Everybody who came wanted the same outcome: The pro-lifers wanted Kermit Gosnell’s conviction; the pro-aborts wanted Kermit Gosnell’s conviction.
They even had the same reasons: Photos of dead baby feet in jars nauseated pro-lifers; the sight of dead baby feet in jars nauseated pro-aborts.
It was the reasons behind the reasons that diverged. Pro-lifers hoped a guilty verdict on a particularly unsavory abortionist would reopen the subject of abortion in America, while pro-aborts hoped a guilty verdict for Gosnell would change the subject from abortion in America.
Now we have a verdict and a sentence: Gosnell, 72, will wear a prison jumpsuit for life, having elected this Tuesday to forego appeals in order to avoid the death penalty.
What may we expect to come after this? Will the future of our battle against abortion be helped or hindered with the “house of horrors” laid to rest, will people go back to watching Two and a Half Men and congratulate themselves on eradicating the cancer from Gotham? With the scoundrel behind bars, will a thousand dingy little abortion mills and reputable abortion-performing hospitals breathe a sigh of relief—like speeders on an expressway who collectively exhale when they see a state trooper detained with one lawbreaker on the side of the road? Is Gosnell the get-out-of-jail-free card for other abortionists?
Or, more happily, will the Gosnell guilty verdict prove to be the tiny thread pulled that unravels the whole afghan, one sordid abortion center after another? Will it provoke an outcry from the community similar to what happened in Corinth long ago?
“… see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!” (2 Corinthians 7:11)
In his instructions to jurors prior to their deliberations, Judge Jeffrey Minehart told them to do what’s right and not to concern themselves with outcomes. There is a measure of wisdom in that advice for Christians, too. Since we do not see around corners, let us trust God with long-term results, but let us continue to work as the Jews did in Nehemiah’s time, with trowel in one hand and sword in the other.
“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).
The sword of the Spirit, I mean. For we deceive ourselves to put too much stock in civil decisions alone—as if they could turn the hearts of men. The battle is in the hearts and is of supernatural dimensions. Laws are laws, and Spirit is Spirit. Too strong a wind sweeps through the land to be stopped by the broken reeds of human lawmaking.