At what point does ambivalence become concern? Consequently, at what point does concern become outrage? Moreover, when we are outraged, we must ask ourselves if we are outraged over the right things?
Recently, the nation was astounded as new agencies told of 2,411 aborted babies being buried during a ceremony in a South Bend, Indiana, cemetery after their murdered bodies had been strangely “hoarded” for over 16 years by Dr. Ulrich Klopfer. Klopfer performed abortions at clinics in the cities of South Bend, Gary, and Fort Wayne. He performed tens of thousands of abortions over 40 years. After Klopfer died in September 2019, at the age of 79, his family found medically preserved aborted remains while going through his belongings in his Will County home. Human remains were stacked floor to ceiling in his garage. They even found five plastic bags and one box containing 165 fetal remains in the trunk of his late 1990s Mercedes Benz.
From news accounts, the nation’s shock and outrage seemed to be over the strange hoarding of these remains throughout the years rather than the murders which took place.
Standing in the Southlawn Cemetery in South Bend and presiding over the burial ceremony, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said, “The shocking discovery was horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities. Regrettably, there is no shortage of depravity in our world today, including due regard for the most vulnerable among us.”
Obviously, news agencies saw this as newsworthy. National Public Radio reported on the story. CNN told us of the mass burial. NBC carried the story. The event was covered by the South Bend Tribune. USA Today ran the headline, “‘Horrifying’: Mass burial held for 2,411 fetal remains found in abortion doctor’s home.”
Mass burial of aborted human beings have occurred before. In the 1980s, about 16,500 were buried at a Los Angeles cemetery after being discovered in a cargo container repossessed from a medical laboratory operator’s home. Out in California, a headstone reads: “In memory of the 16,500 precious unborn, buried here, Oct. 6, 1985.”
The wisdom of repugnance
So, today, why is this considered news? Why would a newspaper like USA Today call this “horrifying?” Many words come to my mind as I think about this whole situation—macabre, gruesome, horrendous, terrifying, shocking, repulsive, abhorrent, sickening.
A few years ago, a term—the yuck factor—emerged within the bioethics industry. This term described the universal impulse of moral disgust that comes naturally to human beings. Leon Kass, once a philosopher at the University of Chicago and the chair of the president’s commission on bioethics during the President George W. Bush administration, called the yuck factor the wisdom of repugnance.
All of us find this story repugnant. But our repugnance should not be simply over the outrageous way these human remains were hoarded, but over the fact these 2,411 remains were 2,411 remains of human beings. Aborted between 2000–2003, these human beings, if they were not murdered, would have been between 17 and 20 years old. Some of them might have come to college where I teach in Jackson, Tennessee. Some of them might have sat in my classroom. Some of them might have stayed in Jackson, gotten jobs here, and raised their families here.
Keep in mind that this story is not just about a weird doctor who strangely hoarded fetuses. It’s about the reality of 2,411 human beings whose lives were unjustly taken. The dignity of these human beings has now been recognized as the bodies of these people were buried with a memorial service.
Since 1973, over 61 million human lives have been killed by abortion in America. The Indiana attorney general described the hoarding of 2,411 human remains “horrifying to anyone with normal sensibilities.” Over 61 million murders is horrifying. In fact, let us remember that the murder of merely one human being is nothing less than horrifying.
This article originally appeared here.