Kermit Gosnell and the Culture of Death

*Posted by Brandon Smith

The picture to the left is my daughter, Harper Grace Smith, on March 29, 2013. In this photo and subsequent photos and videos, we were shown her developed vital organs, her strong heartbeat, and her incessant kicking and squirming. According to U.S. law, we could decide to stop these things from ever happening again. If we didn’t want her, we’d be perfectly justified legally to end her 20-week-old life. In fact, we’d have a few weeks to think about it.

The debates rage on about the human rights for the unborn, using labels such as “zygotes,” “fetuses,” and other non-human terms for the developing life inside a woman. This debate alone is a tragedy. And this disturbing testimony by a Planned Parenthood representative notwithstanding, basic human morality would promote the idea of embracing the life of a child actually delivered from the womb. Or so we hope.

Building a Culture of Death

Since at least 1973, with the decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, we’ve been publicly conditioned to value human life only when convenient. It’s amazing that these were debatable matters of the court, and they triggered the start of a frightening ethical progress. In short, abortion went from an idea to a normative option. I’m no fan of tracing the acts of extremists back to the roots of a belief system, but surely such degradation of life led to the reprehensible actions of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion “doctor” in Pennsylvania. According to reports, Gosnell performed innumerable illegal abortions well past the 24-week limit set by the state, including severing the spinal cords of babies who partially and fully left their mother’s womb. Mothers of some children even died during the process due to shabby procedures and conditions. All with the help of underage “nurses.”

That abortion exists at all, and that it’s culturally acceptable, opens the door to the extreme horror of Gosnell’s practice. And let’s be clear: Whether a life is ended at 24 weeks (the legal limit) or 25, at one week or at birth, a life that God created is destroyed. The gruesomeness may be more obvious to the senses, but the savagery is the same.

Our world is becoming inoculated to the deaths of 1.2 million children every year, to the point that the media isn’t putting Gosnell on the front pages and average Americans aren’t raising much concern about the silence. Akin to the brainwashing of the majority in Nazi Germany, culture’s acquiescing to the systematic destruction of a group of people immunizes our hearts to its ghastly reality. In Inside Hitler’s Germany, Matthew Hughes and Chris Mann explain that brainwashing started with German youth. By the time the real violence began:

Ordinary people went along with this appalling violence against fellow Germans. One remembered that while [the attacks on Jews] was a shock, “When the masses were shouting ‘Heil’ what could the individual person do? You went along. We went along. That’s how it was. We were the followers.” (101)

Sound familiar? And while both pro-choice and pro-life proponents are equally flabbergasted by the Holocaust now, there will be a day when history will look back on today’s America, India, China, and other life-destroying cultures and be repulsed by the staggering abortion numbers from 1973-???. Or so we hope.

Promoting a Theology of Life

For the Christian, this should be a non-negotiable issue. God creates human beings in his image (Gen. 1:27) and, in turn, knows them intricately in the womb (Ps. 139:13-15). God is a God of life, and each life belongs to him and no one else. Life itself is woven into every theological construct from anthropology to soteriology to eschatology. We are created to physically live, redeemed to spiritually live anew, and given eternal life to live forever.

As Jesus’s disciples, we follow his lead on matters of justice. All things are for him, through him, and to him (Rom. 11:36), and he cares about mankind. For this very reason, the second great commandment orders us to love others as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:39). I don’t know about you, but I would expect those who had the choice to defend my life when I had no choice. It’s easy to promote abortion when you weren’t the one aborted; it’s righteous to defend the unborn precisely because you weren’t the one aborted.

As culture presses in on our beliefs, posing us as the close-minded bigots of our era, we must stand firm. We will not be silenced. We must take this truth to the pulpits, the streets, the social media realm, and beyond. Let us follow in the footsteps of Jesus who healed the blind man even when he was pressured to leave him helpless (Matt. 20:29-34). If we take up our crosses and follow Jesus, contending for what is right and true, we can raise a clarion call for the value of human life in this age.

Or so we hope.


This was discussed more in depth by Barry Creamer and Brandon on the air.

