For decades, my fellow academics have been playing upon people’s emotions by exploiting human tragedy for political gain. In recent years, that tendency has become more pronounced. Perhaps the most salient example is the attempt to use school shootings to advance a gun control agenda that will ultimately increase homicide and other crimes of violence. Perhaps the time has come for conservative academics to respond by making better use of tragedy for political gain.
There could be no better starting place for the exploitation of tragedy than the case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. I began discussing Gosnell years ago in one of my criminology classes (Trials of the Century) at UNC-Wilmington. In that class, I assigned the grand jury report from the Gosnell case to seniors majoring in criminology. Since the Gosnell book came out last year I have started using it instead. Now that the movie has been released, I will consider showing it in class. It may be the only time students at UNCW will be exposed to an honest treatment of abortion in their four years of college.
As much as I appreciated the McElhinney and McAleer book on Gosnell (and as much as I applaud the movie), I still prefer exposing people to the Gosnell case by having them read the full grand jury report. That report contains all the details – and many that would make Margaret Sanger proud. The evidence in the report indicated that numerous complaints about the gruesome conditions at Gosnell's clinic were ignored. His clinic catered to West Philadelphia’s poor minorities – the kind of people Sanger referred to as human weeds that should be removed from the population.
Darwin proclaimed “survival of the fittest.” Sanger promoted survival of the whitest and survival of the richest. She would have been proud to learn that white women from the suburbs were ushered into a separate, slightly cleaner area of Gosnell’s clinic. This was because he believed they were more likely to file complaints.
I teach my students that every crime has a motive. The clear motive in the Gosnell case was money. He made millions of dollars performing thousands of dangerous abortions, many of them illegal late-term procedures. He cut costs by refusing to hire nurses and trained medical staff.
The left defends legalized abortion on the grounds that illegal abortions are “unsafe.” Of course, abortions are never safe. There is one killed and one wounded in every case of abortion. In the Gosnell case, at least two women died from the procedures. Others suffered perforated bowels, cervixes, and uteruses.
The full grand jury report indicated that Gosnell induced labor, then forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, and eighth months of pregnancy. He then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord. Gosnell referred to the gruesome process as "snipping.” He then destroyed many of his medical files in order to hide the extent of his “snipping.” That is not surprising. Abortion doctors do not keep their Hippocratic oaths. Why should they be expected to keep their records?
There was a certain Hannibal Lecter quality to the Gosnell case. Authorities found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the offices of Kermit Gosnell. There were jars found containing severed feet that were kept for no apparent purpose. They were the kinds of trophies which, had they not been human, would have aroused the ire of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). But these were not people’s pets. They were people’s mistakes. They deserved no ethical treatment in the eyes of some. Sadly, authorities stopped inspecting the place in 1993.
Some defenders of abortion will point out that – although he earned his medical degree from Thomas Jefferson University – Gosnell started, but did not finish, a residency in obstetrics-gynecology. Some complained that he did not know how to perform an abortion without risking killing someone. That trite observation ignores the obvious: No one has ever performed an abortion without actually killing someone.
In the wake of recent school shootings, some have argued that we should limit semi-automatic handgun magazine capacity to ten. I think we should consider limiting abortion clinic waiting room capacity to ten. Or maybe we should have a seven-day cooling down period for those who have a passion for performing abortions. Whichever way we decide to exploit this tragedy, the conservative slogan is fairly obvious: “Guns don’t kill people. Abortion doctors kill people.” We need to start printing the tee shirts now.
The real question in my mind involves more than just the medical malpractice involved in the Gosnell case. It involves the academic malpractice of my colleagues in criminology. A student who graduated in May told me she only heard about Gosnell in my Trials of the Century course. None of her other professors mentioned Gosnell in any of her other classes. So, she decided to take her Gosnell book around to several of them.
None “professed” any knowledge of who Gosnell was and what his trial was about. But I wonder whether my fellow criminology professors really know nothing about America’s most prolific serial killer. I suspect that they are probably lying in order to avoid the subject.
Either way, they should be fired for academic malpractice.