Saturday afternoon I headed to the local multiplex to see the 12:45 showing of “Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.” I presumed I had my pick of seats.
I presumed wrong. Although I was 10 minutes early, I got the last one. It’s a good thing the seat reclined. Otherwise the view from the front row might have caused permanent neck strain.
I went to support the team. I had grown used to attending well-intentioned movies and leaving the theater thinking, at least the movie was well intentioned.
“Gosnell” is different. It is well produced, powerful and thoroughly provocative. That said, the major media are refusing to review the movie for much the same reason they refused to report on the trial. Any honest look at abortion unnerves them.
As of Wednesday, the Internet Movie Data Base listed only 14 reviews for “Gosnell,” at least three of which were in conservation publications. None were in major online or print publications.
By contrast, IMDB lists 40 reviews for a film that opened the same day, “Goosebumps 2, Haunted Halloween,” a movie no sane film critic would describe as more consequential.
Those online critics who reviewed “Gosnell” were generally fair. “On the whole, ‘Gosnell’ is a well-acted and compelling courtroom drama,” writes Michael McGranahan in Aisle Seat. “Women suffered greatly under Kermit Gosnell’s ‘care,’ as did babies who emerged alive.”
“‘Gosnell’ works on so many levels it’s hard to count them all,” writes Hollywood in Toto’s Christian Toto. “‘Gosnell’ strains to be impartial, and by most accounts it succeeds. The main players even recite the mantra, ‘this is not about abortion’ for pragmatic purposes. The prize is ending Dr. Gosnell’s house of horrors, not striking a blow for the pro-life movement.”
None of the apolitical reviews that I read captured the one scene in the movie that would make the pro-choice crowd squirm. This scene shifts the focus away from the obviously monstrous Gosnell and towards the practice of abortion in general.
This scene, like many, was taken virtually word for word from the trial transcript. The irony of the scene is rich. The admittedly pro-choice prosecutor, played convincingly by Sarah Jane Morris, puts a respectable abortionist, a very proper female doctor, on the stand to show just how anomalous was Gosnell’s practice.
At this point in the movie, I could imagine an abortion supporter thinking, Yes, the problem is not abortion. The problem is criminals like Gosnell.
Then the cross examination begins. The defense attorney, played with snarling gusto by director Nick Searcey, walks the good doctor through the details of her lawful termination of the baby while still in the womb.
The inescapable reality is that a D&E, dilation and extraction, abortion is no less gruesome than Gosnell’s snipping of a live baby’s spinal cord. It is simply less visible.
The D&E is routine for second trimester abortions in the United States. More than 100,000 are performed every year. The defense attorney has the good doctor describe how she removes the thorax, pelvis, cranium, and each arm and leg separately using surgical instruments. If need be, she crushes the baby’s brain in order to extract it.
Although the respectable abortionist admits to having performed some 30,000 abortions, she claims she did not have to deal with live births as Gosnell did because “we listen to the sonogram to ensure that the fetal heart has stopped.”
When the defense attorney asks what she would do if a baby were born live, the doctor, now obviously uncomfortable, replies she would give the baby “comfort care,” adding, “It will eventually pass.”
The “it” in question is a living, breathing baby. “Pass” means “die.” The attorney repeats with a touch of contempt, “Eventually, it would pass.”
Although his motives are pure self-interest, it is the defense attorney who establishes that dismembering a living baby in the womb or letting the baby die slowly outside of it is no more moral than what Gosnell did. It is simply more hygienic.
This is a reality that dawns on any dispassionate observer forced to face the actual practice of abortion. No one who participated in the trial or who watches the movie walks away unaffected.
When confronted with an undeniable truth, abortion providers and the media do what they inevitably do: ignore it, suppress it and hope it goes away.
They tried all three with the undercover Planned Parenthood videos produced by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. They are doing the same with “Gosnell.” On the plus side, producers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney have yet to be arrested.