WARNING: Some of the information presented in this article is graphic and not recommended for children.
I confess that the level of public outrage and vitriol that’s recently surfaced regarding the Kermit Gosnell trial confuses me. If you haven’t caught the story in the news, Gosnell, a 72-year-old unlicensed abortion doctor who practiced in Philadelphia for more than 20 years, has been charged in the deaths of a patient and at least seven babies who were born alive and then murdered. You can find more details about the case here, or just do a quick online search for “Kermit Gosnell.”
Gosnell’s clinic was shut down in May 2010, and his criminal trial began on March 18, 2013. Yet in the last few days, numerous calls and challenges have been made to mainstream media outlets asking them to cover this story. While the media has remained relatively silent so far, coverage of the case has picked up tremendous momentum online, and efforts to get nationwide coverage appear to be working. Several mainstream news outlets are now promising to cover the story.
I applaud the news organizations that are calling for broader coverage. And I also applaud the national media for beginning their reports on the gruesome events in Philly. The details of the case are incredibly graphic, including testimony that the spinal cords of those seven newborns were cut (essentially decapitating them). According to the 2011 Grand Jury Report, the clinic was unkempt, the doctor was cruel, and the number of illegal abortions performed was considerable. It’s obvious that Gosnell’s “House of Horrors,” as the Grand Jury Report dubbed this abortion clinic, was a place of evil where innocent blood flowed with disturbing regularity.
I’m scratching my head, however, as I try to comprehend why this particular case is drawing so much emotion and vehemence from the public.
There are two reasons why I’m confused:
1. This is not the first case involving illegal abortions, murder, or the death of a pregnant woman. Life Dynamics keeps an updated log of women who’ve died or been murderedas a result of botched legal abortions or related complications. The log is named “The Blackmun Wall” after the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the Roe v. Wade decision back in 1973, Harry Blackmun. During the 40 years since then, more than 340 women have died as a result of an abortion.
Here is just one example from the Life Dynamics site (panel #29 of The Blackmun Wall):
On the morning of February 28, 2002, this 25-year-old woman went to her local Los Angeles Planned Parenthood clinic to have an 18-week abortion. Immediately following the D&E procedure, she began bleeding very heavily. She was taken by ambulance to USC Women’s and Children’s Hospital where an emergency hysterectomy was performed to stop the hemorrhaging that was caused by a tear in her cervix. Unfortunately, their efforts were unsuccessful. Diana was pronounced dead exactly three hours after her abortion began at the Kingston Avenue clinic. She is survived by a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. (Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, Autopsy Report # 2002-01721)
So while the Gosnell case is certainly gruesome and grotesque, similar events have occurred more than eight times per year, on average, for the past 40 years.
Please don’t misunderstand me. The death of Karnamaya Mongar (the 41-year-old woman who perished while getting an abortion at Gosnell’s clinic in 2009) is a terrible tragedy. However, this certainly isn’t the first time a woman has died from a botched abortion. Why haven’t Americans been this outraged by the plight of the previous 340+ women who’ve died? How about the court-documented cases of women being raped in abortion clinics?
I’m not claiming that every abortion clinic in America is responsible for the death of a mother. However, these sad events in Philly are nothing new. Why is America starting to pay attention now?
2. The reports I’ve seen continue to talk about the killing of babies who weren’t successfully aborted and were therefore born alive. The descriptions of these deaths are unspeakable. But do we really think the murder of seven newborn babies is somehow more morally repugnant than if they’d been aborted five minutes earlier while they were still inside their mothers’ wombs? How about a month before birth? Six months? Eight months?
Allow me to remind you of the methods used in surgical abortions. (The information that follows is quoted from LifeSiteNews.)
At Eight Weeks:
This is the most common method of abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. General or local anesthesia is given to the mother and her cervix is quickly dilated. A suction curette (hollow tube with a knife-edged tip) is inserted into the womb. This instrument is then connected to a vacuum machine by a transparent tube. The vacuum suction, 29 times more powerful than a household vacuum cleaner, tears the fetus and placenta into small pieces, which are sucked through the tube into a bottle and discarded.
Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
This method is similar to the suction method with the added insertion of a hook shaped knife (curette) which cuts the baby into pieces. The pieces are scraped out through the cervix and discarded.
At Eighteen Weeks:
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E)
This method is used up to 18 weeks’ gestation. Instead of the loop-shaped knife used in D&C abortions, a pair of forceps is inserted into the womb to grasp part of the fetus. The teeth of the forceps twist and tear the bones of the unborn child. This process is repeated until the fetus is totally dismembered and removed. Usually the spine must be snapped and the skull crushed in order to remove them.
Used after 16 weeks (four months) when enough fluid has accumulated. A long needle injects a strong salt solution through the mother’s abdomen into the baby’s sac. The baby swallows this fluid and is poisoned by it. It also acts as a corrosive, burning off the outer layer of skin. It normally takes somewhat over an hour for the baby to die from this. Within 24 hours, labor will usually set in and the mother will give birth to a dead or dying baby.
At Six Months:
This form of abortion uses chemicals developed by the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Co. which cause the uterus to contract intensely, pushing out the developing baby. The contractions are more violent than normal, natural contractions, so the unborn baby is frequently killed by them—some have even been decapitated. Many, however, have also been born alive.
C-Section or Hysterectomy
Used mainly in the last three months of pregnancy, the womb is entered by surgery through the wall of the abdomen. The technique is similar to a Cesarean delivery, except that the umbilical cord is usually cut while the baby is still in the womb, thus cutting off his oxygen supply and causing him to suffocate. Sometimes the baby is removed alive and simply left in a corner to die of neglect or exposure.
To summarize: surgical abortions consist of death by knives, vacuums, poisons, constriction, or suffocation.
We are outraged to learn that Gosnell allegedly cut the spinal cords of newborns to end their lives. Yet one could argue that this method was more merciful than burning a child alive, crushing her to death in the womb, or dismembering her limb from limb.
If we are to be consistent in our condemnation of the events that took place in Philly, then we cannot pick and choose when we’ll be horrified.
I certainly hope the case in Pennsylvania effectively stirs the American people to call abortion into question. Alas, I fear we’ll focus only on the poor dead mother and the seven babies who were born alive and then murdered. Yet Americans should be just as appalled by the hundreds of unknown mothers who’ve lost their lives to abortion. Our nation as a whole should shake in fury at the diabolical methods that are used every day to abort a child.
Indeed, the “House of Horrors” has legally existed for 40 years. And it’s called the womb.