In case you haven’t heard—and before Friday, you probably hadn’t heard, even though the story is weeks old—a Dr. Kermit Gosnell is on trial in Philadelphia for murder. He’s charged with 8 counts of murder: one third-degree count and 7 of the premeditated, first-degree variety. Sadly, what makes the case stand out is not that he is charged with multiple murders, but that the 7 premeditated counts are for killing newborn babies.
Rather than reporting on the trial itself, most of the recent media coverage has been about the lack of media coverage. And while that does raise some interesting questions about why it was not considered newsworthy, or how the media decides which stories to cover, there is a deeper question that I have not seen discussed. Namely: should Dr. Gosnell even be charged with murder?
Abortion vs. Murder
Dr. Gosnell had an abortion practice. The 7 babies in the case were the result of “botched abortions,” which are more commonly referred to as “births.” Each baby was born alive as a result of the abortion attempt, which is pretty much the opposite of what was intended. The goal of an abortion is to prevent a live birth, not cause it. So, according to testimony, Dr. Gosnell then completed the abortion by taking each living, breathing, crying baby and (graphic content warning) using scissors to cut through the spinal cord in the back of the neck.
As horrific as that is, Gosnell’s logic was pretty sound. He was getting paid to kill babies, and most of the time was successful at doing so within the womb (or by causing the babies to be born before they could survive outside it). According to most of society, that is perfectly acceptable, to the point of providing public funding for it and staunchly defending the “right” to do it. So what’s the difference, really, in doing the same thing with the baby outside the womb? It’s the same exact baby, simply moved a few inches, and with the killing delayed a few minutes.
Gosnell has probably killed thousands of such babies over a decades-long career. But he is not on trial for any of those thousands. Even if he were, the worst they could charge him with for those thousands of successful abortions is that many were done later in the pregnancy than the 6-month legal limit. But that’s not a murder charge. That’s not a capital punishment or life-behind-bars type of crime. Yet by doing the same thing to those 7 while they were outside the mother’s body, he gets 7 charges of first-degree murder.
A Matter of Choice
That’s just hugely inconsistent. Cutting up a live baby inside the mother’s body is no less horrific than doing so outside the woman’s body a few seconds later. It is fundamentally the same thing, and should carry essentially the same punishment—or lack thereof.
Should Dr. Gosnell be on trial for murder? I would say absolutely he should, and hopefully you agree. But we need to answer the question of why our country holds him accountable for only 7 of those deaths. Is it just because the other deaths are hidden, visible only to the doctor, and therefore easier for us to ignore? Or, if you think it is OK to kill a baby just before birth, then why wouldn’t you be just fine with what Dr. Gosnell did to those babies moments after their birth?
If you have been part of an abortion yourself, listen closely: God loves you. We don’t have to be OK with murder in order to justify our own actions, because God forgives fully. He even offers full forgiveness to Kermit Gosnell. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. Thankfully, we have One.
God desires to take your story and make it beautiful by helping others. Share your story, pursue healing from it, and use it to offer others hope and courage. I have seen God use people’s courage to confess this particular sin in incredible ways to help others in the prison of shame. Be free.
Just don’t deceive yourself that it is some victimless choice. For an excellent video on the topic, check out the “180” documentary. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.