Law / Politics / Rights

In a Society that Pursues Truth, Why are we ignoring the Gosnell Case?

My friend David discussing his film 3801 Lancaster with Anderson Cooper (click to watch)

My friend David discussing his film 3801 Lancaster with Anderson Cooper (click to watch)

My childhood friend David Altrogge (shown above) has been adamant for a long time in his stance against abortion. Accordingly, David, along with his crew have put together the story of humanity (or the lack thereof) in the Case of Kermit Gosnell. This Friday, David went on Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss his film, I’m really proud of my friend. Anyway, 3 months ago I wrote the following column in support of David’s film for You may have already read this article over at but I thought I would repost it here.  

An online documentary, 3801 Lancaster, on the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was released this week. The documentary reveals the horrific acts of an abortion clinic that went far beyond the typical boundaries of law or reason. Gosnell repeatedly performed illegal third trimester abortions and silenced breathing infants with a clip of the spinal column, then stored the remains like Hannibal Lecter. What made matters worse was government agencies tasked with supervising such treatment centers turned a blind eye to the horror. An insightful comment, delivered by one of the prosecuting attorneys in the documentary, asked “How is it that we have more oversight in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of women’s hair salons and nail salons than we do over abortion clinics?”

The documentary, while decidely slanted in favor of the pro-life movement, reveals something disturbing about ourselves.

One of the problems in the abortion debate today is that both sides are screaming past one another. Neither side considers the other’s point of view. Pro-life advocates often forget the trauma that can occur to a woman’s body during pregnancy and how the government regulating a woman’s use of her own body is a severe government intrusion akin to slavery. Likewise, the pro-choice movement often fails to consider that potentially they are taking away not only another life, but also the life-contingent right of liberty from the infant that they ironically seek to protect for the mother.

Few would argue against the fact that all humans deserve the same rights all other humans are entitled to; among them, most famously, are , life, liberty (choice), and the pursuit of happiness. No one would say with a serious face that a senior on a breathing device, though not able to live on his or her own, is not human, and therefore not entitled to all human rights. So the real question is when are we considered humans, and therefore entitled to each right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

This is the main point of contention. In pursuing this truth, pro-choice advocates defense slants toward the high priority of liberty of the mother, and pro-life advocates zealously defend the right, that all other rights hinge upon as precedent, life. So we shouldn’t be surprised when the two sides defending such noble positions forget to consider the other’s point of view.

In the case of Dr. Gosnell, our society did just that. We forgot to be honest with ourselves. We fail to defend something so simple and obvious as a living, breathing, viable, human being their most basic right: life itself. People often oppose such hideous images as shown in the documentary on the stance that such images unnaturally slant the debate. I would ask them, in a society that pursues truth, why are we so willfully blind?

You can view the 20 minute documentary below:


9 thoughts on “In a Society that Pursues Truth, Why are we ignoring the Gosnell Case?

  1. I’m sorry, but like so many I’ve read who are writing about this case, you’ve misidentified the crime, possibly blinded by emotional reaction to the horrible consequences. The crime is medical negligence. An unethical doctor allowed unlicensed, incompetent staff to perform surgical procedures under non-sterile conditions. He caused patients harm, exploiting them for profit. Only the women harmed have legal standing to pursue redress for damages. This happens in other specialties too, such as cosmetic surgery, and we all know about hospitals where botched procedures take place.

    In an indirect way, we are all at fault. When you keep cutting the availability of sex education, contraception, and care services for the poor, you create a market for the greedy to exploit the powerless. Those most unethical will take advantage of it.

    • So the fact that these babies were viable and could have lived on their own is inconsequential? Killing a living human being was not a crime?

      • You’re confusing morality with legality. It’s not inconsequential, and I never said that. But the babies still don’t have standing in court. The women do.

  2. I don’t agree. A living, breathing, child, is entitled to all the rights under the constitution and guaranteed by the 14th amendment Citizenship Clause, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”…Therefore they are entitled to due process and every other right under our legal system…morality need not come into this debate to show it is wrong.

