Gosnell conviction highlights threats to human life

aymond    A jury in Philadelphia found Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a late-term abortionist, guilty of murdering three infants after they were born alive as well as causing the death of a woman through a drug overdose. What is your perspective on his conviction?
    People have been rightfully outraged at the evidence that was presented during his trial – that he murdered infants who had been born alive. Some people are surprised that these actions actually go on because they simply never hear about them. Now we know that Gosnell has definitely taken the life of newborn infants. We believe the child in the womb is a child of God and a member of our human family, and his conviction reminds us that all human life is sacred. No human being has the right to destroy human life. Unfortunately, it takes a conviction like this to bring greater attention to the pro-life movement and to the horror of taking the life of a child. It’s interesting that we call what he has done murder. And yet, some people can very easily justify the taking the life of a child in the womb. How, then, do you explain the contradiction in the law, which allows a person to take the life of the child in the womb through abortion, but if a mother is killed with a baby in her womb, it’s considered a double murder? It makes no legal or moral sense.
    What impact do you think the Gosnell conviction will have on the pro-life movement?
    His conviction raises to our attention again the fundamental validity and moral underpinnings of the pro-life movement, certainly as espoused by the Catholic Church and by many people who are committed to the dignity of human life. I personally am very encouraged by the number of teenagers and young adults who are strongly pro-life. I see this as I visit high schools and colleges, and I see this at the pro-life marches in Baton Rouge and in Washington. There is no doubt that the young people – what I love to call the young church and the young adult church – are making a difference. They are calling us to respect the dignity of human life in a way that people of my generation did not. Sadly, I believe my generation easily gave into the abortion movement.
    Abby Johnson, who used to work in an abortion clinic, came to New Orleans on Monday to talk about her conversion and about the practices she witnessed in the Planned Parenthood clinic in which she worked. Why is her story important?
    She told a story from her personal experience, and that was a story we needed to hear. In her earlier life, she was able to justify the taking of human life, and now she has gone through a period of conversion. She calls us to realize that our efforts in the pro-life movement do make a difference in the hearts and the lives of other people, so we should not give up because God can use us to bring about a conversion of mind and heart in a person who is pro-choice. The purpose of the gathering was to let people know that Planned Parenthood does mean more abortions. It’s amazing to me the number of people who do not realize that Planned Parenthood is so closely tied to abortion. It’s the greatest abortion producer in the United States – more than 330,000 a year in its clinics alone. I hope this event raised consciousness and was a teachable moment. We also wanted to rally people around the fact that this is another issue in our New Battle of New Orleans. Whether it’s the child in the womb or the child who was just born alive or the teenager on the streets being killed, this is fundamentally about the respect for the dignity of human life.
    You’ve also promoted vigorously the NOLA Needs Peace initiative (www.nola needspeace.com). Why?
    It’s extremely important to point it out to the community what we teach in the Catholic Church – that human life is to be respected from the moment of conception to natural death. That respect for human life includes acknowledging the sin of racism, the sin of violence in our city and, obviously, the sins of abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. We as a church also care for the immigrant.
    Gosnell chose not to appeal his conviction and accepted a sentence of life in prison. By not appealing, he ensured he would not receive the death penalty.
    I am pleased by that outcome. The fact that he took human life is atrocious, but it does not justify us taking his life. We would hope that this life sentence would give him the time to reconcile with God and with those whom he has hurt by his actions.
    What was your reaction to the Mother’s Day shooting at the second-line parade?
    That’s just another tragic reminder that evil is around us in this world. It also raises questions about mental stability and emotional maturity. It seems some people have never developed the use of conscience to know right from wrong, so, therefore, they become the god who chooses who lives and who dies. We must pray for peace and for life.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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