The Atlantic: Gosnell Horror Has Nothing To Do With Abortion.

In part of an effort to explain why the general non-coverage of the Kermit Gosnell trial is totes okay, Dashiell Bennett, writing at The Atlantic, insists that what Gosnell did has nothing to do with abortion. No, really:

Gosnell isn’t on trial for conducting abortions. He’s on trial precisely because what he did went beyond all legal definitions of abortion, and into the realm of murder. (He also killed one of his adult patients, committed numerous safety and health code violations, and is charged with several drug-related crimes.) Pro-choice or pro-life, there is no question that his actions would constitute a horrific crime that should be duly punished.

Legal definitions? Bennett should note, those of us making an issue of this are not horrified because Gosnell broke the letter of the law with regard to abortion (or murder), health standards, and drug violations. We’re horrified because he was snipping just-delivered babies’ spinal cords with scissors. The filth and jars of feet and remains and drug violations are disgusting, of course, but they are not as naturally abhorrent* as snipping a live baby’s spinal cord with scissors. Can Bennett agree with that?

A baby at twelve weeks. That is a really well-defined "lump of cells," no?

A baby at twelve weeks. That is a really well-defined “lump of cells,” no?

As for the distinction between abortion and murder, I don’t think that angle helps Bennett either.

I’ll bet if you ask Gosnell he would have no misgivings about what he was doing: abortions later than the arbitrary line of the law technically allowed. Who likes to admit that they’re murdering children? Surely not someone who is merely providing a service some women desire and are willing to pay for. And whether what we was doing was, by the legal definition, murder or an abortion probably would not matter much to him—he probably realizes, rightly, that the location-based distinction (is the baby still at least partially in the birth canal?) between murder and abortion is ridiculous. Bennett does not want to admit that.

I’ll bet if you ask Barack Obama he would have some mealy-mouthed thing to say that would include a lot of “uhs,” and “let-me-be-clears,” and perhaps another “that’s above my paygrade,” but the record shows that Barack Obama, while a state senator, personally blocked the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act.” If you’re not familiar, it would mean that a baby born during a botched abortion had a right to live and could not be set aside to die. Or worse, intentionally smothered with a pillow, or have its spinal cord snipped with scissors. That means that what Gosnell did, while perhaps in a cleaner environment and done to younger babies, was protected from criminalization by Barack Obama. Bennett probably does not want to admit the connection.

I’ll bet if George Tiller were still around he would have a hard time making a real distinction between what Gosnell did and what he would do. For a refresher, Tiller made lots of money delivering babies feet first to the neck, leaving the head still in the birth canal, then stabbing them below the base of the skull, jamming a suction tube up into the child’s cranium, sucking out the contents (brains, eyes, etc.), and removing the now-crushed skull. Again, while the head of the infant was still inside the mother, how is this different from what Gosnell did? Bennett is hung up on legal definitions here.

Bennett allows that even pro-choicers think his actions constitute a “horrific crime that should be duly punished.” Why? Why this if not those? Would it have been less horrific if the place were clean and sterile and the babies were younger? Would it have been less horrific if no mothers had died and drugs were administered properly?


* Reference here.


Categories:Abortion Culture President Obama Pro-Life

  • Frances

    That is exactly the reason abortion needs to be done away with and should never have happened in the first place. Then we wouldn’t even be asking that questions … But I would not say these babies should have aggressive treatment at all costs, but palliative care that is kind and allow these babies bodies to heal if they can, and to be comforted if they can’t … but if that was what was wanted for them in the first place …. they would not have been removed from their mothers’ bodies … Dear God help us all for these crimes against the Innocent …

  • Medical Student

    I have a sincere question. I am Catholic and pro-life – although I think being Catholic makes the later qualification unnecessary.

    With regard to the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act,” I have a few questions. What age does that bill refer to? The reason I ask is because of a real ethical problem that doctors face. What is to be done with children born very very much premature. For instance children that are 22 weeks have a decent chance of surviving if aggressive treatment is given, but the children will certainly have disabilities. My question is whether or not we must try to revive and keep alive any child that is born – even children that would not survive on their own. It seems like an easy answer – of course we should, letting them die is barbaric. But when we factor in our Church’s teaching at the other end of the spectrum it gets more tough. We do not say that we must keep people alive at all costs when they are older. We have to give them food and water, but we don’t have to put them on a ventilator, dialysis, etc. So what do we do with premature children who need aggressive treatment to survive?

    • Tom Crowe

      It seems to me that the standard is whether there is a possibility of the child remaining alive on their own. No extraordinary efforts must be taken if the child is so grievously injured by the attempted abortion that it will surely die soon regardless, but if the child can be saved no level of disability that the child will live with should prevent appropriate live-saving treatment being rendered. Think also of those children born with terrible defects that assure they will not survive long outside the womb. Those defects don’t make it right to abort the child, but they also remove any moral necessity of keeping the child physically alive in perpetuity.



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