Dr. Kermit Gosnell is a Philidelphia-based abortion provider who stands accused of murdering seven newborn babies and one adult in his septic, vermin infested clinic. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Capital punishment in Pennsylvania is a two step process: the condemned is first stabbed through the back of his neck with a pair of scissors, whereupon his spinal column is severed. Oh, I‘m sorry, I got my facts confused– I just described how Dr. Gosnell murdered his young victims. The state of Pennsylvania (or any other state) would be precluded from executing people this way by the Eighth Amendment, as it prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” This prohibition has led the Supreme Court to place significant limits on how and why convicts may be put to death. In Wilkerson v. Utah, the Court declared that “punishments of torture,” such as disembowelment or burning at the stake, were constitutionally impermissible.
While these practices may be too gruesome to inflict on convicted murderers, they are par for the course when it comes to killing fetuses. In much of North America, stabbing, dismembering, or burning an unborn baby with saline all remain perfectly legal. Indeed, if Dr. Gosnell had simply paid more attention to basic hygiene, relocated to a state with slightly laxer laws, and (most importantly) killed his victims while they were still completely inside their mothers, he would probably still be in business today. Helping him operate would be two important myths that the abortion industry depends on.
The first is that “terminating a pregnancy” is a benign procedure. Analogous, perhaps, to terminating a non-responsive Windows program, termination certainly doesn’t end a life or inflict suffering on “the pregnancy.” Former Vermont governor, medical doctor, and primal scream enthusiast Howard Dean implied as much when, in 2004, he stated that, “No doctor is going to do an abortion on a live fetus. That doesn’t happen. Doctors don’t do that. If they do, they’ll get their license pulled, as well they should.” This is a curious statement. According to the National Abortion Federation, most abortions take place during the first trimester. However, the Mayo Clinic’s online pregnancy guide indicates that near the end of the first trimester, a fetus has developed a heartbeat and brain activity–two things typically seen in live individuals. Adding to the confusion are the words of former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, who has described what she saw while assisting with an ultra-sound guided abortion. In her 2011 book, Unplanned, she wrote of watching a monitor and seeing a 13 week-old fetus struggle and kick while being pulled apart. Since struggles, kicks, and heartbeats are usually considered to be signs of life, it would appear that Dr. Dean employs a unique lexicon in which the words “abortion,” “live,” and “fetus” carry denotative meanings at considerable variance from those that they are commonly understood to hold. Well, either that, or I guess he could have just been lying.
The second element of chicanery involves the concept of choice: according to some, unexpectedly pregnant women simply don’t have it. Referring to his daughters during a campaign speech, then Senator Obama remarked, “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” To be fair, Obama was talking about contraception. However, when discussing his opposition to the federal partial birth abortion ban (“part of a concerted effort to roll back the hard-won rights of American women”), the president suggested that the only way for a woman to escape the “punishment” of an unsupported pregnancy or having to raise an unwanted child is through abortion. In other words, paying someone to kill her baby in a manner similar to what is typically portrayed in an Eli Roth film is her only realistic course of action. Left unsaid is that there is a network of organizations known as crisis pregnancy centers (you can find one in your area to donate to or volunteer with online), who seek to help women through difficult circumstances. Also concealed is the present shortage of healthy infants available for adoption. Keeping this information obscure is an important way that the champions of “choice” convince women that they’re options are limited.
Even if he is sentenced to die, Dr. Gosnell will meet a far more humane end than his young victims could have hoped for. But no matter what the outcome is for him, we cannot allow it to remain business as usual for his colleagues and their political helpers.