Right now there is lots of rejoicing about the fact that Dr. Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty on three counts of first degree murder. And I understand the joy in one sense. For those hoping to one day see the government act to protect life in the womb, this feels like some vindication.
But recognize this: this coverage of this trial was not about babies killed inside the womb. The talk has all been about the infants who were killed outside the womb.1 That is why he will go to jail for the rest of his life or to death row. That being true, the effect of this case on those children inside the womb is very minimal. If Gosnell had the means to snip the spinal cords much earlier while the babies were still in the womb, he would never have been charged with anything.
Pro-choice agencies are even rejoicing at this verdict. They are already putting out statements that suggest that such a case means that more dollars should be devoted to making sure abortion is a safe and effective procedure. They understand that standing against Gosnell does not hurt their case precisely because these murders occurred outside the womb. They understand that while this case involved an abortion doctor, it did not really address abortion at all.
Some pro-life agencies are rejoicing and saying that what happened in Gosnell agency is what is happening in abortion agencies all over. I understand that there is some evidence that children born alive in botched abortions are killed sometimes in other clinics. But most people will see a discernable difference between Gosnell’s clinic and the local suburban Planned Parenthood. Gosnell’s clinic was from any perspective exceptionally bad.
Perhaps these pro-life agencies just mean that murder occurs in all clinics simply because abortions are done there. With that I would agree. However, it can easily sound like they are simply trying to move the emotions of people and suggest to them that they should be against abortions just because sometimes those involved get out of control and do things even most pro-choice advocates would admit were awful. We cannot argue from the exception, which Gosnell was in so many ways.
We must remain firm and speak precisely while the media is talking abortion. Our issue is not that occasionally abortions go wrong and that children are then brutally murdered outside the womb. Our issue is that regularly abortions go right and children are brutally murdered inside the womb.
I am glad a murderer was found guilty. But many murderers practice their sterile craft every day. Even on this day. My joy is far from complete.
- He also was found guilty of performing 21 abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy at his clinic, which served mostly low-income women in a largely black community. It is legal in Pennsylvania to abort a fetus only up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. [↩]