Part 2: What’s So Bad About Gosnell?

Part 2: What’s So Bad About Gosnell? May 16, 2013

It’s a matter of timing, not killing. 

No one questioned that Dr Kermit Gosnell had killed a lot of babies. After all, that was his business. He killed babies for a living. And he made a killing at killing. According to some reports, Dr Gosnell made millions from killing babies.

That was never the issue. Because killing babies is not a crime. The crime is where and when you kill them. The issue, the fine point that both the defense and the prosecution wrangled over day after day for weeks, was whether or not Dr Gosnell killed the babies after they were outside their mother’s bodies, or before.

Doctors routinely chop babies up when they are inside their mother’s wombs. I could put a YouTube video right here of a doctor dismembering a baby and pulling its body parts out and tossing them in a tray. Happens all the time. Happens every day.

Every. Single. Day.

The difference is when the mother delays killing her baby until the child is big enough that it’s no longer possible to chop it up inside the womb and then extract the dismembered body a piece at a time. There comes a point where it’s difficult to get that big baby out without also delivering a living child.

Abortionists go through all sorts of medical contortions to make sure that the baby is dead when they get it out. One of their favs is to jab a needle through the mother’s abdomen and shoot poison into the little one’s beating heart. If the dosage is adequate and their aim is good, the baby dies. They can then put the mother through labor and delivery of a dead child. Ta da. Dead baby and no courtroom drama to follow.

Another practice is to induce labor with such violent contractions that the contractions kill the child as it’s being born. Not so neat. And certainly a big ouch for the mother. But another ta da. Dead baby and no need to hire a defense attorney.

There are other ways, of course. One is to shoot saline solution into the mother’s womb (again, that nasty needle through the abdomen) and scald the baby to death. Then, of course, induce labor and deliver a dead child. Ta. Da. Dead baby and no visits from the police.

Of course, things get dicey when one of these tragic potions fails and a live child comes out of the abortion process. That’s when the question of timing becomes pertinent. 

As Gosnell’s defense demonstrated, it doesn’t matter that Dr Gosnell killed children. All that matters is when he did it. Their whole defense rested on the contention that the good doctor had managed to kill each of these babies while it was still inside mama’s womb. His grisly practice of using scissors to sever their spinal cords afterwards was just a bit of — excuse the word — overkill.

They were successful enough with this defense to get several charges dismissed and to have the jury find the doc not guilty on another charge. In other words, it worked. Fortunately for justice lovers the world over, it didn’t work completely. The jury evidently decided that Dr Gosnell had not killed all the babies before getting them out. Three of them managed to survive the abortion. Killing them then made it murder. 

Five minutes before, it would have been good medicine. 

Dr Gosnell is not the first abortionist to get hung up on this quibbling technicality of when they kill the baby. Dr Kenneth Edelin and his colleague tried to abort a baby that was around 20-24 weeks back in 1973. First, his colleague used the then-standard process of injecting saline into the mother’s womb. When the baby survived that, Dr Edelin tried what is called a hysterotomy, which involves cutting the mother open and then running his finger between the baby and the placenta, severing its lifeline. In theory, the baby smothers and dies and we have another ta da. Dead baby and no legal troubles for doctor.

In this instance, prosecutors maintained that Dr Edelin failed to kill the child again. He ended up smothering it after it was born.

Instead of a ta da, Dr Edelin had to go to court, where he was convicted. His conviction was subsequently overturned, based largely on claims that the baby was “not viable” anyway.

That overturned conviction, based as it was on the question of viability, set the stage for 40 years of slaughter of late-term babies.

The prosecution achieved a first in the Gosnell case. They got a jury to acknowledge that what Dr Gosnell had been killing were human beings. A first degree murder conviction is only possible if people are killed. You can not be charged, much less convicted, of first degree murder for killing chickens or pigs or goats. First degree murder requires that a human being deliberately and with premeditation kills another human being.

That’s what Dr Gosnell was charged with and it’s what the jury convicted him of doing.

That’s a big win.

But it still begs the question: If these babies were human beings when Gosnell killed them, why were the other babies for whom charges were dismissed, not human beings?

Let’s examine this contention. The babies who were “already dead when they were born” had been killed by Dr Gosnell. Not one person disputes this. But because they were killed a few minutes earlier in their lives than the other babies, their deaths don’t matter. They are non-human thingies that anyone can kill for any reason or no reason at any time.

