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Gosnell: A Murderer, but an Aberration?



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It is a good thing that the Philadelphia jury convicted Kermit Gosnell of murder, because it is in fact clear that he committed murder. For the jury to have done otherwise, given the graphic, detailed, and not-meaningfully-contested evidence, would have been a gross and depressing injustice. It would have delivered a huge blow to the rule of law in the City of Brotherly Love if the members of the jury had allowed themselves to be distracted or confused by Gosnell’s lawyers’ overheated attempts at obfuscation, by baseless charges of “racism” and “elitism,” or by a distortionary dedication to an extreme version of the pro-abortion cause.

It will be tempting to “move on.” But the temptation should be resisted. Gosnell did horrible things to women and still-living babies, and laughed about it, and it would be comforting to many of us if he were a Hannibal Lecter–type aberration. And, of course, in many ways, he is. Yet his ability to reduce unborn and “unwanted” children to objects, whose pain and death were material for jokes, differs more in degree than in kind from the dignity-denying premises underlying our abortion laws generally. We should take more time to think, and worry about, this fact.

— Richard Garnett is a professor of law and associate dean at Notre Dame Law School.



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