Four years ago Dr. Kermit Gosnell began serving his life-sentence for the murders he committed as an abortion doctor in Philadelphia. Gosnell was one of the most well-known abortion doctors in the country. He is also the most prolific serial killer in American history, and his abortion clinic provided the perfect cover for his crimes.
But what you probably don’t know is that Gosnell considers himself a Christian. He strongly believes the Bible allows abortion, and that as an abortion doctor he was serving society in a way that would please God.
To demonstrate this, from jail Gosnell wrote a biblical defense of abortion doctors (it is published in Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer’s book Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer). In his typed out manifesto, Gosnell appeals to five “inspired passages” as the basis of the biblical defense of abortion.
He begins his list with these chilling words:
INSPIRED PASSAGES (KING JAMES VERSION): sought confirmation, justification, and comfort
Here in italics are his five verses that he uses to justify abortion, followed by my brief response:
Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Application: No life until breath.
Obviously this refers to Adam, and is not a principle that applies to all humans. In fact, for the abortionist, this verse proves too much. It demonstrates that Adam (and by extension Eve) had no life before God gave them breath precisely because they were the first humans. This is manifestly not true of every other human. We were not made from dirt, but from other humans. As the cells that made our bodies divided, multiplied, and grew, we were obviously alive long before we took our first breath.
Its also noteworthy that Gosnell was found guilty of murdering kids after their first breath, so even by his own twisted hermeneutics, he still stands literally condemned as a murderer.
Genesis 9:7: “And you, be ye fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply therein.” Application: Provision and procreation are equally important.
By this I assume Gosnell means that God cares as much about providing for a child as he does about the child being born. While Gosnell at least has the courage to say his point directly, many other abortion-minded “Christians” have made the same point more tactfully. You hear it in lines like, “Christians shouldn’t just be pro-life before birth, but also after birth.” The logic—and I use that term very loosely—being that if you can’t provide for a child, then better for the child not to be born. My response is simple: there are many families that want to adopt a child and give her a fruitful life. It is a moral travesty that some children are not provided for, and abortion furthers this injustice by refusing to provide even the most basic component of fruitfulness—namely, life itself.
John 15:2: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Application: A woman “purged” brings forth more fruit.
By having an abortion at a young age, Gosnell argues, that woman is giving herself the potential to have more children at a later age. Conveniently overlooked in this is that many woman after an abortion find themselves unable to have children at all. I know this because some of those women testified against Gosnell at his trial. But to deal with John 15:2: Jesus’ point is a simple agrarian metaphor. If you prune a bush, it grows back healthier. This is a metaphor that has zero to do with abortion, and the idea that having an abortion at 18-years of age makes one more fruitful later in life is appalling.
John 7:23-24: “…are ye angry with me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabboth day? Judge not according to the appearance but judge righteous judgement.” Application: Similarly, Law prefers to avoid the greater evil by bringing about the lesser of evils.
The argument is cumulative. If the greater evil is having a child out of wedlock (or a child you cannot provide for, or a child by rape/incest), then the lesser evil would be abortion. But not only is this very poor ethics, it is also self-refuting because the ‘lesser-evil’ argument only works if it is granted that abortion is an evil. But Jesus didn’t kill the man with the withered hand because life with only one hand would be unfair. Instead, he gave the man healing and hope in Christ.
At Gosnell’s clinic, they had a box to check on their patient form that asked: “are you having this abortion against your will?” If a girl checked that box, they did the abortion anyway, they just gave her the drugs without telling her what they were for, then told the teen-ager (they were mostly teens) that the abortion had already started, and it was too late to turn back.
The truth is, the abortionist does more to enable the sexual predator (the so-called greater evil), then he does to simply deal with the result of it. In reality the abortionist shares in the evil of criminals for the sake of financial gain, instead of caring for the victim or her baby.
James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?” Application: Faith is expressed, not by words, but by deeds.
Earlier in his manifesto, Gosnell had described abortions he did on a woman who had an affair, and wanted an abortion so her husband and children didn’t find out. He described doing an abortion for a 15-year-old girl, paid for by her grandmother, because the family didn’t have enough money to feed the 15-year-old, much less her baby. He compared the modern abortionist to Christians in the Roman Empire who were persecuted because they were misunderstood.
With that background, his appeal to James 2:14 begins to make sense. The abortionist sees himself as doing good for the world—living out his faith in the midst of a society that finds his work appalling and immoral. To the abortionist, Christians who oppose abortion are the “faith without out works” people, and the abortion doctor is the “faith with deeds” person.
But this mangles the scriptures terribly. The faith of the abortion doctor is no faith at all. As Gosnell’s story itself illustrates, it is a pursuit of power and money, over and against the lives of countless children. It is not a story of “helping” victims of rape/incest, but rather is a story of harming them by playing off of their fear and exploiting their victimhood. The true way to express faith in these scenarios is offer the victim help and hope—instead the abortion doctor takes their money and the life that is inside them. James goes on to describe a person destitute and in need of food, and asks what kind of faith a person has who simply walks by them, or who tells them “be warm and well fed?” (2:16)
The abortion doctor doesn’t even do that. He takes what little money they have left, and in its place gives them the hope that the abortion will fix their problems. This is as far away from the biblical expression of faith as one can be.
These five passages are the abortionist’s attempt to use the Bible to justify their sin. There are many ways people try to justify sinning, and abortion is no different. But I hope you see that using the Bible to justify what the Bible itself condemns is particularly twisted and misguided—much like abortion itself.
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