Category Archives: Aboption

“These Vulnerable Creatures”: a Review of “Gosnell”

“These Vulnerable Creatures”: a Review of “Gosnell”

There have been notorious murderers brought down for reasons other than their most horrific crimes. Al Capone, mob boss, was felled by tax evasion; Dr. Kermit Gosnell, abortionist, by illegally selling prescriptions for painkillers.

I’d be surprised if there are any readers of The Catholic Thing who don’t know who Gosnell is, but just in case: he’s the former operator of a Philadelphia abortuary, who was a specialist in late-term and “partial-birth” abortions. He would regularly take babies born alive (his clinic’s procedures were slapdash at best) and cut their spinal cords at the neck.

Al Capone was a better person.

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer is in some ways like an hour-and-three-quarter length episode of Law and Oder: SVU– although the best-ever episode. The director of the film (also one of its stars) is Nick Searcy. Here he plays Gosnell’s defense attorney and manages to be convincing enough so that – even though we know he will lose the case – there’s still dramatic tension in the trial sequences.

Opposing him in court is an assistant district attorney played by Sarah Jane Morris. Ms. Morris is the film’s true star and its dramatic hub. I cry easily and did several times watching this film. Morris is an actress of the first order and her eyes show depth of feeling, whether of anger or sorrow or compassion, and it was she who made me tear up.

The levels of evil in this story are manifold. It starts, of course, with the indifference to human life inherent in abortion itself. Yet you could say – after the familiar pro-abortion mantra – that legal abortions should at least be safe and rare, whereas at Gosnell’s “clinic” they were anything but safe, were very frequent, and many weren’t even legal, occurring after the time limit prescribed by Pennsylvania law.

All this came to light because of a raid on Gosnell’s clinic by the Philadelphia P.D., the FBI, and the DEA looking for evidence related to those painkiller prescriptions.

During the raid, Gosnell is called into a procedure room to aid a patient “in distress.” One of the Philly cops, James Wood (Dean Cain), sees the patient sitting up, her hands on her belly: she’s clearly full-term. This can’t be right. . . . It’s just a glimpse, but it was enough to make me realize Mr. Searcy is as good a director as he is an actor.

Similarly, there’s a very nice sequence of scenes featuring an ambitious blogger, Molly Mullaney (Cynthia Fiallo), with bright red streaks in her hair and the requite tattoos, suggesting a far-Left pro-choicer, which is true. But she’s honest.

And there is some excellent balance between scenes, as, for example, when Detectives Wood and Stark (AlonZo Rachel) discover Gosnell’s collection of . . . baby feet and a later scene in which the prosecutor (Ms. Morris) plays with her own baby’s tootsies and, pro-choice though she is, “has a moment.”

Later, drinking something strong both to deaden her emotions (unsuccessfully) and to loosen her tongue, she explains to her shocked husband what investigators have discovered. “I’m gonna get that bastard,” she says.

The District Attorney (played by Michael Beach) is the first to pronounce Gosnell the worst serial killer in American history and warns his team that the courthouse will be swarming with reporters, all of whom will make this case (about the hottest of hot-button issues) a nightmare for the prosecutors. But when they arrive for the trial, only Molly the blogger is there, although that will change – thanks to her.

Gosnell is rated PG-13, which rating should put at ease any fear that the film is exploitive of the gore associated with abortion. To the extent that there is gore, it’s verbal. The horrors of the abortuary are described, not shown. Normally that would be bad cinema, where the rule is: Show, don’t tell. Here it works.

Gosnell, as portrayed by Earl Billings, lacks “affect,” as perhaps the bad doctor does – so much so that you might have thought he would escape conviction with an insanity defense. His Gosnell is ever-smiling and always in denial. “I look at all the women I’ve treated,” he says proudly, “as if they were my own daughter.”

Much of what’s in the film is based on trial transcripts, but there are some scenes that seem less fact-based – even unlikely. In the morgue, examining the bodies of the largest baby corpses recovered from Gosnell’s clinic of horrors, the medical examiner hands a scalpel to our heroine, the woman prosecutor, so she can cut into a skull to see if the brain is or is not intact (intact would mean the child was born alive and then murdered). This seems unlikely – a violation of medical and legal ethics. But it’s meant to be a kind of “crossing-the-Rubicon” moment for her. She’s pro-choice, after all.

