NRL News

“Folks appear to be hearing these arguments for the first time”

by | Mar 1, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

A friend of mine made an astute observation earlier today. Looking across the cultural landscape, he sees an electorate beginning to awaken to the horrors that inevitably accompanied legalized abortion

Referring to the ghastly stories about what PPFA is reported to have allowed to go on its clinics and to the nightmarish saga of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, he observed of their seismic impact on your efforts: “Folks appear to be hearing these arguments for the first time.”

Indeed! Pick your metaphor: ice cracking; dams breaking; truth as a disinfectant. All of a sudden, what’s been there all along—all the ugliness– is now coming to light.

Just yesterday another friend I had known for just as long— 30 years—sent me the Associated Press story that ran over the weekend. The very, very neutral headline read “Past medical testing on humans revealed.”

I’ve reprinted parts of a blog bioethicist Wesley Smith wrote.  Both of us are responding to an Associated Press story that began, “Shocking as it may seem, U.S. government doctors once thought it was fine to experiment on disabled people and prison inmates. Such experiments included giving hepatitis to mental patients in Connecticut, squirting a pandemic flu virus up the noses of prisoners in Maryland, and injecting cancer cells into chronically ill people at a New York hospital.”

The entire backdrop to why this is a story now is not necessary to get to the meat (in this case, rancid meat) of the story. The Associated Press had untaken an exhaustive review “of medical journal reports and decades-old press clippings and found more than 40 such studies [“studies that often involved making healthy people sick”].

“At best, these were a search for lifesaving treatments; at worst, some amounted to curiosity-satisfying experiments that hurt people but provided no useful results.”

Again, even this is tame language for a litany of terribly wrong experiments that exploited those who were utterly powerless and who in many instances completely unaware of what were being done to them. How could this happen?

Lots of reasons. For example, “Attitudes about medical research were different then. Infectious diseases killed many more people years ago, and doctors worked urgently to invent and test cures.” Not particularly persuasive, in my opinion.

Better answers–a sense that desperately poor people of color, those in mental institutions, and prisoners were little more than natural resources to be exploited. An underdeveloped (to put it politely) sense of medical ethics. A very much of an “ends justifies the means attitude,” especially in the search for “cures.”

According to the AP story, there were various “reforms,” but a lot of unethical behavior continued. (“By the 1960s, at least half the states allowed prisoners to be used as medical guinea pigs.”)

But “two studies in the 1960s proved to be turning points in the public’s attitude toward the way test subjects were treated,” according to the AP. And they were awful.

I raise this depressing litany because I believe that just as we are now looking back at these examples of dehumanizing and outrageous behavior–and condemning them– so, too, we can hope that we might be “shell shocked” by another series of outrages and condemn what precipitated them: abortion.

It is not as impossible, or even improbable, as it might have seemed only a few months ago. People are gradually looking beyond and behind the image that Bill Clinton patented for pro-abortion politicians and the abortion industry they protected: abortion as “safe, legal and rare.”

Abortion is neither safe nor rare. And it is neither safe nor rare because it is legal and protected by powerful politicians and institutions.

But change IS coming. Read your February issue of National Right to Life News and you will be greatly encouraged by the many examples.

Please send your comments to If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at

Categories: Uncategorized