BY NICHOLAS NEAL
Late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell is standing trial for eight counts of murder: seven of which are first-degree murder of newborns, and the eighth being a third-degree murder of Karnamaya Mongar for drug overdose. Former workers of Gosnell's abortion clinic testify that he engaged in multiple cases of delivering children alive and snipping their spinal cords. Such procedures were described as a "beheading" by his staff.
There are several things frustrating about this case: the first is that it happened in the first place, the second is the lack of press covering it, and the third is how the death of these children represents the schizophrenia we have toward the preborn. Had Gosnell committed these acts of violence against the same children while they were in the womb, it would not have been legally questioned. However, because he committed this act while the child is in a different location, he is rightfully considered a murderer. Anyone shocked at the idea of beheading newborns should realize that such dismemberments are perfectly legal at the tenth week of pregnancy. Not only is the child beheaded, but her skull is crushed. This child being younger and smaller shouldn't make a difference. In other words, what Gosnell did to children wasn't illegal because they were children, but because they were children in a certain location, of a certain age. The pro-life view, by contrast, holds that all human beings are of intrinsic worth and thus shouldn't be legally killed (at least non-defensively).
Unfortunately, some pro-lifers are forgetting their own principles. The prosecuting attorney is calling for the death penalty for Kermit Gosnell. This is a mistake, not only in pragmatic terms, but also in principle. Pragmatically, death penalty cases put more at stake for each case, thus making it harder to find Gosnell guilty for his crimes; not to mention, the whole process has become so cumbersome that its expense should be enough to end the practice altogether. On principle, it is time for pro-lifers to resolve their own schizophrenia in regard to the death penalty. If human life is sacred, that means we should put the strictest prohibitions on when it can and cannot be taken. While this wouldn't lead to pure pacifism, it should lead to a society where non-defensive killings are rejected. Life imprisonment makes the execution of Kermit Gosnell an unnecessary homicide, and an unnecessary homicide is an immoral homicide. There is a moral limit to retribution. We would not have a rape penalty for the worst rapist or a fraud penalty for the worst con men. If rape and fraud are off the table, why should death still be on it? In addition, rejecting homicide against murderers will put more pressure on society to reject homicide against the unborn. Highlighting the hypocrisies of killing our own offspring would be easier in a society that would not kill murderers. In our efforts to end the death penalty against the pre-born, we should not employ the death penalty against the post-born.