Why we need to talk about Kermit Gosnell


When I read the guilty verdict for Philadelphia “doctor” Kermit Gosnell, I felt an overwhelming satisfaction followed immediately by sadness. The stories surrounding this man have been sickening and wretched, so horrific in nature that reading an article about his practices caused a visceral reaction of rage and sorrow.

You want to know the measure of a monster? Look no further than Kermit Gosnell.

There has been a lot of online chatter about the silence of the mainstream media during the Gosnell trial. If a reporter’s mantra is “If it bleeds, it leads,” then why weren’t they covering this story?

There are a couple of reasons why I think the mainstream media ignored this story. First, as Kristen Howerton points out, this story wasn’t new. Gosnell was first arrested in 2011 and the news of his arrest broke then on most major news stations then. So technically, in the world of broadcast journalism, this could have been deemed old news and old news is no news, right?

I don’t agree, but I see the argument.

I think a larger part of the reason this story was largely ignored is because it cannot be covered without addressing the pressing inconsistencies in the defense of abortion.

No one, including the staunchest of abortion supporters, will deny that Kermit Gosnell’s practices were ugly, brutal, terrifying and wickedly wrong. Even Planned Parenthood, one of the largest performers of abortion in the country, issued a statement celebrating Gosnell’s guilty verdict.

But why? What is it about Gosnell’s practices that differentiate him from other doctors who perform abortions? Why were those three infants considered more valuable than the thousands of children that are aborted in utero?

Is it because the three infants that he was convicted of murdering actually breathed oxygen on their own rather than being supplied oxygen through their mother’s placenta? Is that all that sets them apart? There is a serious problem with that logic, because if we deem someone who doesn’t breathe oxygen on their own as incompatible with life, then what about the countless people who are on a ventilator?

I speak of this topic frankly, but please hear my heart. If you are a woman who has chosen abortion in the past, I hold no judgement in my heart for the decision that you made. I cannot imagine the fear and pain that accompanies the decision to have an abortion and I offer nothing but a deep felt sympathy for the experience you may have had.

That said, this topic cannot be laid to rest and we need to continue to educate and fight not for a woman’s right to choose, but for a child’s right to live. Pope John Paul II once said that “a society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying.”

Gosnell’s conviction is good because it defends the weakest – infants whose spines were snipped with scissors and who died slowly and painfully in the hands of a monster. My heart aches for the mothers whose lives will forever be haunted by the practices of Kermit Gosnell – women who thought they had no other option and who were led astray by a wicked, evil man.

I am a believer in a woman’s right to choose, however, I believe that we need more education so that a woman will choose life rather than choosing abortion. There are so many studies on the emotional and physical effects of abortion. We cannot believe that such a choice will be free of lasting consequences. Women must have a better understanding of these long term psychological effects.

There is no more vulnerable among us than the unborn. We can try to separate the consequences of abortion by labeling a child in utero a “fetus,” but it does not change the scientific nature of the little lives lost. The only thing that separates an infant in utero from an infant outside the womb is the ability to breathe oxygen unassisted. Even at ten weeks in utero, all a child’s bodily functions are developed. Could the child survive outside the womb? No. But that cannot be a justification.

This topic is so difficult and for some of you it stirs up painful memories and emotions. I do not for a second think that choosing abortion was easy or comfortable and I’m so sorry for those of you who must live with the pain of that choice. My heart physically aches at the thought.

But we cannot give up or ignore this topic because the most vulnerable of our society are at stake. While Kermit Gosnell’s practices were sick and awful, the outcome of what he accomplished is no different from those who perform abortions in utero. We need to talk about this and we need to be quick to offer pregnant women who feel trapped in their circumstances different options.

Because I believe in the right for a woman to choose – I just believe that she, and her unborn child, will be better off in the long run if she chooses life.

(And before we spiral down a rabbit trail, let me just acknowledge that there are circumstances when abortion seems to be the only option. I had a friend who suffered an ectopic pregnancy and chose to have the child surgically removed from her fallopian tube because not to do so could have killed both her and the child – a gut wrenching and difficult choice. This topic is hard, trust me, I know that it is. But we can’t brush it under the rug with broad generalizations and defenses built on quick sand.)


Thoughts? How are we doing as a society?


  1. Tiffany says

    I believe in fighting for a child’s right to live. I think too often American’s have used the politically correct ideology of a woman’s “right” to choose as a scapegoat though. We don’t want to appear to be against women’s rights (especially as women!) or we don’t want to appear to be hateful. I think it’s ok and even right to be a voice for babies, for those who cannot speak. It’s a touchy subject and to say there aren’t gray areas would be a lie (for example your friend who had the ectopic pregnancy). I’d like more than anything though, to start hearing from families who are awaiting a baby. When can we start talking about adoption? What about some creative strategies? What about incentives for women who choose life? Wouldn’t it say something about us as a people if THAT was the message we chanted and fought for? Sigh…it makes me sad.

    • I love that, Tiff. I love the idea of offering incentives for women who choose life. And you’re right, we need education and dialogue minus the rhetoric. There is no more selfless act than a woman who chooses to give her child a chance by placing the baby for adoption. Birth mothers deserve much more credit for the choice they made. Lets hail that woman’s choice. It is such a sad, sad issue and the defenses for abortion or so weak. I just want to open up more dialogue on solutions to this serious problem.

  2. The subject of abortion is complex and difficult to clarify (if clarification is possible) in this short response. So, in order to make clear my confusion with the subject, I offer some questions. I only wish I knew answers that I felt/knew are correct. 🙁
    1) When does life begin (when is a baby a baby)?
    2) When does a “potential life” reach a point where abortion shouldn’t be allowed?
    3) If one person thinks life begins at (A) and another person thinks life begins at (B), which person is correct and why?
    4) Does the commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” apply to everything we kill?
    5) Is masturbation a form of abortion?

    • I agree that it is complex, Ron. I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability based on my worldview:
      1.) I do believe that life begins at conception. I believe at that moment all that is necessary to build and sustain life is available.
      2.) I struggle with using the terminology “allowed” when speaking of abortion. I do believe that should abortion be made illegal, it would still occur, but the conditions would be far less safe. I fear that were abortion illegal, there would be many more clinics like Gosnell’s and that is a terrible thing. That said, I think women should be supported in pregnancy, particularly low income women, with prenatal care, counseling and the help needed to allow them to carry the baby to term and either place the baby for adoption if they feel unable to parent, or continued to support to raise the child should they desire to do so. Under zero circumstances, however, should late term abortion ever be legal. Ever.
      3.) there is no real answer to this, but I think we should rely more on science. Though an eight week old “fetus” is not compatible with life outside the womb, scientifically the child has all that’s needed to sustain life if simply given the time to mature and develop. Prochoice advocates try to skew science in the opposite direction, but it is so terribly inconsistent. Again, if the only think separating a fetus from a child is the ability to breathe oxygen unassisted, then we have a lot of problems on our hand.
      4.) I don’t think Thou Shall Not Kill applies to everything. God gave us animals to kill and eat. In the Old Testament the animals were used as burnt offerings in praise of Him. I believe that commandment applies between mankind and the Bible offers overwhelming support to this theory. I also believe that the only reason cockroaches are on this Earth are for the pleasure of killing them. 😉
      5.) No masturbation is not a form of abortion because a sperm alone cannot sustain or develop life. If we were to label it as such, we would have to then assume that every month a woman experiences a menstrual cycle would be deemed a spontaneous abortion, but we know this isn’t the case. A fertilized egg is the beginning of conception and the beginning of life.

      Thanks Ron!

  3. alisha says

    Human DNA is present AT CONCEPTION. The ‘choice’ women have is to choose what they will do sexually with their bodies. (instances of abortion in the case of rape are minuscule in comparison to that for convenience/a kind of after the fact birth control.) After they have allowed a human to begin growing, they are now making ‘choices’ for 2 people, which is why if you murder a pregnant woman, its a DOUBLE homocide. Why in the world is this? What if that woman was on the way to the abortion clinic when she was murdered? Does the mother ‘wanting’ her baby to be born alive give it value??

    And Kelli, you read my mind with
    ‘Is it because the three infants that he was convicted of murdering actually breathed oxygen on their own rather than being supplied oxygen through their mother’s placenta? Is that all that sets them apart?”

    I mean to be honest, besides the law that says if the baby is born alive you must then help it live, why would those who support women’s right to choose be up in arms about this??? I mean really, he’s just finishing the job she paid him to do, right? whats so awful about snipping the spine? 2 minutes earlier he was doing the same job inside the body? Either abortion is murder or its not. Breathing oxygen doesn’t make it murder.

    One more thing, in the interest of healthy debate;) Kelli, i think its a slippery slope to justify abortion being legal on the basis of how awful clinics would be without legalization. What if we said, ‘lets legalize the molestation of children because that way there wouldn’t be so much stigma and secrecy and it wouldn’t have to be done in dark bedrooms. And think of the tax payer dollars it would save to legalize it, all those cops responding to calls about molestation, all those prison cells filled with molestors, all of the millions of dollars in court cases etc.’

    If its wrong, its wrong. And what kind of society are we if we wink at it?

    • Great points, Alisha and very well stated. I see your point about the issue with legalization, however, I don’t really think it is a battle worth fighting because I don’t think it’s a battle we can win. Abortion will always be legal no matter how much we hate it or disagree with it. Perhaps some people feel strongly about opposing the legislation that makes abortion legal and if they want to fight it, so be it. but I don’t see the effectiveness of such a fight. So what CAN we do in response if we believe in the sanctity of life and a child’s right to live?

      I think this is where it is necessary to focus our energy on educating women about the long lasting negative effects of abortion. The emotional trauma of aborting a child is mountains greater n a woman than the emotional trauma of carrying an unwanted child and placing it for adoption. So how can we help and support women who are in this position? Continued education on abstinence and healthy sexual practices are a step. More clinics offering free or low cost prenatal care for those who cannot afford it would help as well as post birth help and counseling when they either place the baby or decide to parent.

      It’s not simple and it’s not easy. If I could choose, I would prefer that abortion be illegal and criminal, but it wouldn’t solve the issue. Women would still abort there babies so what can we do to help women who have the right to choose make the right choice?

  4. alisha says

    I see your point in that it is very unlikely that roe v wade is ever reversed, and i tend to agree that you will save more babies by educating women than fighting for legislation, but i still think there’s a place for those who feel called to fight on the legislative level, just doesn’t seem right for none of us to be opposing laws that annihilate our unborn.

    thanks for being willing to talk about this difficult subject. i think the silver lining of this case is it will hopefully bring abortion to light in a different way around the kitchen table. i heard reports that at least one juror went in prochoice and left prolife.

    • I agree, Alisha. This opens up a bit of a can of worms for those who are staunchly Pro-Choice. It is good to see people talking and trying to work out better solutions, though I fear the public rhetoric will likely change little.

  5. Spring says

    I feel your pain. It breaks my heart to think of all the children who are murdered in the name of “choice”. IMO, the “choice” is made when a woman makes choices about her sex life. I do concede that there are instances when an abortion is medically necessary (like in cases of incest and your friend with the ectopic pregnancy), but I wish more women would choose to put their baby up for adoption.

    Did you see this article when it was going around? I think she makes some very good points.

    • Spring thank you so much for sharing that! I hope everyone who visits these comments clicks on that article. It was so well written!

  6. Thank you for writing this article and thank you to Spring for the link. Good Stuff!!