PHILADELPHIA—A jury took two weeks to find abortionist Kermit Gosnell guilty of first-degree murder in the deaths of three of four babies. If you personally thought it was a slam-dunk verdict, the five men and seven women who rendered it evidently did not, and I totally understand. What a cruel thing they were asked to do on our behalf, to turn thumbs up or down over a man who, if he had sliced the same necks just inches away in the womb of their mothers, would have gotten a paycheck rather than a conviction, or at worst a felony for violating the state’s Abortion Rights Act if the babies were older than 24 weeks of gestation.
Was there ever such a mixture of gravity and willy-nilly in the mandate bequeathed to 12 mortals? Surely life and death decisions should be assigned with firmer guidelines than those available to these unfortunates. They were like men thrown on a ship in mid-ocean without a compass. They may have been instructed well enough in what the quarterdeck and engine room were about, but what good was all that if they didn’t have a clue where true north was?
You can well imagine the possible discussions that went on for days behind closed doors:
“He killed little babies—he’s guilty.”
“Yeah, but abortionists kill little babies all day long.”
“Well, but they do it inside the mother’s body.”
“I understand that, but so what? How can fetus location make one act a ‘family planning’ act and the other act an ‘atrocity? Is this like real estate: location, location, location?”
“True. The difference between a respectable civil right and an atrocity should hinge on something greater than the geography of the killing.”
“Right. I say they are all monsters—or none are monsters.”
“Hmmm. Let us agree that they are all monsters. But the fact of the matter is this, ladies and gentlemen: We in this room, at this moment, are being asked to judge only one monster. Let us do right by our calling in this small sphere of authority levied on us, and leave aside what is not ours to decide.”
“Ding-dong, the witch is dead,” sang the Munchkins over curling striped toes under a house just dropped from Kansas. But even as they breathed a sigh of relief, another witch was on her way. NARAL Pro-Choice America’s glee over one scapegoat locked away belies the fact that their witches are legion. They decry the “back alley” abortion while failing to note that Gosnell was not back alley. His was a legitimate, if poorly inspected, abortion facility. There are hundreds of others just like the Women’s Medical Society. If Gosnell’s actions were “atrocities,” as NARAL calls them, the abortions they themselves champion are not less atrocities for being conducted within a few legal technicalities.
Outside the courthouse, Gosnell’s attorney Jack McMahon told us he thought the jury had been “thoughtful” and took its time. “If the verdict had come back in one day,” he said, he would have known it was “emotional” and “knee-jerk.” When asked if he was disappointed, he said, “Sure? Am I satisfied that the jury gave us a fair shot? Yes.” McMahon said the penalty phase begins next Tuesday. Will we hear from Kermit Gosnell himself for the first time? His lawyer replied only, “Possibly.”