In "The Emperor's New Clothes," a preening monarch is hoodwinked into believing that he's just bought a magnificent outfit when all he's been sold is a bill of (dry) goods. Prancing around in what he thinks is cloth of gold, the emperor is complimented by his obsequious subjects. They all would have lived happily ever after had a young boy not pointed his finger and said "he's naked!"
I love that story for what it tells us about the human capacity for self-delusion. We often believe what our hearts suggest despite the clear and urgent message relayed by facts.
Philadelphia has been getting a powerful lesson in self-delusion these past five weeks, as Kermit Gosnell has gone on trial and shown us a disturbing aspect of the abortion industry.
Of course, the supporters of pro-choice and their ubiquitous friends in the media will deny that fact. They, like the emperor's tailor, hope that most of us are gullible enough to believe that Gosnell was an outlier who is as much the face of reproductive rights as Josef Mengele was the face of scientific research.
But their arguments, necessary and understandable from a pro-choice perspective, are weak and contradicted by the facts, which are far more substantial than those invisible imperial garments.
To hear the abortion advocates of Planned Parenthood, NOW and NARAL Pro Choice America, the only way to prevent more Gosnells is to preserve Roe v. Wade. This is exactly what they want us to believe, hoping we don't notice that Gosnell exists precisely because Roe created him.
But this is not a column about the legal legitimacy of what the late Arlen Specter once called, laughably, a "super precedent." This is about hypocrisy and fear, both of which have been exhibited by the advocates of choice in the two years since Gosnell was charged with numerous counts of murder.
Contrary to the frantic attempts of pro-choice advocates to make it seem as if they focused like a laser beam on this doctor and his criminal rampage, their silence has been deafening. While there were a few souls who accused Gosnell of heinous acts, most of them were desperate to distance the doctor from the reproductive-rights movement. As the predictably tone deaf Katha Pollitt wrote in The Nation, "Only women who felt they had no better alternative would have accepted such dangerous, degrading and frightening treatment."
With all due respect to Pollitt, that's hogwash. Gosnell has had a flourishing practice since 1979, six years post-Roe, and he was aided and abetted in his deeds by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its reluctance to probe too closely into his unorthodox practices. They obviously did this to avoid drawing the ire of the abortion industry and its most powerful lobby, Planned Parenthood. Roe is the law of the land, and despite legislative efforts to limit its scope, women still have a virtually unlimited right to dispose of their pregnancies as they dispose of their trash.
The ridiculous suggestion that more Gosnells would crop up if Roe were overturned is contradicted by the sad and sordid facts.
Even if there were some truth to that assertion, this does not justify the despicable manner in which the pro-choice advocates have operated during these past two years and, more specifically, during the past few weeks of trial.
Think, for a moment, of how much attention Michael Vick received when he brutalized pit bulls. Think, also, of the sentence he served in Leavenworth. While no one is excusing violence toward animals, what was done to those poor creatures pales in comparison to the acts committed against babies: crushed skulls, beheadings and severed limbs.
As one unusually honest pro-choice journalist named Megan McArdle noted last week, those on "her side" were reluctant to shed any light on the Gosnell case because, consciously or unconsciously, they wanted to prevent the public from associating reproductive rights with infanticide.
And so, the fairy tale continues. We in the pro-life camp are criticized for conflating Gosnell with abortion, even though our local Sweeney Todd is not an isolated case. Clinics in Alabama, New Mexico, Minnesota, Maryland, Colorado and Florida are being investigated for hazardous conditions and botched abortions.
The abortion industry is naked and bloody. It's time to start pointing the finger.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at cflowers1961gmail.com.