The Audacity of Evil:
 Lessons from the Gosnell Conviction

Douglas W. Phillips | May 14, 2013

Yesterday, Physician Kermit Gosnell was convicted of first degree murder for the killing of three babies born alive in a Philadelphia abortion clinic. After more than five weeks of testimony and thirteen days of deliberation, the jury unanimously found him guilty on three counts of murder, as well as involuntary manslaughter in the death of a female patient who had an abortion. The decision is sending shock waves around the world, but what are some of the lessons that American Christians should remember at this time?

  1. Justice Was Not Served: Physician Gosnell has murdered perhaps tens of thousands of human beings in his career. He was convicted for killing three. Where is the justice for the numerous other nameless babies who were brutally murdered? Jesus makes it clear that those who fundamentally harm children have committed an unimaginably wicked act (Matthew 18:6).
  2. Every Abortion Clinic in America Is a Shop of Horrors: Reports and images from Gosnell’s abortuary included evidence of an abortion-surviving baby swimming in a toilet and body parts of dead babies in glass jars. Planned Parenthood spin doctors want you to believe that this case was really about proper health procedures and regulations. Introducing better sanitation and hygiene measures in an abortuary is like providing Nazi SS officers with disinfectant cleanser to prevent the spread of disease while operating gas chambers. As Jennifer Mason of Personhood America aptly explained: “Abortion providers nationwide kill babies every single day using similar methods, including dismemberment, stabbing, suctioning, and severing of spinal cords. All abortion clinics are extremely dangerous, and all of them kill living babies.”
  3. Seeing Is Believing: The two most effective arguments which Planned Parenthood operatives have employed for the last century have been (1) fear-mongering and (2) obfuscation of evidence. In the case of the former, they have argued for abortion rights on the basis of fears concerning health, safety, expense, and quality of life related issues. In the case of the latter, they have tried to sanitize the process of cutting little human beings to pieces by keeping images related to the practice of vivisecting babies from the general public. For a long time, the Gosnell case was largely ignored by the pro-abortion press, which understood the volatile nature of exposing the public to abortion clinics where crying babies have their necks cut by scissors and their body parts placed in glass jars. More than 70 members of the United States House of Representatives petitioned the media to cover the case. In the end, it made headlines, but only briefly. Like those Germans who lived next to concentration camps like Auschwitz and Dachau and refused to confront the evil taking place in their back yards, many Americans prefer ignorance to the graphic horror of the American holocaust. There is a time to look evil in the eye, and this is the time. The Gosnell case will only be a victory for the pro-life cause if we insist that the atrocities his case has revealed are not fundamentally different than the atrocities taking place down the street of mainstream America in community abortion factories.
  4. Gosnell’s Actions, Attitude, and Worldview Are Consistent: A defiant and unrepentant Gosnell sneered after the reading of his guilty verdict. Apparently, to Gosnell, the decision was hypocritical. After all, how could he be convicted for doing essentially what thousands of other abortion providers do daily? And is there really any moral difference between taking the life of a baby a few seconds after it leaves the womb, and killing it a few seconds inside the womb? We agree with Gosnell — there is no moral difference. Finally, once the premise is established that a parent can take the life of an unwanted child, what possible objection can be raised with integrity to the idea of performing the act ex utero? In point of fact, Planned Parenthood is now on record supporting the killing of babies born alive!
  5. Abortion Is Always Wrong; Christians Must Stop Compromising: Like the world, many Christians operate on the basis of theology by emotion. When something looks really disgusting, we oppose it. When we are not forced to look evil in the eye, we become pragmatic. Similarly, when ethical issues are confusing, too often Christians jettison sound principle and allow conclusions to be driven by fear. The jurors in the Gosnell case were forced to hear and listen to gruesome testimony. But how many of them would have felt equally repulsed by the thousands of other dismemberments and vivisections of humans that this physician performed on living babies who happened to be inside their mother’s womb? We cannot know for sure. But I am doubtful the response would have been the same. More to the point, are Christians willing to stand against all abortion — 100%, no exceptions? Or are we going to continue to carve out exceptions for those cases where it just does not seem so gruesome — such as rape, incest, or the health of the mother? Until we are willing to say that it is never acceptable to deliberately kill an innocent life, we have no true moral standing to conclude that we have a principled objection to men like Gosnell. The issue is neither sanitation of the procedures nor whether the killing occurs in utero or ex utero. The issue is neither the circumstances of birth, nor the quality of life of the baby, nor the cost of medical care, nor the perceived health risks to the mother. The only issue is whether man has the right under the revealed law of God to self-consciously take the life of an unborn baby. The answer to that question is: He does not.