You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about the Newtown shooting. On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot and killed 20 children and six teachers before taking his own life. It is a gruesome tale that has induced grief and outrage on a national level.
You may be less familiar with the Kermit Gosnell murders. Gosnell, a long-time abortion provider, was arrested in 2011 on eight counts of murder. The charges include an adult female patient who died in his clinic and seven infants whom, born alive after botched abortions, he killed by severing their spinal cords with a pair of rusty scissors. As the trial continues, we’ve heard testimonies of his practice that are so horrific they’ll here pass without mention.
These atrocities are alike in their gruesome, senseless slaughter of vulnerable children and potential to provoke policy change, but compared to Newtown, Gosnell has received little national media coverage. Where Newtown has quickly gotten the gears of political machines moving, Gosnell has yet to gain social traction. Still, whether the media cares or not and whether the cases receive the same level of cultural scrutiny, the Church can’t shirk the opportunity to be reverently vocal about where we stand on life and liberty.
What Gosnell and Newtown Have in Common
While both of these stories are horrific beyond measure, we can acknowledge that they are not identical. They do, however, have some very interesting commonalities worthy of discussion.
Both events strike a chord in a politically volatile arena where two polarized and exceedingly entrenched viewpoints have had their battle lines clearly drawn for years – Newtown in the gun rights dispute and Gosnell in the abortion debate. In each of these cases, the opposing perspectives are so thoroughly dug in that it would take a profoundly unnerving event to unsettle them enough to reconsider their objectivity – events like those of Newtown and Gosnell.
Both cases originated in legality. Lanza used guns that were obtained legally by his mother, and Gosnell was legally licensed to perform abortions. In both cases, what began legally ended horrifically. Incidents this brutal can call into question whether the allowances our nation granted, the right to bear arms and the right to an abortion, should be reconsidered.
What Gosnell and Newtown Do Not Have in Common
On the one hand, given the visible devastation in Newtown, there has been significant political push to readdress gun rights and the process by which people obtain guns. Merited or not, Lanza’s crime pushed the debate to a bigger national stage than it’s had in years.
On the other hand, since the Gosnell case is one of faceless, nameless victims, there has been a lack of national consciousness and no significant sway of public opinion on abortion. There’s no new perceivable outcry to see if the murders that Gosnell committed outside the womb equal those absolved inside the womb.
The Response of the Church
I wish that it could be said of the Gosnell case and not just Newtown that these crimes were so heinous that they got the American people, and therefore their representatives, spurred into rethinking our legislation in a concerted effort to make sure something this atrocious could never happen again. Yet it’s simply not the case.
And what does this say about our culture? How far have we gone wrong? What level of depravity have we reached when such a grotesque event can affect us so little?
As bleak as the situation may seem, we as the Church of the living Christ must not wane. We can never shy away from an opportunity to enter into a conversation about abortion with loving tenacity, whether it be with neighbors, strangers or policymakers. The people of God need to speak up on behalf of the unnamed, unwanted unborn. The Gosnell trial affords us the opportunity to have a valuable dialogue right now.