Article written by Nate Kellum, president and chief counsel for Center for Religious Expression. He was formerly employed at the AFA Law Center.
In the spring and summer of 2013, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a well-known abortionist in Philadelphia, was tried and found guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies, involuntary manslaughter in the overdose death of a mother seeking an abortion, and over 200 violations of Pennsylvania state abortion laws. Though the mainstream media was slow to pick up on the case, the shocking revelations about Gosnell’s practice became a national story.
Americans learned how Gosnell took scissors and snipped the spines of newborns as they emerged from their mothers still alive. And many were horrified to realize that these painful killings would have been perfectly legal had they taken place in the womb. The only difference between Gosnell’s crimes and legalized abortion is roughly ten inches.
But as Gosnell went on to begin serving his sentence of life in prison without parole, and his “house of horrors” became yesterday’s news, we were left to wonder whether any lasting good would come out of this tragic story. Early indications are positive.
Signs of hope
Fortunately, the Gosnell case inspired scrutiny of other abortion doctors, exposing similarly gruesome practices that demand elimination. Dr. Douglas Karpen, who operates two abortion clinics in Houston, Texas, has been accused of many of the same atrocities found in the Gosnell clinic and is being investigated by various state authorities.
Several abortion clinics in Maryland had their licenses suspended for infractions of new standards of care, and other states are also holding abortion providers to higher standards, like having hallways wide enough to accommodate emergency personnel.
Thirteen states have banned abortions after 20 weeks, and two are fighting for the right to enforce laws banning abortions after a heartbeat is detected.
Early last year, 95 congressmen co-sponsored a bill banning elective abortions in Washington, D.C., at the point a baby is capable of feeling pain, identifying 20 weeks in the womb and even younger as falling into this category. In the wake of the Gosnell trial, the proposed legislation was broadened to go beyond the District of Columbia and apply nationwide.
This bill was eventually approved by the House of Representatives, and a companion bill is now working its way through the Senate. If the measure becomes law, the pre-born would receive landmark protection, representing the single greatest legislative accomplishment for life since Roe v Wade.
Need for action
For supporters of the right to life, these reports are encouraging, but the Gosnell story – highlighting the abortion industry and the truth about abortion – demands more, much more. While progress is being made, babies are still being slaughtered.
Too many of us who wear the “pro-life” label refrain from getting in the fray. We figure that’s not really our gift, not our thing, and besides, we know of other people engaged in the issue. But all of us can do something. We can do our part to make abortion, like state-sanctioned slavery, part of history.
The powerful 1993 movie, Schindler’s List, tells of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who viewed the Holocaust with casual indifference – that is, until he noticed a young girl in a red coat, first as she meandered her way through a crowd; and then later, as she lay dead on a cart carrying Jews for incineration. Her red coat, being the singular splash of color in the black-and-white film, stuck out to Schindler, signifying a real life, forcing him to come to grips with the horror of the Holocaust. That insight, according to the story, moved him to action.
May the memories of those butchered in Gosnell’s clinic have the same effect on us, become our red coat, and move us to action.