Honestly, is it so hard to understand Kermit Gosnell? If respectable and influential people—cultural and political leaders—spend decades trying to persuade the public that “it’s not really a baby, it just looks like a baby,” are we shocked—shocked—that some people come to believe it, and act on that belief?
Of course, even before the newly conceived human “looks like” a baby, it is a living member of the human species—a human being. It is our duty to respect and protect him or her (sex is determined from the beginning in the human) not because of how he or she looks, but because of what he or she is.
Still, one might say that it is easier to understand how one could fail to see that abortion is the taking of human life when the human life in question is in the earliest stages of development, and doesn’t yet “look like a baby.” But because the unborn human begins to “look like a baby” fairly early on, the pro-choice movement worked hard to persuade people not to trust the evidence of their senses—to disregard the little arms and legs that were severed in the process of dismembering the “fetus” (a perfectly valid word—meaning “young one”—that became convenient to deploy as a way of suggesting that the unborn baby is “something different,” not really a baby or a human being). ”It’s not a baby, it just looks like a baby.” Tragically, Gosnell believed them. So did lots of other people.
This is not the primary or most fundamental reason for my view that we who are pro-life should plead for mercy for Gosnell if he is convicted of capital murder, but it is a reason. If convicted, Gosnell should spend the rest of his life in prison, but we shouldn’t pretend not to know how he could have performed the killings he performed. The structure of beliefs behind his actions is not one that is unique to him or even uncommon. On the contrary, it is all-too-common. And a lot of work went into making it common.