, he’s grateful for his parents’ “strength.” The conversation made him “wonder how many more fathers, wives, business owners, doctors, and public servants are missing today because of abortion?

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

“At home with my wife and two children that night, my heart ached at the thought that all of this might never have been,” the congressman writes.

Abortion makes him look home. To a scared mother – his scared mother. To his own children.

Abortion is about mothers and fathers and babies. Maybe if we put that in the center of our lives again, as a culture, we might begin to stop hiding behind euphemisms to make ourselves feel better about what we’re allowing to happen.

Gosnell makes it harder to hide behind the rhetoric. Representative Stutzman writes:

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 and five days before.

On the House floor, even before knowing how close this issue hit to home, Stuzman said of the Gosnell trial: “The loss of these lives should scar the conscience of civilized people everywhere.”

He asked: “Has our national conscience been irreversibly seared by the deaths of more than 1.2 million unborn children every year in this country?”

Yesterday Kirsten Powers said that America is better than the late-term abortions that Gosnell has forced us to confront. I pray we are.

This goes back to the Mary Eberstadt book I mentioned earlier here. Congress ought to be holding hearings into what is going on at abortion clinics across the country — work that Live Action and Americans United for Life, among others, have tried to do with their limited resources. It’s actually a matter of women’s health and human rights and it’s the least our federal government can begin to do. But this is so much bigger than Congress; so much bigger, even, than a president who knew about Nurse Jill Stanek’s testimony about babies’ being born alive and left to die a decade and a half ago and argued against the Illinois legislature protecting their lives. Are boys and girls being raised to respect themselves, never mind one another? What happens to a culture where abortion has been legal for 40 years and we’ve been looking away from the naked barbarism of late-term abortion — where we even looked away when they reached the horrific levels of Gosnell’s filthy clinic?

While D.C. was partying with Hollywood and laughing with the president about Michele Bachmann book burnings, Cardinal Dolan suggested that culture might just exist to protect the baby and promote her flourishing. Leroy Carhart tells a woman scheduling a late-term abortion that she will be a better person for the death of her child, that the sacrament of abortion is transformative.

We have some choices to make here. And they are owed a whole lot more than the same-old polarized debates and campaign tactics.