Roger L. Simon

GosnellGate: It's the A-Word

Conor Friedersdorf has written an excellent article in the Atlantic on the extraordinary case of 72-year-old abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell titled, “Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story.”

For those who have missed it — and given Friedersdorf’s title apparently many have — Gosnell is a doctor who regularly performed late-term abortions that verged on, or really crossed the line into, infanticide in a veritable grand guignol of a mad abortionist meets Krafft-Ebing.

You can read the gruesome details in Friedersdof’s column, but here’s a taste:

Charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Dr. Gosnell is now standing trial in a Philadelphia courtroom. An NBC affiliate’s coverage includes testimony as grisly as you’d expect. “An unlicensed medical school graduate delivered graphic testimony about the chaos at a Philadelphia clinic where he helped perform late-term abortions,” the channel reports. “Stephen Massof described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, ‘literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.’ He testified that at times, when women were given medicine to speed up their deliveries, ‘it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.'”

Yes, there are photos, if you care to look at them.  I don’t.

Friedersdorf gets to the crux of his article at the end when he asks why our normally scandal-hungry mainstream media has not covered this repellent but obviously newsworthy story.  He suggests it may have something to do with the fact that Dr. Gosnell is African American and was, allegedly, discriminatory toward his patients of color, treating them even worse than his Caucasian patients (a distinction without a difference, perhaps, in this case, since everyone was treated some degree of horrifically).  He also mentions that several government agencies are possibly culpable here, having not exercised proper oversight over a medical clinic perpetrating flagrant butchery under the most unsanitary conditions for decades.

These explanations may have had some minor validity, I don’t know, but Friedersdorf touches only briefly on what I am almost certain is the real reason this story is being given short shrift.

The trial of Dr. Gosnell is a potential time bomb exploding in the conventional liberal narrative on abortion itself.  This is about the A-word.

No feeling human being can read this story or watch it on TV without being confronted with the obvious conclusion — like it or not — that abortion is murder.

It may be murder with extenuating circumstances (rape, survival of the mother, etc.) but it is murder nonetheless.  Dr. Gosnell — monster though he is — has accidentally shoved that uncomfortable truth in our faces.

Pushing this case front and center in the media would change the national narrative on this subject.  (The current stats are here, via Rasmussen.)

I can give you two guinea pigs to prove this point — my wife Sheryl and me.  We were in the kitchen last night, preparing dinner, when we saw a short report of this story on the countertop TV.

Both lifelong “pro-choice” people, after watching only seconds, we embarked in an immediate discussion of whether it was time to reconsider that view.  (Didn’t human life really begin at the moment of conception?  What other time?) Neither of us was comfortable as a “pro-choice” advocate in the face of these horrifying revelations.  How could we be?

Yes, Dr. Gosnell was exceptional (thank God for that!), but a dead fetus was a dead fetus, even if incinerated in some supposedly humane fashion rather than left crying out in blind agony on the operating room floor, as was reportedly the case with one of Gosnell’s victims. I say blind because this second-trimester fetus did not yet have fully formed eyes. (Think about that one.)

So I don’t think I’m “pro-choice” anymore, but I’m not really “pro-life” either.  I would feel like a hypocrite. I don’t want to pretend to ideals I have serious doubts I would be able to uphold in a real-world situation.  If a woman in my family, or a close friend, were (Heaven forbid) impregnated through rape, I would undoubtedly support her right to abortion.  I might even advocate it.  I also have no idea how I would react if confronted by having to make a choice between the life of a fetus and his/her mother.  Just the thought makes my head spin.

Anyone who he thinks he knows how he would respond in these situations — and hasn’t — is doing nothing but posturing.

But I do know this: when it comes to social issues, I am more libertarian than ever.  I want the government out of our private lives as much, if not more, than I want it out of our financial lives.  And that’s a lot.

I trust people to make the right decisions on these personal matters for themselves, if they are allowed to have the proper information. The Gosnell case is an example where they were not.  The mainstream-media reactionaries (my favorite synonym for liberals, these days) did not want the public to see.  Indeed, they were too frightened to see themselves; too afraid their conventional wisdom would shatter.  What cowards.

Only Kirsten Powers on the left (if that’s what she is) has had the guts to confront this atrocity and demand it be reported. For that she deserves great praise. She has far more courage than I do, advocating for it here, because she brooks the rejection of her peers.

Of course it is those peers who should be hanging their heads in shame.  They have brought GosnellGate on themselves.

Also read: Pro-Life Supporters to Blame for Gosnell, Says Salon Writer