Reflections on Gosnell Verdict

Like most pro-life people who were watching the trial of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, I was relieved and satisfied that he was found guilty of three first-degree murder charges and a host of other charges relating to the massive number of laws he violated. As much as was possible, justice was done, and I pray now that the judge in this case will hand down a sentence that is appropriate to the crimes Gosnell committed.

Abortion has always been my particular cause. I was pro-life from the moment I learned what abortion was back in the 80s. The moment I really became aware of it–probably sometime in high school, I think, in the mid-1980s–I was ready to chain myself to a clinic door and picket in the streets. I wore the tiny baby feet pin on my collar and participated in at least one street protest (it was peaceful–we simply stood along a busy street holding signs that said “Abortion Kills Children”). I am opposed to abortion for scientific, ethical, moral, and legal reasons. At a minimum, it’s bad law. At a maximum, it’s this generation’s holocaust.

I recall a conversation with a friend back in the 1990s. I have always believed that the Supreme Court overstepped its bounds on Roe v. Wade and that it made very bad law, and I absolutely believe that fewer abortions would occur if abortion were illegal. His position–and it’s one that many pro-lifers share–was that the way to end abortion is by changing hearts one at a time. He did not think there was any point in pursuing legal means for stopping abortion in America. I could understand his point, in some way, although I maintain that it’s a “both/and” thing–that we should pursue both heart change on the individual level and legal change on a state and federal level.

The Gosnell trial may have just changed a whole bunch of hearts.

Which is why I found this opinion by Tamara Holder so disturbing. Holder states in her opening paragraph:

The Kermitt Gosnell verdict is hardly a victory. Out of 7 charges of first degree murder to unborn babies, Gosnell was only found guilty of three. Of one charge of third degree murder to an abortion patient, Gosnell was found guilty of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. A 38 percent (3/8) is a failing grade.

I understand what she’s saying. In reading her entire opinion, it’s obvious that she has some valid legal arguments–that testimony was given by non-medical personnel, that the original raid had to do with drugs, not abortions, etc.

But to state that the verdict is hardly a victory?

By that logic, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus, it wasn’t a victory for civil rights because despite Parks’ act of civil disobedience, segregation was still legal.

By that logic, William Wilberforce did little of value in the twenty-some years that he fought against slavery and the slave trade in Parliament. By that logic, even his success–the Slave Trade Act of 1807–wasn’t really a victory since slavery itself was still legal.

By that logic, the Boston Tea Party was just a bunch of thugs destroying tea and wasn’t any kind of victory because the American Colonies were still British subjects afterward–except that now they didn’t have any tea in Boston.

Saying that the Gosnell verdict is “hardly a victory” is . . . well, it’s jaded? Cynical?

Perhaps it’s just plain wrong.

The Gosnell trial served to expose the brutality of abortion, especially late-term abortion. The urban legend website has been forced to create a page about the abortionist. At least one reporter covering the trial changed his personal position on abortion, stating that he is now pro-life.

And, let us not forget–the verdict gets one dangerous murderer off the street. No more women have to die from a botched Gosnell abortion. No more babies have to struggle for life in a toilet at the Gosnell clinic. This man will never see the light of freedom again, most likely.

That’s a victory, Ms. Holder.

I’m reminded of the old story about the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean. An old man asks him why he’s bothering. After all, there are still hundreds of starfish on the beach, dying for lack of water. “What difference does it make?” he asks the boy.

“It makes a difference to that starfish,” the boy says.

(At least that’s the way I heard that story.)

Hardly a victory? I think not. Yes, abortion is still legal, but this is a trial and a verdict that has already changed hearts. We can only pray that changing the law is close behind.

Till next we meet . . .


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