Dear Dr. Gosnell,

This is not a letter to condemn you. Your own actions have already done that.

This is a letter from a woman who was told at the age of 13 that she’d never be able to have children. Who lost her first child to miscarriage and who was prayed over to receive her other two children. This is a letter from a woman who doesn’t take her fertility, or her two sons, for granted.

This is a letter from a woman who believes the church needs to be more compassionate towards those who feel they need to abort. From a woman who believes we need to step up as a church to offer our homes, our finances and our arms to those women so they have another choice. From a woman who recently offered to adopt the fetus of a friend—a friend who ended up aborting anyway.

I’m writing to you on Mother’s Day because you are someone’s son. You have a mother. And when you were born, I’m sure she rejoiced. I’m sure she kissed your cheeks and held you close and smelled your baby powder skin. I’m sure she wept over you, over your innocence, longing for you to know joy and love and laughter, and I’m sure, as you aged, that she received homemade cards from you on Mother’s Day, made with construction paper and magic markers.

You were born on February 9, 1941, in Philadelphia, the only child of a gas station operator and a government clerk in an African-American family. You were a top student.  You spent four decades practicing medicine among the poor including opening the Mantua Halfway House, a rehab clinic for drug addicts.

You have been married three times and you have six children.

Yet you ended children’s lives after they were born by snipping their spinal cords. You kept fetuses’ feet in jars in your office.

Gosnell is alleged to have performed illegal late-term abortions (in Pennsylvania, the law prohibits abortion later than 24 weeks). These procedures are difficult, so Gosnell’s method, according to the charges, was to induce labor, deliver a live baby then kill it — or “ensure fetal demise,” as Gosnell referred to it. He did this, the grand-jury report says, by “sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord.” (More on Late-Term Abortions: Q&A With the Last Remaining Doctor Who Performs Them)

You decided it was okay to take people’s money under the table, desperate women who didn’t feel they had any other choice, but not only that–you showed them no dignity while you did it.

Semiconscious, moaning women sat in dirty recliners and on bloodstained blankets. The air reeked of urine from the flea-infested cats permitted to roam the clinic. There was blood on the floor and cat feces on the stairs. One investigator likened the scene to “a bad gas-station restroom.”

And one woman even died on your table.

And I’m wondering: how did it happen? What happened to make you stop believing life was sacred? When did you stop believing mothers deserved respect, even as they were deciding to end the life of their child? When did you stop believing that their full-term children deserved to live? And did you ever believe that their lives were more than just flesh and bone?

Those children are with God now. They are whole and happy and running around heaven with fully formed limbs. But it was your life that you ended with every snip of the scissors, and your mother’s prayers turned to sobs as the baby she bore became a serial killer of babies.

I am a mother of two sons. And I need to know: When did your heart turn cold? When did you stop caring? When did the light fade from your eyes and the magic markers fall from your fingers and when did life stop being a miracle? When did women lose your respect, and more importantly, when did you stop going home to thank your mother for raising you? For giving birth to you? For giving you the chance to listen to the symphony and hit a baseball and taste a world full of foods? For giving you the chance to feel the wind on your skin, and to fall in love?

This is a letter from a mother who longs for her boys to spend every minute of their lives saving lives, instead of ending them. Who longs for them to put their own wants and needs aside for the greater need: a hurting world, and I’m sorry, Dr. Gosnell. I’m sorry for whatever it was that blindsided you, that made you believe you were somehow doing the world a favor, because you were tricked.

It’s only when I look at you and see the little boy you once were, that I can find it in me to forgive you. The little boy who once looked adoringly at his mother, and cupped her cheeks in his chubby hands.

So, I forgive you, Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Not because you deserve it. But because none of us do.



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