By Marta Mossburg
Special to The Globe
Twenty years from now I’m betting historians will look back and classify the modern abortion debate into two time periods: before Kermit Gosnell and after.
The Philadelphia doctor convicted May 13 of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of babies born alive and involuntary manslaughter of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar in his Women’s Medical Society clinic showed the country what late-term abortion is all about: butchering innocent children.
But the gruesome details of how Gosnell practiced his trade changed everything. It forced the national media kicking and screaming to cover a trial they tried to ignore for weeks and prompted a national discussion about when “fetuses” become children. It also fueled support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, passed in the House earlier this week.
The scrutiny became intense enough national pro-abortion groups were forced to publicly condemn Gosnell. After the trial verdict in May, for example, NARAL Pro-Choice America wrote, “Justice was served to Kermit Gosnell today and he will pay the price for the atrocities he committed.”
“We hope that the lessons of the trial do not fade with the verdict,” it wrote. “Anti-choice politicians, and their unrelenting efforts to deny women access to safe and legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley butchers like Kermit Gosnell.”
Never mind that Gosnell’s clinic was legal — NARAL knows, like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), that changing the narrative about abortion will invalidate its cause.
Asked by the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack about the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, she falsely claimed, “It would make it a federal law that there would be no abortion in our country.”
I get why she said what she said. In the old debate her argument had clear and simple moral superiority. It was choice or back room alley abortions; choice or women’s oppression.
But it puts her and all who argue like her in the awkward situation of defending belief over fact, because understanding of human life has grown immensely since the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973.
Until Gosnell, their tired explanations still held sway. But I think the reality of breathing, kicking babies dismembered and murdered for money on display at the Gosnell trial will only give more credence to unborn children’s legal claims initiated by medical advances.
Infanticide now described as late-term abortion should no more be a legal right than murder. If Pelosi and NARAL want to be on the right side of history they will stop conflating all abortion and denying what medicine has made possible. And if it is Kermit Gosnell who ultimately makes them change their story, his life will have served a purpose other than evil.