The XX Factor

Kermit Gosnell Is a Monster of His Own Making

Yesterday you suggested not jumping to conclusions about murder charges against Kermit Gosnell for the deaths of seven babies that were born alive and then killed. Well, the grand jury report is out and it’s safe to say it’s not just reactionary pro-life propaganda. It recounts dozens (I’m quoting conservatively) of instances where Gosnell or someone in his office allegedly ended the life of a baby born alive.  There is a photo of a baby with a gaping, bloody wound in the back of his neck.

From the grand jury report: “He was breathing and moving when Dr. Gosnell severed his spine and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal.  The doctor joked that this baby was so big he could ‘walk me to the bus stop.’  Another, Baby Boy B, whose body was found at the clinic frozen in a one-gallon spring-water bottle, was at least 28 weeks of gestational age when he was killed.  Baby C was moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an assistant came in and cut the spinal cord, just the way she had seen Gosnell do it so many times.  And these were not even the worst cases .” (emphasis mine)

The next time someone argues that a fetus is just a clump of cells, they should have to look at the photographs of the dead babies or read the accounts of viable babies who were born alive and then had their lives snuffed out.

I’m sorry, but blaming the pro-life movement for Kermit Gonsell makes about as much sense as blaming the Tea Party for Jared Loughner.  If there were only more abortion clinics (how many would be enough? Should they be as ubiquitous as Starbucks?); if only it weren’t for that nasty Hyde Amendment (because it’s fair that families who face a heartbreaking struggle to conceive or spend tens of thousands of dollars to adopt should also have to have their tax dollars paying for someone else to have an abortion?).

Gosnell did business in a city that has several abortion clinics, at least one of which offers financial assistance, in a state that offers no-cost birth control (AND emergency contraception) to women who meet income requirements.  You wrote that “If you’re seeking an abortion but can’t afford it, going to a doctor who provides substandard care on the cheap is certainly going to be an attractive option.” But the grand jury report shows that Gosnell was anything but cheap. A first-trimester abortion can cost anywhere from $350 to $950 at Planned Parenthood .  Gosnell was charging $2,500 or more for late-term abortions.

There actually is an opportunity here for the two sides in the abortion debate to find common ground.  You’ll never be able to convince a pro-lifer that monsters like Gosnell are a sign that we need more abortion clinics. But you might be able to make them see that we should be handing out birth control like candy, so that unwanted pregnancies happen in the first place. But you can’t get there by blaming anyone besides Gosnell.