Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Good News, Bad News in Gosnell Trial

Do you want the good news first, or the bad news?

The good news is that the media has really begun reporting on the Gosnell trial in Philadelphia, in which an abortionist has been charged with multiple counts of murder.

The bad news is that the number of charges against Gosnell are dwindling.  Whereas he was initially charged with eight murders, he's now charged with five.  The Washington Post is confirming this afternoon that the judge in his case threw out three murder charges today for lack of sufficient evidence.  Gosnell now stands accused of murdering four infants and an adult patient of his who had sought an abortion.

But hold on a minute - is it really bad news that the number of murder charges against Gosnell are dwindling?  As news spread of the judge's ruling in three of the disputed cases, some pro-life advocates began to complain that our criminal justice system was failing us.  The knee-jerk reaction consisted mostly of suspicion that somebody is pulling strings to the benefit of pro-choice liberals.

So let's look at the circumstances surrounding these three charges Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart had to evaluate.  For the most part, evidence provided in court supporting claims of murder on these three cases consists of anecdotal testimony based on visual or aural proofs which might have a hard time withstanding continued prosecutorial scrutiny in the courtroom.  In other words, these claims could undermine the legal integrity of the entire case against the disgraced doctor.

Remember, Gosnell's trial appears to be far from over, and no matter the verdict, it's hard to imagine there being no appeal of any kind.  Justice is well and truly served when any trial proceeds with the truest charges and strongest proofs available.  Frankly, Judge Minehart may be helping to buttress the case against Gosnell by removing clutter in the trial that could distract from the stronger case Pennsylvania has against the abortionist.  Besides, if we evangelicals are supposed to be all about justice, what's to complain about if three of these charges could distort justice in this case?

Let's not react to headlines, but to facts.  Apparently, in those three cases, medical proof cannot be found  that the fetuses were viable before birth or alive afterwards.  So, do you want these charges thrown out now, even though it's the middle of the trial, or towards the end, when doing so would be much more dramatic in favor of the defense?  Regardless of the charges - and however many they are - he deserves a fair trial like anybody else.  Besides, a verdict that can't stand up to the inevitable appeals process isn't worth much.

Yes, it's easy for us to vilify Dr. Kermit Gosnell.  According to what we've been told, he's not only a pro-choice advocate, or even an abortionist who gets paid for taking life some liberals say doesn't exist, but he's been charged with murdering babies that have come out of the womb as viable human beings.  That's disturbing even to many pro-choice advocates.  Seeing the photographs of his tiny little patients that had been killed almost made me physically sick.

But it took the challenge of a friend before I seriously thought about how I should view Gosnell.  My friend asked me if I'd prayed for Gosnell.  After all, he definitely needs the Lord, right?  Unfortunately, I had to confess that I hadn't.  It hadn't even occurred to me to pray for him.  But I pray for him now.  I've heard some people say they're praying for the little lives Gosnell took.  Why pray for them?  They're in Heaven, right?  Instead of praying for people who are already in Heaven, why not pray for people who will need to be?  It's hard to believe that Gosnell already professes saving faith in Christ, and since he probably doesn't, shouldn't we be praying for his salvation?

Then too, consider that the crimes with which he's charged may be more heinous according to our mortal judicial system than anything you and I have done, but they're equal in God's eyes to the sins you and I have committed.  Eerie, huh?  He needs Christ as much - but not any more - than we do.  We can mourn for the lives he took, advocate sociopolitically on behalf of life, and hope that justice is served in his case, but even then, vengeance is the Lord's, not ours.  And we shouldn't be thirsty for it, but we should be thirsty for grace.  Plus, the same grace for which we thirst in our own lives should be something we hope Gosnell may one day have for himself.

I'm not saying that praying for Gosnell is easy.  It seems counter-intuitive at first.  In fact, speaking of being counter-intuitive, following this line of thinking, we're supposed to be praying for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.  We're also supposed to be praying for whomever is responsible for the massive explosion at the fertilizer facility in West, Texas - a blast so powerful some officials now say underground utilities were damaged. 

If you stop and think about it, praying for all of these people for whom we wouldn't ordinarily think to pray could take up an awful lot of time, couldn't it?  I mean, there are a lot of people who do things with which we don't agree.  Then again, I figure that if I spent half as much time fretting about the bad stuff other people do, and pray for them using the other half of that time, I'd probably get less stressed-out over some of these things.  And I'd have actually brought these people before the throne of the only One Who can really do anything of eternal value for them.  

The bad news is that I have such a hard time living with a heart of grace.

The good news is that God doesn't!


  1. great article! It hadn't occurred to me to pray for him either. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Yes, I agree with you, Tim. But it's hard. I had barely finished your piece when I read this one, which is quite similar: http://www.whitbyforum.com/2013/04/mission-accomplished-heading-home.html


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