In Defense of Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell

Abortion is either okay or it’s not.” – Peggy Noonan

In May of 2013, after being convicted of committing a series of heinous crimes, a Pennsylvania man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This man was Kermit Gosnell. When I’ve described to friends and colleagues the crimes which Gosnell committed, I’ve often received looks of shock, and revulsion. These looks tell me that an instinctive trigger has been pulled within their consciousness, one that carries with it an understanding of what evil truly is. But I have a legitimate and serious question: is Kermit Gosnell a criminal? Are the acts he committed truly vile, or are we behaving in a hypocritical manner?

Among numerous other criminal counts which are irrelevant to this argument, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison on three counts of first degree murder. The murders were of three infants who were born alive, then subsequently terminated by Gosnell. His method of termination? Severing of the spinal cord using scissors. He was not the only one sentenced. According to Philly.com:

A medical school graduate who never obtained a license to practice medicine pleaded guilty Thursday to third-degree murder charges as part of the case against abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Steven Massof, 49, of Pittsburgh, who was known as ‘Dr. Steve’ at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, admitted responsibility in the deaths of two babies who had been born alive.

Additionally, according to Maryclaire Dale of Associated Press:

Massof testified to a grand jury that he snipped the spines of more than 100 babies after seeing them breathe, move or show other signs of life…’Severing the spinal cords of moving, breathing babies outside their mothers’ wombs was, according to Massof, ‘standard procedure’…

We react in disgust at the acts of Gosnell, Massof, and their colleagues, yet what they did—these acts that are being called evil, and criminal—are performed on a routine basis all across the country, simply in a different manner.

It wasn’t until 2003 that the partial-birth abortion ban was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Up until that point, the procedure was legal. For the uninitiated, partial-birth abortion, or “Dilation & Extraction” is a procedure performed in the second or third trimester of a pregnancy in which the legs, and torso of an infant are extracted from the birth canal, leaving only the head inside the mother. A sharp hose is inserted into the back of the skull, which is then used to suck out the brain of the infant, thus collapsing the head.

In 2003, when the bill came up for a vote in the Senate, 34 of the 100 United States Senators voted “No.” Only 64 Senators wanted to end the gruesome procedure. Two Senators did not vote.

The difference between partial-birth abortion, and what Kermit Gosnell did is little more than a matter of geography, and time.

Methods of abortion that are still legal in most states include “Dilation & Curettage,” “Dilation & Evacuation,” and “Saline Injection.”

According to Prochoice.com:

In a D&C abortion, usually performed between seven and twelve weeks of pregnancy, the doctor inserts a curette, a loop-shaped steel knife, into the womb through the dilated cervix. As the curette scrapes the wall of the uterus, the baby is cut into pieces. Bleeding can be considerable…

[dilation & evacuation] is similar to a D&C, except that forceps must be used to grasp the baby’s body because of the child’s advanced development. The baby is dismembered as the abortionist twists and tears the parts of the body and slices the placenta away from the uterus. Bleeding is profuse. Although relatively safe for the mother, the procedure is devastating to the hospital staff and many doctors refuse to do advanced D&E abortions.

[In a saline abortion] the doctor inserts a long needle through the mother’s abdomen and injects a saline solution into the sac of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. The baby is poisoned by swallowing the salt and his skin is completely burned away. It takes about an hour to kill the baby. After the child dies, the mother goes into labor and expels the dead baby. Saline injections have been outlawed in some countries because of the risks to the mother, which can include lung and kidney damage if the salt finds its way into her bloodstream. In spite of the horrible burning effect, some babies have survived ‘salting out’ and been born alive.

Doctors routinely perform these procedures all across the county, and are praised as women’s rights advocates, yet Gosnell, and his colleagues are called murderers. Why? It’s all a matter of geography, and time. Because Gosnell, and his staff terminated infants outside the womb, their actions are considered vile. However, had they been performed mere minutes before, while the infants were still in the womb, it would not have been considered criminal. In fact, it would have been celebrated as a woman’s right. That is the defining difference. Certainly, all the methods by which infants are aborted are equally gruesome, so severing the spinal cords of infants born alive isn’t any worse.

Even our President supports abortion, and infanticide, voting three times against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA), while a State Senator. According to Peter Kirsanow:

BAIPA (both the federal and Illinois state versions) on the other hand, was introduced to insure that babies who survive attempted abortions are provided the same medical care and sustenance as any other infant born alive. BAIPA was introduced after evidence was presented that babies born alive after unsuccessful abortions were simply discarded in utility closets without food, care, or medical treatment until they died…

Then State Senator Barack Obama voted against this bill, even though it was identical to the federal bill, which passed the United States Senate unanimously—even with the support of the Senators who voted “No” on the 2003 partial-birth abortion ban.

More from Peter Kirsanow:

…then senator Obama fought against the Illinois version of BAIPA that was identical in all material respects to the federal version. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama claimed that he voted against the Illinois BAIPA because it failed to contain a ‘neutrality clause’ making it clear that the bill did not affect the right to an abortion. This is false. Documents obtained by National Right to Life show that the Illinois BAIPA did, in fact, contain a neutrality clause identical to the federal version. As noted…not one U.S. senator voted against BAIPA. Even NARAL didn’t oppose it…Obama stated that one of his objections was that the bill was ‘designed to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion’…

Yes, the President of the United States—despite every shred of evidence suggesting that the state of Illinois’ version of BAIPA was identical to the federal version—voted three times against it. In essence, he supports infanticide.

Given all of this, given that 34 United States Senators had no objection to partial-birth abortion, in which a developed infant has its brain suctioned out with a sharp hose, and given that even the President of the United States is on record supporting infanticide, how is what Kermit Gosnell did a crime? How is what Kermit Gosnell did any worse than the hundreds of thousands of procedures performed at abortion clinics across this country every year? It isn’t. And if we are condemning Gosnell for murder, then we must also condemn those 34 Senators who voted to protect partial-birth abortion, and we must condemn President Obama for condoning infanticide.

If Dr. Kermit Gosnell is a murderer, then any and all individuals in positions of power who support similar abortion practices are accomplices to homicide. Murder is either wrong, or it isn’t.