What’s so bad about Kermit Gosnell?


Is this not what you wanted?

Kermit Gosnell

Kermit Gosnell.

On Friday, the social media campaign to bring attention to the Gosnell trial sparked a flood of outrage against the late-term abortionist. Even many of those who identify as pro-choice expressed disgust over Gosnell’s actions. This puzzles me.

The fact of the matter is that Kermit Gosnell is not very extraordinary.

Consider the testimony from the trial which shocked the nation:

  • Gosnell decapitated hundreds of babies with scissors after they were born.
  • Gosnell kept pieces of the babies in jars as souvenirs.
  • A nurse witnessed a baby screaming during such a procedure.

Now, it is true that what Gosnell did is technically illegal in America. Despite the efforts of Barack Obama and Planned Parenthood, abortion doctors are not supposed to kill babies outside their mothers. However, there is absolutely nothing illegal or unusual about decapitating babies or cutting off their hands and feet. Furthermore, while the nurses and doctors cannot usually hear them screaming, there is nothing unusual about babies writhing and struggling during these procedures.

Consider this testimony by abortion doctor Martin Haskell concerning a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion, the typical late-term procedure:

Let’s just say…we left the leg in the uterus just to dismember it. Well, we’d probably have to dismember it at several different levels because we don’t have firm control over it, so we would attack the lower part of the lower extremity first, remove, you know, possibly a foot, then the lower leg at the knee and then finally we get to the hip. And typically when the abortion procedure is started we typically know that the fetus is still alive because either we can feel it move as we’re making our initial grasps or if we’re using some ultrasound visualization when we actually see a heartbeat as we’re starting the procedure. It’s not unusual at the start of D&E procedures that a limb is acquired first…prior to anything having been done that would have caused the fetal demise.

In his medical textbook Abortion Practice, abortion doctor Warren Hern further describes this procedure:

The procedure changes significantly at 21 weeks because the fetal tissues become much more cohesive and difficult to dismember. This problem is accentuated by the fact that the fetal pelvis may be as much as 5cm in width. The calvaria [head] is no longer the principal problem; it can be collapsed. Other structures, such as the pelvis, present more difficulty…A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus.

 Dr. Haskell also emphasized the difficulty of this procedure during an interview in Cincinnati Medicine:

D&E’s, the procedure typically used for later abortions, have always been somewhat problematic because of the toughness and development of the fetal tissues.…I just kept doing D&E’s because that was what I was comfortable with, up until 24 weeks. But they were very tough. Sometimes it was a 45-minute operation.

Is this really better than what Gosnell did? How is an agonizing, 45-minute-long dismemberment better than a quick snip?

If you really believe that late-term abortion is a victory for women, and if you really believe that laws which ban late-term abortions are a violation of reproductive rights, then you should like Dr. Gosnell. Maybe his clinic was a little too dirty, but aside from these janitorial concerns, he was a hero for freedom and choice.

All in all, the blustering moral outrage from American voters rings a little hollow, to say the least. In two straight elections, Barack Obama was voted into office – this being a man who has stridently fought to keep late-term abortion legal before, during, and after birth. (Click here if you do not believe me.)

You asked for it. Twice. Is this not what you wanted?

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