But, 15 minutes later, they are full-fledged human beings and killing them is premeditated, first-degree murder that is liable to earn their murderer the death penalty.

In both the case of Dr Edelin in 1973 and Dr Gosnell in 2013, the legality of using timing to determine humanity is insane. There is no logic or explanation that can make it seem sane to any thinking person. 

Yet that is the law we live by. It is the law these babies died by. 

We have made murder a “right,” and we are, every single day, reaping the whirlwind that comes from that.

So, the question arises. If it’s only a matter of timing, what’s so bad about Gosnell?

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8 responses to “Part 2: What’s So Bad About Gosnell?”

  1. The line must be drawn somewhere. Many would draw the line at conception. Many pro-choice people repeat the claim “it’s only a lump of cells”, but they keep saying it way past heartbeat, fingers with fingerprints and a lot more development.

    But for most people it’s something about the horror of Gosnell’s actions that, well I guess it doesn’t draw a line, but for the average person who maybe has never considered the ethics of abortion the shock the clear murderous intent their gut tells them it’s something terrible, evil.

    I think only the most hardcore pro-choicers would be adamant that nothing is wrong with the killing in the womb. Again, I would bet for many of them the gut (conscience?) tells them this is killing a human being brutally, legally maybe, but is it not a flimsy technicality that allows it?

    On the other end of the timeframe, to the life is at conception crowd it’s murder at one cell or one minute before a viable human being could leave the womb. But the horror of the actions inspires a rage not usually displayed over 2, 4, 8 or 16 cells.And I think the mostly unconcerned masses would not care about not a whole lotta cells.

  2. Rebecca: You write a very hard but accurate piece on the issues brought to light by Gosnell. Doe/Bolton and their progeny’s attempts to define humanity by the months of development or by location in or out of the womb have been a complete travesty, and as you well-support, defy logic. At least Peter Singer, the infamous Princeton professor and purveyor of animal rights and infanticide, honestly admits there is no difference between abortion and infanticide. Why is this so hard for people to get?

  3. So yeah that was longwinded…
    so where can you reasonably expect to draw the line? I don’t think very many would support conception and its impossible to tell for sure until what, a week? a month?

    but that horror show with Gosnell (or even a better clinic that does everything to regulations), I think most people (even a lot of pro choicers) would agree that’s way too late. If the legal difference between medicine and murder is if your doctor has the will and the skill to kill them before they manage to get out, then the law sucks.

    one of my big concerns with abortion has been I really do not like the idea that government could control what a woman can do with her own body. But I must admit I wouldn’t mind outlawing abortion at a certain point beyond viability. But if you can legally force a woman to bear a pregnancy from maybe say 8 months to birth, why not 7, or 6? Erring on the outside of the viability window might be better. And the arguments can easily slide back from there, hey if we are already in control of her body, how does it make sense that here is early enough to kill?

    crap more longwindedness with no conclusion

  4. So anyway, one last thing, the pro-life movement might be wise to not dwell on Gosnell and his crimes. This could easily lead to the conclusion that abortion is OK so long as it’s a bit earlier and nice and tidy, you know before it has viability as a news story so people have to see this awful stuff. A great many people might have a weak political stance but they basically don’t want to be involved. at some point they will get annoyed with th gosnell beating and then you’ll just be another jerk busybody hanging a giant dead fetus poster over the highway.

  5. God created life. God creates human life. At conception, God creates an innocent human life. When we kill innocent human life, we attempt to be God.

  6. Even reading some of the comments, it all comes down to the fact that once you decide to be against abortion, you just can’t help yourself. You have to take it all the way back to the moment of conception. But wait. Lets not stop there. Lets get after those people using condoms. Those sperm cells have the potential to create life too. Lets face it, anyone who wants to have sex for any purpose other than to become a parent is a sinner. Oh, except those who practice NFP. They are good.

  7. I still contend, that for me, 12 weeks is the outside limit to terminate. No dismembering (which is horrible) and absolutely no chance to survive outside the womb. I’m sure many will disagree with me, but I still believe that women have the choice whether to have a child or not (yes, I understand all the “then don’t have sex” arguments, but folks will continue to do so) if conception takes place and is unwanted. Birth control is important, but sometimes fails. If a woman can’t make up her mind in that 3 months, continue the next 6 and deliver and then keep or adopt out the baby.

  8. Thank you, Rebecca, for expressing this horror so well! Thank you for
    your courage and steadfast commitment to truth. I have re-posted both
    Part 1 and 2 on