Saturday, April 13, 2013


One of the big stories going through the blogosphere and other internet phenomena is the trial of Kermit Gosnell. The number of links I could give is excessive, so I won't even try. He is an abortion doctor who provided very late-term abortions, long past the point where it was legal, to low-income women in Philadelphia. But "abortion" is really a misnomer: Gosnell would induce labor, deliver the babies and then kill them. Even Roe vs. Wade says that once a baby is outside the mother's body, it is a distinct human being which has the right to life, and so all efforts must be made to preserve its life at that point. This makes Gosnell one of the most successful serial killers in human history. As further proof, he kept "trophies" of all the babies he killed; they found jars filled with baby feet.

What's sad is that our society provided him a forum where he could carry out his killings without danger of being caught. Abortion is one of the most controversial issues around; you can almost hear the minds snapping shut, on both sides of the aisle, whenever it's brought up. Part of our shared morality is that the most helpless members of our community deserve protection, and we generally view the killing of children as even more horrific than the killing of adults. Pro-life people (like myself) claim that this applies to the unborn, while pro-choice people do not. But by saying that it's OK to kill those who have not yet been born and who would not be able to survive outside the womb we are blurring the distinction of when someone becomes a human being, and this blurring blunts our empathy for infants: a few years ago I was speaking with a friend about this, and he said it was patently obvious that newborns aren't really people. (My friend is not on the political left incidentally.) The whole process of pregnancy is one of gradual development, so picking any particular point as qualifying when the baby "becomes human" is arbitrary. This is one of the motives for those of us who say that one's humanity begins at conception, since this is a particular event and not a process. Of course, there are counter-arguments and counter-counter-arguments which I won't go into here.

Another issue is that the mainstream media, left and right, wasn't really covering the Gosnell story (although they're beginning to now). Some justified this by saying it was just a local story, but of course, all such stories begin as local stories. As one person put it, if an anti-abortion activist had killed Gosnell, you can bet that that would get wall-to-wall around-the-clock coverage in the media, even though it would equally be a local story. But the media, in this case, reflects our culture: newborns, especially unwanted newborns, don't really qualify as people, so it's not  a significant story. But if we see them, instead, as children, as the most helpless members of our society and the human race, then we see the acts of Kermit Gosnell as beyond horrific; as an indictment on our culture; as a desire to kill those who are inconvenient for us; as -- to put it bluntly -- evil.

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