Rep. Marlin Stutzman, from Indiana, heard about Dr. Kermit Gosnell in February and did what congressmen do: He went to the House floor and pleaded with the media to cover the case of the since-convicted Philadelphia abortion doctor whose filthy clinic and horrible actions have exposed the ugly truths behind abortion.
"Innocent life is worth defending," Stutzman tells me. "A monster in Philadelphia ... murdered newborn babies, preyed on vulnerable women and stuffed bodies into freezers, bags and cat-food tins."
But that day in March when he found himself talking about Gosnell on the House floor, he had no idea how personal an issue this would become for him. In a phone call home to his mom days later, he would discover he was the son of a mother who had nearly had him aborted.
"I could never imagine how this case would change my own life," he tells me. "When my mom told me her story -- how her house had just burned down, how she was alone and terrified and how she wanted to find a way to make it 40 miles to get an abortion, but couldn't -- we both cried."
"I can't help but wonder what would have happened if there was a Gosnell clinic four miles away instead of 40," he reflects. "How many more fathers, wives, teachers, doctors and public servants are missing today because of abortion?"
The frightened teenage girl. The single inner-city mom who has made some bad choices and doesn't quite know what she can do. The 20-something on a career track whose boyfriend is not up to the task of fatherhood. The busy young couple that determines it is not the right time. These are all real scenarios, involving real fears, influenced deeply by a culture that pretends abortion is a quick fix, a solution to a problem.
The health of not just our citizens but our national soul demands that we do a better job, that we work hard to foster and nourish life, both in the womb and outside of it. It's the only way to ensure a society that lives up to the ideals it was founded upon.
In the wake of the Gosnell verdict, we cannot be satisfied with merely moving on or even simply knowing that Congress has now made moves toward investigating what's happening in abortion clinics across the nation.
"It doesn't matter who you are, if you can't come out and say it's wrong to kill newborns, you need to examine your conscience," Stutzman says.
Here, perhaps we could consider that even the word "abortion," which occasionally creeps out from under the euphemisms, is a euphemism in itself, similar to the military's use of "collateral damage" to mean dead civilians. We all know what's really happening here.
Kathryn Lopez can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.