On Kermit Gosnell and Facing Human Evil

On Kermit Gosnell and Facing Human Evil April 14, 2013

Warsaw Ghetto (public domain)
Warsaw Ghetto (public domain)

He killed newborn babies—babies who had survived the abortion and were already outside the womb, living—by severing their spinal cords with scissors.

Or he cut their necks.

He perforated the wombs and bowels of mothers with infected instruments, and in two cases caused their deaths.

He took pictures of genitalia, and—for what purpose the story in the Daily Caller doesn’t say—saved the severed feet of aborted babies.

He, according to the Grand Jury report, allowed his clinic to “reek of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely.” There is more:

Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment—such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff—were generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains.

His toilets were clogged with aborted remains.

In the Daily Caller story, there are these two curious statements. First:

Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on [t]here. But no one put a stop to it. … The alleged malpractice at Gosnell’s clinic apparently went ignored by for years by state agencies … despite numerous complaints.

And second:

Gosnell’s “medical practice” was not set up to treat or help patients. His aim was not to give women control over their bodies and their lives. He was not serving his community.



Evil is not a word we are meant to use. It is not politically correct. It has the smell of wild-eyed judgmentalism and religious supermania about it. Outrage, we might say. Or, shocking. Or, tragic. Or, OMG!!!!!

But not: evil.


Or we might—as the secular, left-wing media has done—ignore the story altogether. Why? The first, and most obvious, reason that comes to mind is that they don’t want any negative attention focused upon the practice of abortion; their judgment and their humanity being colored by their politics.

The less-often-talked-about reason, though, has to do with that most inconvenient word “evil.” There are those who cower from the very idea the same way they cower from the humanity of an unborn child. And they don’t want to talk about this story, because how can you talk about it without also talking about the ugly reality of human evil? How can you talk about this story without being forced to admit the reality that you are running away from; namely, that there is a moral law, that it is objective, and that it flows from the very nature of who God is.

Good and evil are determined by the reality and the nature of God Himself, who created us and stamps each one of us with His image—from the just-fertilized egg to the patient in the nursing home with Alzheimer’s who can’t feed himself anymore and does nothing but stare and giggle and sleep. And without that God—the God who created us and defines the Good—we no longer have our humanity left.

That is what we don’t want to face.

But we must. T.S. Eliot once said, “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Rather, I think, humankind cannot bear very much denial.

When I was in high school, a history teacher—the day before we were to begin studying the Holocaust—asked all his students to bring in a telephone book and drop it off first thing in the morning. When his classes met, there was a huge stack of hundreds of phone books in the front of the room.

He explained the visual prop: “Imagine all the people represented by all the names in all those phone books. That’s how many people Hitler killed.”

Counting Jews alone, Hitler killed about six million. According to statistics provided by Life Site News, counting the United States alone, and only since Roe v. Wade, abortion has claimed the lives—as of November 2012—of 55 million. My history teacher would have needed nine times as many phone books.

Many students asked, during that unit on the Holocaust, how people could allow it to happen and remain silent and not try to stop it.

I don’t know the answer to that question. But don’t blame only the Germans in the 1930s and 1940s. Look into your own heart. Examine your own conscience.

What amazes me about the two statements I quoted above is what they reveal about the attitude toward abortion among the general population, outside the context of pro-life activism. There seems to be a suggestion that authorities did not want to look into Mr. Gosnell’s practice when complaints were made, because of pressures being brought to bear to keep things related to abortion hush-hush. There is also the suggestion that, as long as certain standards are followed—of procedure, of cleanliness, of the training of staff—then abortion is all well and good if its purpose is to help communities and give women choice over their bodies. Mr. Gosnell was just this wild exception, because he was in it for money.


Look, I understand that many women are young, and their boyfriend got them in trouble, and they’re scared, and they don’t know what to do. But the politicians and pressure groups and doctors who make abortion possible are in it for no other reason than the profit. And for the profit they stand to make, they exploit women who are young, and whose boyfriend got them in trouble, and are scared, and don’t know what to do.

By what standard do you say, Go ahead and murder the baby, as long as you do it inside the womb and you clean up after yourself?

The Kermit Gosnell story should have us all asking these questions. Mr. Gosnell merely exposes the evil of all abortion. It doesn’t matter whether you sever the baby’s spinal cord inside the womb or outside the womb. It doesn’t matter whether you throw the remains in the toilet or a crematory or the ground [1].

It were better that a millstone were cast around your neck and you were drowned in the depths of the sea, than that you should offend one of these little ones.



God’s justice is sure and fearsome. If Sodom and Gomorrah had seen the things that we have seen, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes.

But there is another truth: The same God who died to save every single one of the babies murdered by abortion, also died to save Kermit Gosnell.

In these cases, God’s mercy is harder to endure than God’s justice.

But God’s mercy is dependent upon a condition.

Kermit Gosnell must face the reality of human evil and his own participation in it. He must repent.

Thus may God have mercy on Kermit Gosnell.




1. Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic posted this story today offering 14—count ’em—theories as to why the Gosnell story has not received more media attention. That’s a lot of theories. But I noted that not one of the fourteen involves a reluctance to talk about the reality of evil. To me, that suggests that even those who are talking about it, even those who are angry that the MSM has not been talking about this story, aren’t themselves focused on this story’s connection to the topic of Evil.

Here’s one of the few, from CNA News.

There may be more to say about this. …

2. Thomas McDonald at God and the Machine has some thoughts on “the witness of mercy.”



[1] Jeannie DeAngelis at American Thinker has more about this here: “the always-predictible left will likely argue that henceforth, legalized killing must be carried out in cheery, hygienic, government-regulated facilities. Then stricter mandates can be put into place to ensure that properly trained abortionists have mastered the fine art of ensuring that mothers live and the babies destined for the biohazard bag emerge dead from the womb as intended.” In that day to come, we can be certain that we won’t have to know of evil because a white pall of blithe and sterilized unknowingness will be draped over it.


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