Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty on three counts of first degree murder, one of involuntary manslaughter and hundreds of other charges “ranging from infanticide to running a corrupt clinic” in the trial I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.
Many of the reporters writing about the story are rightly chilled by the sense of calm exhibited by Gosnell in the dock, and by his comments in a 2010 interview that “I wanted to be an effective, positive force in the minority community…I believe in the long term I will be vindicated.”
Robert P George asks, however,
If respectable and influential people—cultural and political leaders—spend decades trying to persuade the public that “it’s not really a baby, it just looks like a baby,” are we shocked—shocked—that some people come to believe it, and act on that belief?
Ideas have consequences, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, and that’s why I’m passionate about thinking through the consequences of the ideas that can seem so reasonable on the surface. For instance, here’s something I wrote in a book review a couple of years ago:
If you believe, as philosophers like Peter Singer do, that rationality and self-awareness are what make us human, then logically, infanticide is perfectly acceptable, because you’re still only destroying cells or a mass of tissue, not an actual person.
This may sound like a bizarre belief, but it is becoming more and more common, even though we may not express it in quite those terms.
The one redeeming feature of this horrific case is that it has jerked us all back into reality and reminded us of what we know deep down – that what Gosnell did was wrong. Categorically and undeniably wrong. Whether these babies were wanted by their mothers or not, they were human, and basic humanity compels us to treat other members of our race with care, love and compassion.
Tim Stanley puts it incredibly well on his Telegraph blog:
People are people, no matter how vulnerable or inconvenient we might find them. The challenge our common humanity poses to us is to try to find love for the unborn, the destitute, the infirm and even the imprisoned. Yes, even for Kermit Gosnell. That man is going to need a lot of prayers right now.