    • If the child could live on its own as they did, they were entitled US citizens…furthermore this is not a situation of the mother’s health where you must chose between two lives…those children who died in Gosnell’s practice were nothing short of American citizens under the law

  3. Clinics like Gosnell’s were commonplace before Roe vs. Wade, and many times, worse. In countries that have banned abortion, nearly every one has seen a drastic increase in the amount of abortions – with clinics like these popping up in back rooms (the couple of exceptions saw drastic increases in abortions in neighboring countries). The reason that Gosnell’s clinic was able to exist was because of exactly what you wrote – the two sides are yelling past each other. The pro-life politicians in PA have not been able to win their argument, so instead, they have put exceeding strange building requirements / regulations on the clinics – in some cases down to the size of doorways and closets. The pro-life politicians then change these regulations often enough that these clinics would need to spend millions of dollars every few years just to keep up. Their goal was to drain these clinics of money. So, then when the pro-choice politicians get in office and don’t have enough votes to change the strange regulations, they decide to defund or limit inspections – otherwise every clinic would have to shut down. Because of this, it created an environment where because the two sides were locked in a political battle of tit-for-tat, and a monster was able to practice virtually unchecked. Both pro-choice and pro-life politicians / voters were at fault here – they are so obsessed with their arguments, that they would rather win arguments and political debates, then to actually help women and children. And actually, in the process, their fighting allowed many more women and children to be hurt / killed. — It won’t be until we tackle the heart of the issue, helping mothers, education, fixing adoption, etc., until we see progress. Until then, it reminds me of the story of King Solomon and splitting the baby in half – both the pro-life and pro-choice movements are so obsessed with “winning” that they have taken their eyes off of real humanity and compassion.

    • Hmm i haven’t thought of that angle as much. On the one hand this argument makes sense…that making it forbidden people seek out worse solutions. This argument is very similar to the drug law debate…by banning drugs doesn’t stop drug use but just people buying drugs from dangerous individuals which leads to violence. However, one way this argument IS different that it involves another person, the drug debate argument works because the person is only hurting himself…in the abortion debate another person is involved and pushes the issue closer to something like slavery where one group of people assert rights over another group of people…thus that argument didn’t work for slavery, that people would do it anyway, and I dont think it works here.

      However, you raise a good point of people trying to one up each other in their political debates, leading to poor oversight to ensure rights are not abused. Its hard to argue that defunding abortion clinics did not contribute to this mess…I think we need a societal resolution to this issue a la the 13th amendment at some point to resolve the issue once and for all.

      • But I agree…that this issue flared up due to the cross hairs of two legitimate arguments…Pro-Lifers need to consider the impact on females, especially young and single females and how to help them…and likewise Pro-Choice individuals need to consider the fact that maybe in seeking to help the mother retain her bodily integrity they are perhaps in fringing also on the bodily integrity of the child…in the case of Gosnell where the babies were in the 3rd trimester and could have lived on their own this is not an issue of where life begins…indeed it certainly already had.

  4. I agree with most of what you wrote here. This is why I left the pro-life movement about a decade ago and never joined the pro-choice movement. Most (emphasis on most) of the pro-life politicians / leaders in the movement cannot even answer simple questions about enforcement of laws involving outlawing abortion: Who do you arrest? The Doctor, the mother, if the father was there approving, etc.? How can it be morally consistent without arresting both doctor and mother? If it is murder, then wouldn’t we have to arrest the person who funded, drove them to the clinic, etc., with being an accomplice? Would we have to investigate miscarriages? If a woman falls down the stairs or has some other injury, is it manslaughter? If they have horrible habits that cause a miscarriage (drinking, drug abuse, even drinking a lot of caffeine) are the arrested for manslaughter? — I have asked literally dozens of politicians and other leaders within the pro-life movement and they never have answers for these questions. There is not a single politician’s web site that deals with enforcement or how these challenges would be solved. This is why I am convinced that for most (emphasis on most) of our political / other leaders it is a political football to raise money with and get votes with and not an issue they seriously want to address.

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