Applauding Kermit Gosnell’s Guilty Verdict

What Women Really Think
May 13 2013 6:24 PM

Applauding Kermit Gosnell’s Guilty Verdict

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Kermit Gosnell is guilty

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty of murder for the deaths of three babies who were born, and then killed, in his hellhole of a Pennsylania abortion clinic.  From Fox:

“Prosecution experts said one was nearly 30 weeks along when it was aborted and it was so big that Gosnell allegedly joked it could ‘walk to the bus.’ A second fetus was said to be alive for some 20 minues before a clinic worker snipped its neck. A third was born in a toilet and was moving after another clinic employee grabbed it and severed its spinal cord, according to testimony.”
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That’s all you need to know to welcome this verdict. There is nothing controversial about finding a man guilty who killed live babies. Gosnell was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of a patient who died of an overdose in his care. Her death is a reflection of the abusive, repulsive scene of his clinic, a place of unspeakable conditions. The grand jury report that laid out the charges against Gosnell is excruciating to read, a document of horrors visited on poor and desperate women and innocent newborns. So are the accounts of the Pennsylvania agencies that dropped the ball on investigating and catching this man.

We can debate whether Gosnell’s trial got enough press coverage—whether the mainstream media shied away from putting it on the front page for fear of putting abortion in a bad light. But Gosnell’s misdeeds aren’t about legal abortion. They’re about killing babies after viability—after they could live outside their mothers’ wombs. In Pennsylvania, abortions after 24 weeks are illegal. It’s important to remember why women were driven to Gosnell’s clinic. But you can fully support a legal right to abortion—and greater access to it—and simultaneously applaud this guilty verdict. The women and babies of Pennsylvania are safer with Gosnell facing many years in prison or the death penalty. That is front page news.

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.