It was the great moral struggle of my father’s generation. When they started out, few gave them a snowball’s chance in hell of accomplishing their noble and selfless goals of making this a better, happier, fairer, more tolerant, more compassionate world. They battled ignorance, fear, and, worst of all, the ingrained prejudices of bitter clingers, but they never gave up. They took the fight all the way to the Supreme Court — and, in a landmark decision, they won. Indeed, we speak of it to this day in the hushed, reverent tones others might use for, say, the Holy Koran.
I’m talking, of course, about Roe v. Wade, which enshrined a Woman’s Right to Choose as the most sacred secular sacrament in our canon of unholy rites. For us, a day without an abortion somewhere in this great land is like a day without a sermon on climate change: The world is a drab and bitter place, in which the cheery hosannas of the unborn dead cannot be heard, praising the glory of a Gaian world they will never pollute with their presence. Forget that Baudelaire dude and the gimp, Verbal Kint: The Master’s greatest trick was not convincing the world he didn’t exist, but persuading women that it was morally affirmative to murder their own children. Medea, take a bow!
I’ve long tried to tell you wingnuts that the best way to think about us is that we’re a kind of suicide cult, made miserable by our existence but joyous at the prospect of our demise, and forever thinking up ways to destroy ourselves. While at first blush this might seem a little extreme to anyone who has an ounce of self-preservation, it all becomes understandable once you consider this: We don’t care what happens to us — since there is no there there after death — as long as we take you with us. And what better way to ensure the future than to make certain there are fewer Americans in it?
Now, you may quibble that Medea killed children who were, you know, actually ambulatory, but to us and Peter Singer, that is a small matter, a mere detail, a bagatelle of a bump in the road on our way to a more perfect nihilism. Which is why I’m here to celebrate a great American named Kermit B. Gosnell, M.D., a man who was standing up to the forces of bigotry and intolerance and unreasoning pedophobia by providing abortion services at his Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia — until, unaccountably, the state of Pennsylvania arrested him.
And for what? Ask the Philly D.A.:
Gosnell staffed his decrepit and unsanitary clinic entirely with unlicensed personnel, let them practice medicine on unsuspecting patients, unsupervised, and directed them to heavily drug patients in his absence. In addition, he regularly performed abortions beyond the 24-week limit prescribed by law. As a result, viable babies were born. Gosnell killed them by plunging scissors into their spinal cords. He taught his staff to do the same.
The grand-jury report offers some alleged details:
The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment — such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff — was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house.
Well, one man’s “baby charnel house” is another man’s monument to the House that Blackmun Built, and surely reasonable men and women of good conscience can agree to disagree, even if Roe is long-since settled law and if you troglodytes so much as try to touch one hair of its sacred little head, we’re coming after you with scissors, suction, a pair of pliers, and a blowtorch.
You see, the alleged problem that got Dr. Gosnell in trouble was that some of the babies were allegedly not dead at the time the inchoate tissue that formed their tiny brains and spinal chords was allegedly ruptured and excised. And one of the incipient mothers died too, although as we like to say: Stuff happens. Once you accept the proposition of abortion pretty much on demand, including post-“birth,” this seems to us a distinction without a difference, but there’s no accounting for the lengths to which you Christianist Javerts will go in order to hunt down innocent women’s-health specialists.
And talk about judgmentalism! Get a load of this, also from the grand-jury report:
This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels — and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.
You bet no one put a stop to it. Because if there’s one thing we can’t have, it’s inspectors traipsing around abortion clinics, making sure all the bureaucratic niceties are observed — as if docs have time for stuff like that when there’s a world of babies about to be “born,” waiting to be scissored to death. Give a provider a break! Oversight would just scare away the poor, often underage, mostly minority women who brave the throngs of screaming hate-filled “pro-lifers” in order to exercise their Right to Choose. When 41 percent of the pregnancies in New York City are mercifully terminated, as they were in 2009, we know we’re doing something right, and we simply cannot rest until that number reaches 100 percent. What a defeat for the forces of intolerance that will be. What a thumb in the eye of the Archbishop of New York and that Nazi Pope in Rome, too!
While it’s true that the alleged details of Dr. Gosnell’s practice can make you squeamish right-wingers uncomfortable, our brave women are made of sterner stuff. They know the parasitic clumps of cells in their wombs — punishment-by-“baby” for the simple, innocent, joyous act of sexual intercourse — are being eliminated for a higher, nobler cause than mere Christianity. We progressives don’t believe in the afterlife, unless we’re trying to fake some sort of “faith” on television, but we do believe in, shall we say, an eternally resonating resonance that proclaims to the universe: We were here. We lived. We killed. Mission accomplished.
So thank you, former Rethuglican governor Tom Ridge, for your heroically pro-choice blind eye to what was allegedly going on in Philadelphia. There’s nobody we secular socialists like better than a nervous, sweaty RINO, politically correct even if it kills somebody. Code Yellow!
And thank you, Dick Nixon, for appointing Justice Blackmun, who was confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court by a vote of 94–0. Like so many others, Blackmun grew in office, converting to the side of the enlightened; he was welcomed to the side of truth, justice, and the Frankfurt School way by none other than William Kunstler. We couldn’t have done it without you, Harry.
Finally, thanks to my parents, the sainted “Che” Kahane and what’s-her-name, who bravely stood up to our own side and declined to have me aborted, because they knew — they just knew — that I would grow up to be the Stendhal of this particular charnel house (yes, I know, charterhouse, charnel house, what’s the difference, it’s the literary allusion that’s important to my peroration), granting me a temporary reprieve from the doom that awaits us all.
Which is why I’m so excited about my next movie project, loosely based on what allegedly happened in Philly, which I’m pitching to my agent later today. It’s part docu-drama, part homage. Part thrilling adventure story and part tale of moral uplift. She’s going to love it, and so are you:
Philadelphia Jones and the People’s Clinic of Doom — This Time, It’s Personal.
— Sitting in his hot tub at his palatial pad in Echo Park, David Kahane sometimes looks up at the stars at night and wonders why he was cursed with existence. Then he comes to his senses and has another beer. You can share your own horror stories of this hell on earth with him at [email protected] or by looking for the cover of Rules for Radical Conservatives on his Facebook page and begging to be his cellular-tissue “friend.”