Opinion

Thirteen graves leave an enduring legacy

They are there.

Thirteen graves. A number associated in foolish lore as being unlucky. No identity is provided for any of them. Only a small percentage of Missourians know they even exist and virtually nothing is ever written or said about “the 13.”

Such indignity is not what you would normally think about anyone buried among such luminaries as Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams and Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom and forced our nation to fulfill its aspirations of freedom and equality for all.

All of them are just around the corner from Frenchie’s Quality Cleaners where North Kingshighway Boulevard expires, becoming a dead end as it succumbs to West Florissant Avenue in St. Louis. Make a safe turn right onto West Florissant and there is St. Louis’ historic Calvary Cemetery. Sherman, Williams and Scott are among the approximately 300,000 gravesites that occupy part of the 470 acres owned by the Catholic Church (not everyone buried there, for example Sherman, was Catholic.)

There is where “the 13” are as well. Like a band of brothers, they form a unique memorial. They did not know one another and no other earthlings – but their mothers – knew them. Unlike everyone else buried at Calvary, there are no names on the headstones of “the 13.”

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No birth dates are displayed because they were not allowed to be born. They were denied the basic right of “life,” much less any liberty and their pursuit of happiness. Their consolation prize was not being dumped into one of Washington Universities’ cloning test tubes.

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The gravesite of “the 13” is the only one of its kind in Missouri. Nationally, there are only 52 such sites, puny tributes for a nation that has killed more than 50 million babies since 1973. Most remains are dumped into medical disposal facilities. Others are sold to “Frankenstein” laboratories for “research,” taking human trafficking to a whole new level. How can we expect America to have a conscience when it has lost its mind?

Give Gov. Mike Parson and the Missouri General Assembly credit for passing the strongest pro-life legislation ever passed by a state during its 2019 session. While implementation – for parts of it – is delayed by federal court challenges, some of it has become law. In addition, the state is enforcing higher standards on abortion clinics to protect the health of Missouri mothers. It is not unreasonable to demand abortion clinics meet the same standards required of all Missouri health facilities.

The abortionists have failed miserably. Due to their own cruel incompetence, the abortion industry has only one abortion clinic left in Missouri and it could face closure if it does not meet state health standards.

Nationally, abortions are declining, but the number of women traveling out of state to get an abortion rose slightly, according to analysis by the Associated Press. Missouri women represented nearly half the abortions performed in neighboring Kansas (47 percent in 2017). Illinois saw its percentage of abortions for non-residents more than double to 16.5 percent in 2017. That is being driven in large part by women from Missouri, who travel to the grossly misnamed Hope Clinic in Granite City, Ill., about 10 miles from St. Louis. It has experienced a 30 percent increase in patients this year, according to the Associated Press. About 55 percent of those patients come from Missouri.

“I have been insistent in telling my pro-life colleagues that’s all well and good if the last abortion clinic shuts down, but it’s no victory if women end up driving 10 minutes across the river to Granite City, Illinois, or to Fairview Heights,” said my friend, Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri.

Sam is right. So what should we do? Get your church involved. Connect with one of the growing number of Pregnancy Resource Centers around the state. Encourage your elected officials to keep passing pro-life legislation. Help pregnant mothers and those with newborns. Pray and educate yourself. One way to do that is to participate in pro-life events.

Which brings us back to “the 13.” There is nothing we can do for them but honor their memory. The best way to do that is to use them a motivation to work harder to end the killing. On Sept. 14, at 10:45 a.m., at Calvary Cemetery, the annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children will be observed. People will gather around the gravesites of “the 13” to offer prayers for our nation and for the killing to stop. Such events should be a regular part of our pro-life witness.

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I want to thank everyone for your prayers and many acts of kindness during my recent illness. I am doing better and appreciate your continued prayers.



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