In (Very Limited) Defense of Kermit Gosnell

by Ed Whelan

Kudos to Democratic political commentator (and former Clinton administration official) Kirsten Powers for her USA Today column condemning the “disgrace” of the “deafening silence” of the media on the horrific “headline-worthy testimony” in the murder trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell. As Powers points out:

[W]hether Gosnell was killing the infants one second after they left the womb instead of partially inside or completely inside the womb — as in a routine late-term abortion — is merely a matter of geography. That one is murder and the other is a legal procedure is morally irreconcilable.

Gosnell is consistent in regarding in utero babies and ex utero newborns as of equal moral worth—and consistently wrong in believing that, with the nicety of the consent of the baby’s mother, he may kill them. It is those people who support our broader abortion culture, but who draw an arbitrary line at birth, who are morally schizophrenic. (Yes, I realize that perhaps we should be a tad thankful for their schizophrenia, for many or most of them, if forced to be consistent, might well opt for Gosnell’s consistency. After all, isn’t opposition to infanticide ultimately rooted in religious convictions about the inherent dignity of every human life?)

There’s much more on the Corner on this very revealing episode, including Shannen Coffin’s “Kermit Gosnell Is Not an Outlier” and Jonah Goldberg’s opening excerpt from the grand-jury report, the first paragraph of which I reproduce here:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.

Update: Read, if you dare to, this powerful Atlantic piece by Conor Friedersdorf, “Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story.”

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