Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First Do No Harm

Photograph taken during Milgram's experiment.

Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia doctor on trial for killing babies during illegal late-term abortion procedures, was found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.

Abortion is such a lightning rod issue, I almost didn’t write about Gosnell's verdict. But then I considered that regardless of one's beliefs about abortion, if collectively we can’t be horrified by these events, then collectively we are in big freakin’ trouble. Big freakin’ trouble.

I’ve included a link to a good article about the trial and Gosnell’s practice, and you can read the gruesome details on your own, if you wish. I did, but I don’t want to repeat them here.

However, there are a couple of statements I’d like to respond to.

“McMahon [Kermit’s lawyer] argued that the doctor provided desperate young women with "a solution to their problems…”

Lord have mercy. Killing children is this man’s idea of an acceptable solution to this “problem.”

“[H]e [McMahon] branded prosecutors ‘elitist’ and ‘racist’ for pursuing his client, who is black and whose patients were mostly poor minorities.”

Look. Anyone who’s read anything here knows I’m happy to speak out against racism. But this line of argument is downright offensive. If you care about people of color, or people in general, actually, but I’ll stick to the statement made, you’d have to be sickened by the way these women and babies were butchered. It’s hideous to suggest that Gosnell is blameless and only his race is at issue.

But as alarming as Gosnell’s actions were, when I consider his co-conspirators, I’m truly disturbed. Eight of Gosnell’s former employees, including his wife, have pleaded guilty to murder or other criminal charges. One of Gosnell’s employees was reported to be a teenager still in high school.

So I’m reminded of my freshman sociology classes and lectures covering Milgram's experiment about obedience to authority figures, and I wonder whether any of these people would ever have participated in crimes so heinous without the encouragement of Gosnell, and I’m sorry, I can’t help thinking this man is just evil and depraved. I don’t believe for one moment he’s an empathetic innocent doing what he could to help the hopeless. 

Phooey on that.


  1. Where lays the Guilt of the Seeker?

    The media is playing the “Dr Death” card blatantly and relentlessly concerning Dr Gosnell and his abhorrent behavior regarding his abortion clinic, not that he doesn’t deserve it. But, a doctor without a patient has no one to treat, or in this case, harm.
    I have yet to see any finger pointing at the women who came to him, pregnant, with over 24 week gestational pregnancies, seeking-with purpose- to terminate the lives of their growing babies.
    I am Pro-Choice and a nurse, I have worked in reproductive health centers and my question to Society is this: “When do we- as women and young girls of child-bearing age with healthy reproductive systems- hold ourselves accountable and seek out alternatives to unprotected sex? The science of reproductive health has brought us many choices for birth control, most available free or low cost to people in the poverty level.
    Frankly, I am tired of hearing about these “poor, minority women” who have been victimized. They are not the victim, they should be held just as accountable as Dr. Gosnell for choosing a late-term, or any term abortion for that matter, as a solution to their irresponsibility. Even in cases of a pregnancy resulting from a rape, an earlier abortion could have been performed.
    Abortion is not to be equated with birth control- which I saw in my experience working in reproductive health clinics time and time again with ‘repeat offenders’ having their third and fourth abortion. In my opinion, it is an available last resort option for someone in dire straits, not to be used frivolously as ‘a woman’s way out’ of an unwanted pregnancy that resulted from regular, casual sex,; one that she could have prevented with some forethought, education and free birth control.
    Not to single out the women only in this tragedy, men also need to be accountable, using condoms or paying for their partner’s reproductive health needs to make sure birth control is part of their lives.
    Unwanted babies have no place in this world, it results in disturbed, emotionally unbalanced children, which in turn result in broken adults- sometimes causing havoc in society.
    Wake up Society and put the real blame where it belongs! Both sides in the abortion issue need to realize that it is in that small window of opportunity prior to having sexual relationships, that both women and men need to ensure that they can have a good time, but not at the expense of human life.
    If this became the ‘norm’, doctors like Gosnell would have no need of an abortion clinic because they would have no patients. In the meantime, aren’t those women whose babies he is found guilty of murdering, just as guilty?

    1. Hi Michele. Legally, the women are not as guilty and can't be prosecuted. Morally, I'm not so sure. One could make the argument that Gosnell was the physician, and they trusted him with their care, so he's more culpable morally, or one could say "Hogwash!" to that theory.

      I could talk for days about the irresponsible messages our society sends about sex in general, but I won't. Suffice it to say that I can agree with some of your points.