FIRST-PERSON: Post-Gosnell, we need more accountability on abortion clinics

Baptist Press
Posted: May 17, 2013 5:22 PM

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The entire nation is aware of the horrific acts of Kermit Gosnell, the late-term abortionist. The stories that have come out during his trial for multiple counts of murder of young babies are heartbreaking and bewildering. We can breathe a little easier now that he has been found guilty of first-degree murder.

I can understand the disgust that most Americans feel toward this man. I share it. Yet people like this were bound to emerge from the carnage of our abortion culture. We shouldn't be surprised that some of those who can do the unspeakable to a human being inside the womb would have no moral qualms over doing the same thing outside the womb. The abortion culture has subjugated the unborn to the interests of their mothers. If the mother doesn't want her baby, an abortionist like Kermit Gosnell feels no different about that baby before or after birth.

Given that mindset, we must ask if there are more Kermit Gosnells out there. Is he the worst of what the abortion culture has produced, or is he just the one who got caught? As responsible citizens, we all need to know. The lives of babies and the wellbeing of mothers are at stake.

That's why I appreciate the recent effort by the leadership of two committees of the United States House of Representatives. The House Judiciary Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to every state attorney general and health officer asking them the kinds of questions that can help all of us get some answers.

Their letters ask such questions as "Does your state license abortion clinics?" Can you imagine not needing a license to perform abortions? It is unthinkable to me that some states have become so abortion-friendly that they wouldn't even require some kind of licensing process for these places. The congressmen also ask if abortionists have been prosecuted for performing unlawful late-term abortions in their states. Considering what Kermit Gosnell was doing that question certainly makes sense. The state of Pennsylvania received multiple complaints about what he was doing, yet did nothing.

The House committees asked the states to answer their questions within two weeks. With every week that passes, more than 23,000 more abortions are performed. Do our states even know under what conditions these lives were taken? What about the mothers? What were they subjected to during their ordeal? Does anyone even know how they are now?

Abortion is a violent act with multiple victims. Many in Congress are trying to get a clearer picture of just what is happening across the country. I applaud them for this first step in bringing some accountability to bear on those who kill our nation's purest treasure and scar our mothers for life.

I am grateful that our nation is becoming more pro-life. But that pro-life conviction must be channeled into action. It isn't enough to simply say one is pro-life and not do anything to protect the unborn. A good starting place for action is to know what the states are and are not doing right now. I trust that every state will respond quickly. God is watching what we do, and He is holding us accountable. May we hold ourselves accountable before He passes His own judgment.

Barrett Duke is vice president for public policy and research for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook ( and in your email (

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