Safe, legal and...what?

Mr. Smith came to town a few months ago. That is, Representative Chris Smith, D-N.J., the heroic politician who has been fighting courageously in our Congress for the unborn. (The fact that "heroic" and "politician" are rarely linked together is the shame and the sorrow of our current attempts at self-government.) Representative Smith takes his Catholic faith seriously and he has taken it with him to Washington, D.C.

Representative Smith was invited to town by the Coalitions for Marriage and Family and spoke with passion, conviction and blunt facts about how Americans have been deceived by an unfettered abortion industry, so that in 40 years we have allowed 55 million human beings to have been taken from their mothers' womb. 55 million is a huge number. It equals the current population of Great Britain.

Before heading back to Washington, D.C., he left behind a speech he gave to his colleagues in the House of Representatives, entitled "Legacy of Abortion: Forty Years of Victims" (available at: which contain some shocking facts:

-- That despite the fact that Planned Parenthood claims direct responsibility for killing over 6 million unborn babies including a record 333,964 abortions in 2011 alone, Planned Parenthood remains President Obama's favorite organization.

-- Between 1973 and 2008, 403 women died tragically in a process that former President Clinton declared should be "safe, legal and rare." This figure from a report by the Center for Disease Control is considered to be an underestimation since it is so difficult to obtain data on abortion deaths.

-- Over 100 credible studies have shown significant psychological harm, major depression and/or elevated suicide risk in women who abort. Nevertheless, advocates, such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other pro-choice groups, refer to this sinister process in terms of "women's health." The tragic irony of abortion on "baby health" is ignored.

-- Not only does our government support Planned Parenthood's aggressive aborting of babies and educational programming in our public schools with Catholics' tax dollars, but we are paying for abortions abroad. The current White House has sent $50 million a year to the United Nations Population Fund, an organization that supports, plans, implements, defends and whitewashes China' cruel and inhumane "one child per family" policy. Again, that is the tax monies of Catholics and other Americans who firmly oppose abortion.

-- At least 115 studies show a significant association between abortion and subsequent premature births. One study showed a 36 percent increased risk of preterm birth after one abortion and a startling 93 percent increase after two abortions. Similar side effects are seen for babies' birth weight.

Facts are facts, and they tend to pile up around us in such numbers and frequency that they block out the pain and horrors behind the numbers. However, Chris Smith's report to Congress is also filled with personal stories of how girls and women have been tricked by the double-speak about "rights" of the abortion industry.

Martin Luther King's niece is one story. Dr. Alveda King says she had two abortions, but is now staunchly pro-life. In one speech, she told her story and ended saying, "My Uncle Martin had a dream. He dreamed that we would live out that which is self-evident -- that all men are created equal. He called on America to admit our wrongs and turn from them. Today, I call on all of us, regardless of nationality, race or religion, to admit our wrongs and turn from them. I believe that the denial of the right to life is the greatest injustice we face in the world today. There is no compassion in killing. There is no justice in writing people out of the human race."

No story in recent memory, however, has ripped the gauzy veil hiding this murderous practice more than the recent case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, MD. Dr. Gosnell, a wealthy Philadelphia surgeon, had "specialized" for many years in late term abortions, a euphemism for cutting babies out of their mother's wombs within days of being born. Gosnell has been found guilty of severing, with scissors, the necks of seven babies who survived his efforts to kill them in the womb. While there may be some therapeutic justice in this conviction, the case raises the question of why murdering a baby outside the womb is essentially different from using knives and claws and scissors to kill a baby inside the womb.

In 1787, 12 Englishmen met in a London bookstore and decided to end one of the most profitable, extensive and widely accepted institutions in the world. Out of a sense of Christian justice, they pledged their lives and livelihood to eliminate slavery. Some of them knew slavery from the inside: one, having been the captain of a slave ship: another, a former slave. Their plan was to "raise consciousness" of the horrors of slavery and its inconsistency with the Christian faith of their countrymen. It took these 12 men five decades, but they succeeded in England and their movement spread to the rest of the civilized world. Margret Mead wrote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

There are 33 million Catholics in our country. Chris Smith is one. We need 11 more to end this embarrassing crime called "abortion."

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline.