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?