Gosnell is not preachy. It’s fact-based. Janine Turner appears as a “respectable” abortion provider testifying for the prosecution, who – in cross-examination – says she has performed 30,000 abortions. As much as any line in the film, that one brought me up short. It’s that staggering number, of course, but it’s also because Ms. Turner, so stately and beautiful and composed, delivers the line so matter-of-factly. What she describes would make the film R-rated if it were shown.

Earlier, as the murderer’s trial is set to begin, a judge asks Gosnell if he has anything to say. He expresses concern for the rare turtles he keeps at his clinic. The judge instructs the prosecutor to see to the turtles’ welfare, because the judge takes the Endangered Species Act very seriously: “You are going to have to figure out how to deal with these vulnerable creatures.”

___

As mentioned, Gosnell is rated PG-13. Only one scene (in the morgue) involves blood – a liver autopsy. The teleplay is by Andrew Klavan; the screenplay is by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinny and is based upon their bestselling book. There are some interesting cameos, including the actual prosecutor, Christine Wechsler, and our friend and former contributor, Austin Ruse, as one of the late-to-the-trial press corps.

Sarah Jane Morris

Brad Miner

Brad Miner

Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and Board Secretary of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His new book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with George J. Marlin, is now on sale. The Compleat Gentleman, is available on audio.

 

LOGIC AND LIFE, Bishop of Toledo Daniel E. Thomas

Logic and life

3/3/2018

BY DANIEL E. THOMAS
BISHOP OF TOLEDO

Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo believes that ProMedica’s recent decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network defies logic.

Bishop Daniel Thomas of the Diocese of Toledo believes that ProMedica’s recent decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network defies logic.

ProMedica’s Board of Trustees’ recent decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Capital Care Network, Toledo’s last remaining abortion facility, defies logic. The hospital states that entering into this agreement aligns with their mission and values in the belief that “no one is beyond the reach of life-saving health care.” But in fact, because their partnering with the abortion clinic facilitates the denial of “life-saving health care” for the most vulnerable, unborn babies, their very decision defies logic. To say, as Keith Burris has, that on the one hand no one could deny as a matter of science that abortion is the taking of a baby’s life, and on the other hand that ProMedica’s decision is “a gutsy, pro- life act of leadership,” also defies logic.

Logic is the science of good or valid reasoning, a reasoning based on wisdom and common sense. To say that a health care system’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of its patients is logical. To say that its mission includes partnering with a clinic whose reason for existence is the direct killing and dismemberment of innocent human life, is simply illogical. To say that abortion is health care defies logic. It makes no sense.

EDITORIAL: The duty of a hospital

It’s logical for people of good will, no matter their religion, to expect that anyone, in particular a pregnant mother experiencing a medical emergency, should be able to receive lifesaving treatment at a hospital. It is not logical for people, no matter their religion, to expect or insist that in order to provide care for a woman in a health crisis, a respected hospital should partner with a clinic whose aim is life destroying “treatment.” In fact, ProMedica rightly would have treated any woman coming to their emergency room doors in need or in crisis, without a “transfer agreement.”

The reasoning that a hospital’s task is to “save every life you can” is perfectly logical. But the reasoning that a hospital should enter into an agreement in order to address the sad possibility of treating the rare patient who might be transferred from Capital Care, versus the sadder reality of the hundreds of innocent babies whose lives will be snuffed out each year in that clinic as a direct result of the agreement, is perfectly illogical. It makes no sense.

That good, dedicated and competent doctors, nurses, staff, and volunteers of a hospital daily pour themselves out to heal and save life is more than logical, it’s commendable. That members of the board of trustees of a hospital, whose doors are open to heal and save life, would unilaterally make a decision which keeps open the doors of a clinic that destroys and terminates life, is more than illogical, it’s deplorable. There is simply no getting around it: the decision of ProMedica’s Board of Trustees to sign the transfer agreement means that unborn babies will continue to be slaughtered in Toledo at Capital Care.

KEITH BURRIS: ProMedica’s decision is ‘gutsy’

Logic is all about sound reasoning. As a health care system, ProMedica’s decision to partner to keep open a clinic whose purpose is the opposite of health care, is an example of flawed logic. That decision does not reflect the purpose and mission of a hospital, to heal and sustain human life. That decision instead facilitates the very destruction of the weakest of our human family, the unborn in the womb. I invite all people of good will, who understand and value logic and life, to join me in petitioning the members of the ProMedica Board to overturn their hasty decision and to renew their commitment to the logic and life worthy of their health care system.

As Pope Francis states: “In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science.” This is the logic of life.

Daniel E. Thomas is the Bishop of Toledo.