Four years ago, on May 13, 2013, Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder for severing the spines of babies born alive at his Philadelphia abortion facility, and one count of manslaughter for the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar. Sickening revelations about the appalling conditions at his facility, and the multiple levels of bureaucratic failure involved, shocked the nation.
As the fourth anniversary of Gosnell’s conviction approached, the American Civil Rights Union uncovered an odd detail: Gosnell, a felon, is allegedly still registered to vote in Philadelphia.
“For whom would Gosnell vote?” is a tantalizing question. Were he not sitting in state prison, presumably he would find enablers within both major parties. The cowardice of city and state officials (many of whom have rightly lost their jobs) who turned a blind eye to his sordid operation for so many years was bipartisan.
At the national level, one party has done everything in its power to avoid facing the truth. By opposing even the most modest limits on abortion, the Democratic Party platform inevitably begets more Gosnells. Nowhere is this more obvious than in undercover footage of senior Planned Parenthood employees discussing the harvesting of babies’ organs in late-term abortions and the possible coverup of infanticide. Gosnell is not an outlier.
When Gosnell was first indicted in 2011, left-leaning publication Slate warned about the danger of “pro-choice absolutism.” Those warnings went unheeded. Democrats in Congress were desperate to disown Gosnell and protect abortion at all costs. Before the trial was over, they argued that callous disregard for human life is a feature of the medical profession in general, and not abortion specifically. Brutal dental offices are not the problem, abortion is. Real health care doesn’t leave a woman dying on a soiled gurney.
Fast forward to 2016. Rather than wise up, Democrats doubled down. Hillary Clinton was the most extreme pro-abortion presidential candidate this nation has ever seen. Her platform of abortion on-demand up to the moment of birth, paid for with tax dollars, which became the official platform of the Democratic Party, was the policy equivalent of what Gosnell was in practice.
The pro-abortion left scoffed when then-candidate Donald Trump described Clinton’s position at the final presidential debate, saying, “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb.” They shouldn’t have scoffed. It was precisely what Clinton herself stated on national television, just with Trumpian color. American voters got the message and rejected Clinton.
Most Americans are not Hillary Clinton, and neither are most Democrats. Twenty-eight percent of Democrats think abortion should be illegal all or most of the time. Some party leaders, like foul-mouthed DNC Chairman Tom Perez or Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, are ready to show pro-life Democrats the door to enforce the party orthodoxy that support for abortion is “not negotiable.” Ilyse Hogue, president of the radically pro-abortion NARAL, may not have followed through on her flirtation with running for DNC chair, but she and the abortion lobby are still calling the shots – to the detriment of party unity.
Not all prominent Democrats appear eager to sacrifice the party’s future at the abortion altar; Bernie Sanders and, of all people, Nancy Pelosi bristled at Perez’s harsh litmus test. This leaves Democrats with a divided house, struggling to find the soul of their party. They must decide whether they will embrace a big tent that includes pro-lifers, or, by pandering to the abortion lobby, hemorrhage moderate voters and continue down the path of irrelevance. Let’s hope their humiliating 2016 election loss isn’t wasted, but makes them more receptive to change than they have been in the past.
The Gosnell case is also a cautionary tale for Republicans who now control both houses of Congress. It was partly the weakness of a Republican governor that allowed the sickening conditions at Gosnell’s facility to fester. With a pro-life President in the White House, there are no excuses not to defund Planned Parenthood and redirect taxpayer dollars to a far larger network of comprehensive health care centers. The passage of a health care bill that does this for one year, as well as enacting permanent Hyde Amendment protections to get American taxpayers out of the abortion business is a good start, but there’s much more work to be done. Congress also needs to end cruel late-term abortion by passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect babies at 20 weeks, more than halfway through pregnancy, a point when science shows they can feel pain.
It’s good to reflect on Gosnell’s sobering anniversary, but this ought to be the last year we have to ask whether our leaders have learned the right lessons or if nothing has changed.