This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Ethics, Family, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Kermit Gosnell and the Culture of Death

  1. John says:

    I (gently) protest the reference to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust–in particular, because the two cases are dis-analogous, and in general, because such references are rarely helpful or illuminating. On what basis do you make your allegations of “brainwashing” and “cultural conditioning”? There has been a vociferous on-going debate over abortion in this country for many decades now, and most people are simply tired of rehearsing the arguments. I think you are adding to the confusion by over-simplifying and misidentifying the central issue here. I dare say that you have not bothered to understand why reasonable ‘pro-choicers’ think the way they do, and have fallen into the trap of making emotionally-charged, but cognitively empty, appeals. You cannot change the nature of the debate while you still believe that everyone who disagrees with you is evil and insane. Have the courage of conviction to investigate the pro-choice camp and the intellectual virtue to do so charitably and in good faith–not because they might end up being right, but because, if you don’t, you’ll just end up “beating the air.” [While nothing I’ve just said should lead anyone to conclude otherwise, let me say now that I wholeheartedly concur with your position on abortion ,and dare say that I take it just as seriously.]

    • John,

      Thanks for your comment and for reading this article.

      I actually tried to avoid emotive response here, and am disappointed that it read as such. We can disagree on this point, and probably won’t come to a conclusion via debate considering we seem to come from two trajectory points: 1) I feel I understand pro-choicers while you say that I do not “have the courage” to do so; 2) You see reasonable conclusions for being pro-choice and I don’t.

      In any event, I’ll clarify two things:

      1. I do not think people who are pro-choice are necessarily evil or insane. I think more often than not, they are a product of their environment and/or believe that an unborn child is not a viable human being. Scientific jargon has muddled the waters and people buy into it, albeit with virtuous motives.

      2. Of course, comparing anything to Nazi Germany is in a sense non-analogous. Nothing compares to it directly. However, as the government and society in general taught children from young ages that Naziism was right and true, people became either immune to it or afraid to speak against it. In the same way, people are being taught in grade school that an unborn baby is a “fetus” or whatever else, clouding the humanity of it. Heck, I was taught this 20 years ago. Subbing at a high school a few years ago, I saw this still being pushed in the classroom. As such, the government and media are similarly making abortion either normal or a lesser evil. This leads to immunity and/or indifference.

      • John says:

        I find your response curious. I certainly don’t want to imply that you are a coward, but neither am I convinced that you’ve ever really deeply engaged with a pro-choice advocate who has thought through their beliefs. And yes, many such intellectually honest, kind-hearted (albeit, we will agree, misguided) people exist and, I think you will find if you are open to it, willing to engage in rational dialogue. (It is People that are reasonable, not propositions, by the way.) Why bother when we both know they are wrong? For two reasons: (1) You can’t change people’s minds until you know what they think and understand why they think it, and (2) because it is the virtuous thing to do, and not just intellectually. As Christians we have a duty to others in a way that befits creatures made in the image of God, and not just those who agree with us. Zeal can provoke us to sin, even when directed at the right things, when Spirit is not ruled by Reason (to invoke Plato). If pro-choicers are a product of their environment, then so are you–you deserve no more credit for knowing the truth than they deserve your condemnation for their ignorance.
        As far as “scientific jargon” and “labels such as “zygotes,” “fetuses,” and other non-human terms”, I simply can’t understand what the problem is. Scientific terminology is introduced (by scientists, not secretive Government agencies) for the sake of clarity and standardization of use, not in order to influence public opinion. There is no inherent “anti-human” sentiment codified by the terms ’embryo’, ‘zygote’, of ‘fetus’. For example, ‘fetus’ is from the Latin for “offspring”. Any negative connotations these words have acquired since their introduction to the lexicon is due, I would argue, primarily to misguided pro-lifers such as yourself. It is a serious mistake, and an unfortunate distraction, to take Latin as some kind of Government/Media conspiracy. I respectfully submit that this non-issue be tabled indefinitely so that we may move on to more fruitful dialogue. Nothing at all hinges on whether or not we call an unborn baby after the ninth week of development a ‘fetus’ or not (which, by the way, refers to the fact that, at that point, the baby is structurally similar to an adult). I’ve over stayed my welcome, so I’ll leave it at that. . .

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