April 14, 2013

On Kermit Gosnell and Facing Human Evil

Kermit Gosnell (NBC10.com · Daralene Jones)

Ker­mit Gos­nell (NBC10.com · Dar­a­lene Jones)



E 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.



VIL 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.

There is an objec­tive moral law that flows from the nature of who God is

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.

Lager Nordhausen concentration camp · Buchenwald, April 1945 · Harry S Truman Library

Lager Nord­hausen con­cen­tra­tion camp · Buchen­wald, April 1945 · Harry S Tru­man Library


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.


The abor­tion indus­try exploits women

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.



OD’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.

Gibson / Icon Productions, 25 February 2004

Gib­son / Icon Pro­duc­tions, 25 Feb­ru­ary 2004


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.



Update: 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. …

Update 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.