Seeing a Culture of Death in Real Time
Editor’s note. This comes courtesy of Right to Life of Michigan. You can find out where “Gosnell: the Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer” is showing at gosnellmovie.com/theaters.
When a crime involves inappropriate treatment of dead bodies and suspicious, inhumane, and unethical behavior from the professionals involved, you would expect the story to be met with outrage and a flood of media coverage.
Sadly, there seems to be no shortage of stories like these. Though it is outrageous, it is not uncommon to hear of criminals storing or selling body parts and lying to family members, patients, and customers about what is really going on. Recently, there have been three notable cases with extreme examples of these situations.
Just last week, state investigators found remains of 11 infants hidden in the ceiling between the first and second floor of the former Cantrell Funeral Home in Detroit. The funeral home had been shut down in April due to other violations of state law. The building had new owners who had no idea how many corpses were stashed throughout the building, but an anonymous tip led investigators to the remains.
The authorities have not been able to discover the identity or families of all the bodies they found, and are hoping to discover more through investigating hospital records.
Another recent disturbing example was Arthur Rathburn, a man who ran a “body broker” business out of a warehouse in Detroit. Rathburn dismembered the corpses he received, stored them in undignified and unsanitary conditions, sold the parts of corpses with various diseases such as HIV to unknowing doctors, and lied to the family members, even giving them sand in place of ashes because he had sold every part of the body.
The bodies of four unborn babies were found in Rathburn’s warehouse. Their bodies were not mentioned in his criminal case, even though selling fetal tissue is illegal. Right to Life of Michigan is still working on trying to find the source of the bodies, but the trail is going cold with a famous New York museum being the last bizarre tip.
Finally, there was the case of convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell, perhaps one of the most underreported crimes in history. Not only did the Philadelphia abortionist collect as trophies the feet of babies he had killed through abortions, Gosnell also killed hundreds of babies after birth. He also negligently killed one woman during a botched abortion, and had absolutely zero health or safety standards at his Women’s Medical Society. One clinic worker testified, “It would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.”
Gosnell’s clinic had been ignored for years by health and safety regulators, and even after the death of the adult patient there was no investigation. What finally brought investigators to his clinic was a report of illegal prescription drug use which proved to be true.
While many have tried to ignore Gosnell—despite his status as potentially America’s most prolific serial killer in history—the efforts of people who recognize that the story needs to be exposed have brought his crimes to the silver screen. The movie “Gosnell” is currently in theaters, giving the American people a front-row seat to the ways a culture of death can sow corruption.
In all three cases of Cantrell, Rathburn, and Gosnell, the criminals’ shocking abuse of human life is crystal clear. What is less apparent, but still telling, is the media or investigators’ tendency to too often look the other direction when it comes to the most vulnerable of lives.
In a world that does not protect life in the womb, nor, in many cases, life right before death, how can we expect our culture to reflect anything other than death and the destroying of life?
The late Henry Hyde said, “Look, in this advanced democracy, in the year 2000, is it our crowning achievement that we have learned to treat people as things? We are not debating policy options. This is a debate about our understanding of human dignity. Our moment in history is marked by a mortal conflict between a culture of life and a culture of death.”