Gosnell Trial, Long Ignored by the Media, a Potential Game Changer


(photo: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

The gruesome details of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial are beginning to soak into the minds of Americans who read the belated news reports on the trial of the Pennsylvania doctor who performed late-term abortions.

Gosnell is charged with murder, in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies prosecutors say survived late-term abortions. As one column noted this week, the facts of the case are so grisly that an online fact-checking site was forced to confirm that the murders actually happened.

Any person who examines the Gosnell case understands that this has the potential to be a game changer for the way much of the culture views abortion in America. The Gosnell case is one that can awaken the consciences of Americans who have never fully examined the humanity of the unborn child since Roe v. Wade.

After the media began to report on the story, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, criticized pro-lifers and blamed them for the Gosnell murders. Indeed, she claimed that overregulation of the abortion industry is the reason that an abortionist was able to kill one woman and dozens of babies outside of the womb.

Yes, NARAL and its allies have the audacity to claim that overregulation was the reason that Gosnell was able to operate an abortion business with unsanitary equipment, bloody counter surfaces, parts of unborn children clogging up toilets and the necks of born-alive babies being “snipped” by unqualified staff members.

I have an alternative theory to NARAL’s “overregulation” defense. Perhaps the atrocities of Gosnell’s house of horrors happened because society does not embrace the “culture of life” that pro-lifers strive for. Perhaps Gosnell and others were desensitized to killing a baby outside of the womb because doing the same thing inside the womb is legally protected and culturally normal.

After all, the snipping of a fully formed baby’s neck inside of the womb is a “safe and legal” medical procedure. It is only when the child is outside of the womb that the procedure becomes a potentially capital criminal offense. If Gosnell had simply snipped the children’s necks five minutes earlier than he did, the law would protect him rather than demand his prosecution.

This is why the Gosnell case can be a game changer for the American conscience: Because decent people shudder at the notion of a baby’s neck being “snipped” on an operating table, they are forced to realize that the same disturbing procedure is legal when performed inside the womb. It is not the brutality with which Gosnell operated that made his actions illegal; it is merely the age of his victims.

Therein lies the collapse of the pro-choice argument. We look upon the dead baby girl on the operating table, and our hearts break. We look upon her lifeless little body and think, “She deserved better.”

This heartbreaking sentiment should cause each of us to consider the following question: “When did this baby girl start deserving better?”

Was it when her mother could start to feel her kicking feet? Was it when she could begin feeling pain? Was it when her heart started beating during the first trimester? Or when her unique, individual DNA was formed at conception?

And when we look upon this lifeless body, we don’t care what took her life. We don’t care if saline solution burned her to death, if a vacuum evacuated her from the womb or if Gosnell’s “snippers” ended her life. We simply think, “She deserved better.”

For years, this reality has evaded the consciences of most Americans. To many people, these questions have gone unanswered because they haven’t even been considered. Instead, the abortion debate has revolved around sloganeering and political bull.

The Gosnell trial forces us to finally face the difficult questions that stir our souls. When we reach the answers to these questions, the abortion debate in America will be fundamentally transformed.

Chris Crawford is a junior majoring in political science at George Washington University

and is the director of the campus pro-life ministry.