God Love Abby Johnson!

Here she is on the Gosnell verdict, responding to the weirdness of prolifers who indulge bloodthirsty death penalty rhetoric in the name of him who died to give us his mercy:

I took my own children’s lives…twice. Not because I was coerced. Not because I didn’t know better. But because I thought children would be an inconvenience to my lifestyle. I am responsible for their deaths…no one else.

So when someone talks about Gosnell and says things like, “murderers and people like him don’t deserve to breathe the same air as I do,” or “I hope he burns in hell,” it hurts a little. Because that was me. But I am still here…breathing that same air…and trying to spend my life righting my wrongs. And it’s not just me. I know they hurt others like me, as well. People who have left the abortion industry and will work every day to recover from their sins. People who are still in the industry and think they will be shunned by the pro-life movement…maybe they would reach out to us if they knew we would accept them. I am always terrified that clinic workers will see some of the words from prolifers. I have been told by several former workers that they will NEVER come forward with their stories because they are so scared of how they will be treated by us…by US…the supposed “Christian” movement. Their fears are real AND legitimate.

Precisely. The clinic worker you want to lie to, the one you tempt into another murder for the delectation of your audience watching on hidden cameras, the person you speculate about shooting in cold blood as you imagine you would if you had a shot at Hitler, the one you clamor to see wriggling at the end of a rope? For some reason, that person is not inclined to buy it when Christian prolifers talk about the love and mercy of God. The more such language and behavior is displayed by prolifers who just want a quick fix and an easy and violent resolution to this problem, the fewer Abby Johnsons you will see. Indeed, without a measure of security and support from healthy Christians, there’s no guarantee that even converts will stick around such an environment. If the sacrament of Christ’s grace, the Church, is full of people clamoring for death and damnation of sinners, where is there left for them to turn?

Abby has the right idea. Support And Then There Were None. This battle will be won by love and mercy, not by punishment, death, temptation, lies, and vengefulness.

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  • jpaYMCA

    Unfortunately, as usual, you pigeon-hole your opponents. Anyone who “favours” the death penalty in Gosnell’s case must be “blood-thirsty”. God please save the internet from such rhetoric, you who willed the destruction of entire cities as a warning of the murderous effects of sin on our souls.
    Many, many people have thought and continue to think – with the Magisterium’s permission – that the death penalty is salutary, too, both for the potential penitent and for the ordered tranquility of the murderer’s neighbours.

    • Dan C

      You may think all you want about the glory of the Death Penalty, but you shame the Church when you claim this is what God wants. The Magisterium gives BARE permission to debate the topic, but stops short of saying the debate provides license to act, and by example of two not-at-all-liberal popes, has indicated that executions in the US should cease.

    • Debra

      I don’t know. I won’t negatively judge every person who believes the death penalty is in some cases justified… But seriously? I’ve read plenty of comments in the last two days that can be characterized as nothing other than blood thirsty. Things like “snip his spine like he did those babies. Make sure he’s awake for it.” “May he burn in Hell.” And “hang him publicly for all to see. He deserves it.” Frankly, it is a frightening commentary on our society. Then someone claims its not about vengeance but justice. Yeah. Right.

    • Andy

      The death penalty is about revenge, not about justice. Killing a murderer does not bring those he or she killed satisfaction. The Magisterium barely supports the death penalty and then only when there are no alternatives. Revenge takes from each who favors it a bit of their life – it reduces each of those who favor it to being less the follower of Jesus. As repugnant as Gosnell’s actions were, the death penalty does not remove that stain.

      As Debra below notes many of the comments I have seen about Gosnell reflect only hatred, and Jesus taught us to love our enemies. It strikes me as strange that those who claim to be pro-life so easily want to end the life of another living human, regardless of his actions.

      Putting Gosnell to death removes him from the possibility of conversion and repentance. It removes him from the opportunity to reflect and perhaps become a truer child of God again.

      • The Deuce

        I don’t really see how the death penalty removes from Gosnell the possibility of conversion and repentance. In fact, historically, one of the Church’s main supports for the death penalty (which it cannot abandon without contradicting its own doctrine) was precisely that the penalty would spur the condemned towards repentance. Facing the ultimate earthly judgement drives home the gravity of your crimes, such that they can only be paid for with death, and focuses the mind on the even more ultimate death you will be facing for those crimes in the next life if you don’t repent first.

        I worry that too much softness on this issue both primarily results from, and further reinforces, the breakdown in the belief in moral culpability and the gravity of sin, and actually drives people away from repentance in favor of therapeutic feel-goodism to deal with their guilt. In this particular case, I fear it drives home the message that what Gosnell did isn’t *really* quite murder, but something less serious and less deserving of punishment.

        • Andy

          I don’t see it as softness – I see it as trying to follow the magisterium. The magisterium teaches that the death penalty is to be used only when there are no other means. – there are other means for Gosnell.
          It is my belief that killing a person removes that person from conversion and repentance. I see both as being intertwined. It may not be theologically correct – but to truly repent requires a conversion – a conversion of thought, a conversion of soul and a conversion of heart. THis change can happen quickly, and I know that all things are possible with God, but we should not put God on our timeline.
          AS far as “feel-goodism” to deal with guilt – I suspect that is a phase that folks go through. When we commit a heinous crime or not so heinous we look first to see how we were lead into it or how it is not our fault. It takes time to work through that.

