by Brandon McGinley

Kermit Gosnell used scissors to sever the spines of human beings while they struggled for life.  And he is therefore guilty of first degree murder.  This seems straightforward enough.

And in any other case—toddlers, adolescents, adults, the elderly—it would be straightforward.  But with the tiniest, most vulnerable members of the human family, in the face of overwhelming medical and scientific knowledge, we equivocate.

For we must remember, as Gosnell attorney Jack McMahon bragged about in the wake of the verdict, that there were four counts of murder of babies on which Gosnell was found not guilty.  Why?  It was not proven, per the court, that these babies emerged from the womb alive.  Gosnell may have succeeded in “ensuring fetal demise” in utero, rather than ex utero.

To be clear: we know that four mothers were carrying four healthy, living members of our human family inside of them.  They were complete human beings, with all the material needed to biologically self-direct growth through childhood and adulthood, and to live through all the successes and failures and happiness and sadness and experience that we associate with the human condition.  They were what we were at 25 weeks, or 28 weeks, or 32 weeks.

We know that, once Gosnell was done with them, those four human beings were dead.  That self-directed process of natural development was stopped.  The brain stopped.  The heartbeat stopped.  The kicking limbs stopped.  The tingling nerves, which could feel the sharp pain of the scissors’ incision, stopped.

No one disputes this.  And yet, in the official records of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Kermit Gosnell is not guilty of ending four innocent lives—because he may have done so legally.

And his 40,000+ more abortions go unmentioned.

And so the scandal remains.  Killing the innocent remains legal in Pennsylvania, as it does in every state in this nation.  Ghouls like Gosnell, with names like Carhart and Brigham, continue to operate across this country founded on the notion of human equality and unalienable rights.  They continue to tear babies limb from limb in a manner that makes Gosnell’s “snipping” seem humane.  But they do it properly: in the womb, where no one can see their gruesome handiwork.

It is a victory for human rights that Gosnell was found guilty on three counts of first degree murder.  But on four counts, our society has looked the other way.  On four counts, we see that we still maintain irrational distinctions between persons, singling out who may live and who must die.  On four counts, we see how much work is left to be done.