          • Stu

            A case can be made the having a set date for your death, focuses you on the Last Things and helps such a conversion. Timothy McVeigh comes to mind.

            • chezami

              TImothy McVeigh died impenitent, so far as we can tell. Meanwhile, the logic, “Let us threaten people with death to get them to repent” is not watertight evangelical wisdom in our Tradition.

              • Stu

                I don’t believe I called it “watertight.” I simply stated that a case can be made and that belief is not counter to the Faith. Further, you characterized it as “Let us threaten people with death….” That’s not my position. So drop that strawman.

                Making the case that life in prison will give the offender time to repent is no more compelling than the position I have stated. And that really is my point. God can work in both situations.

                As to Timothy McVeigh, I believe there is plenty of reason to hope.


                • Stu


                  Unrepentant, we were told, to the end.

                  Until the day he died. Then, things changed.

                  Prison Warden Harley Lappin offered Tim a Catholic priest. According to McVeigh’s lawyer Robert Nigh, Tim said he would consider it.

                  Nigh said after a 15-minute final meeting with his client during which they discussed whether McVeigh, a self-described agnostic, would see a priest and receive the final sacraments of the Catholic faith, McVeigh agreed.

                  Strapped to a gurney, McVeigh asked to see a priest.

                  The Bureau of Prisons says McVeigh received the sacrament called the Anointing of the Sick by an unidentified prison chaplain.

                  That sacrament includes a confession and absolution of sins.

                  Did McVeigh confess?

                  “I think it speaks for itself,” Nigh said.


        • Newp Ort

          Darn soft wimps like Old Bleedin’ Heart Benedict and his feel-goodism. Heck, who’s a guy gotta kill to get permission to kill somebody around here!?

  • jmt

    yes, and john the baptist should have served tea & crimpets……on a silver platter

    • Newp Ort

      Um, I don’t get it.
      and what’s a crimpet?

      • chezami

        It’s a crumpet for sarcastic illiterates.

        • Newp Ort

          I don’t remember john the baptist killing anybody. is not killing those guilty of horrific crimes too nice, like john didn’t nicely ask people to repent?

          maybe a crimpet is some kind of desert cricket. the guy ate almost nothing but locusts.

  • Mike

    Once again sweeping generalizations by lumping “prolifers” as one homogenous group accusing ALL of them as showing no mercy and engaging in hateful and revengeful attacks is close to calumny. I’m sure some “prolifers” have engaged in this behavior and their individual speech and action is wrong. But to slam prolifers in such a generalized manner is wrong. I would say there are many more “Abby Johnson’s” out there then those who claim title to being “prolife” but who act and speak in a manner far removed.

    • ivan_the_mad

      You fail to comprehend. The relative clause in “prolifers who indulge bloodthirsty death penalty rhetoric” clearly indicates a subset of prolifers, hardly a sweeping generalization of the same.

    • chezami

      Um, no. Abby Johnson *is* a prolifer. What is under discussion here are those prolifers who, weirdly, love the death penalty. Lots don’t.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Sure, maybe it is “some” pro-lifers. But the problem is that, for example in a crowd of several hundred people, it is always the minority that shouts the loudest that gets heard the most, and I do not mean “heard” as “listened to” but “heard” as being so noisy they drown out most of the the more reasonable others, and they can easily be those that are mostly heard, because they are so loud, by outsiders who are wondering whether or not to join a group.

  • tedseeber

    I’ve been arguing against the Death Penalty for Gosnell since the trial started. I am very glad he finally came to his senses, realized he wasn’t the Albert Schweitzer of poor neighborhood Philadelphia, and took the plea agreement.

  • Paul Druce

    One would hope you give similar such opprobrium to those who express similar joys in the poor conditions of incarceration. There are unvirtuous persons on all sides of the death penalty debate.

    Quite frankly, I’m not a fan of the Abby Johnson piece. It implies too heavily that there should be no punishment at all for abortionists and that repentance removes the necessity of punishment.

  • vox borealis

    A wonderful and powerful piece, with which I have two quibbles:

    1. I am responsible for their deaths…no one else. Well, I disagree. Yes, she is responsible for the deaths of the children she aborted—what horrible shame that must have brought, and breaks my heart—but so too were the people who helped her do it, namely the doctor who did the deed.

    2.I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can call Kermit Gosnell a former and REPENTANT abortion provider. As am I, but it seems to me that is largely independent of whether he would have received the death penalty or should have received a death penalty. The death penalty does not preclude conversion, which is what Abby Roads’ piece seems to imply.

    That said, I agree win the main with her arguments, and to be sure the blood lust of some pro-lifers (note the qualifier) in calling for summary execution is a little disturbing.

  • PalaceGuard

    ” The clinic worker you want to lie to, the one you tempt into another murder for the delectation of your audience watching on hidden cameras…” Likewise, I am saddened and perplexed by those who cry, about Gosnell, “Put him in General Population and let the prisoners take care of him”. True, those already in prison, barring the occasional wrongly-convicted innocent, are not Nice People, but to gloatingly wish that they would sin further by inflicting pain or death on anyone is, to use an old-fashioned word, evil.

    • Gary Keith Chesterton

      Of course that is because we do not love prisoners. We do not love them and we do not care what happens to them. Yet they bear the very face of Jesus.