Dr. Gosnell’s Guilt, the Death Penalty, and Justice

If any man on earth deserves the death penalty, it is convicted murderer “Dr.” (I put that in parentheses for a reason) Kermit Gosnell. He murdered babies born alive after failed abortions in the most gruesome and heinous way.

Critics of the death penalty say that violence begets violence, that state sanctioned killing is no better than the atrocities perpetrated by Dr. Gosnell

That is not true according to scripture. Both the OT and the NT approve of the death penalty when administered justly by the government.

It can be argued that the death penalty in America is anything but just – that is a valid argument. It has been pretty well demonstrated that black men are much more likely to receive the death penalty than white men guilty of similar crimes. Abuse of process by some law enforcement officers more concerned with getting a conviction than properly investigating and prosecuting crimes cannot be denied. DNA tests by the Innocence Project and others have made that clear – they have exonerated over 300 falsely convicted people.

But the idea that a consistent pro-life ethic demands a rejection of the death penalty is not accurate. The establishment of the death penalty came in Genesis 9:5-6.

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.”

Human life is precious and holy to God. In fact, it is so precious and holy to God that when you take a human life unjustly, your life is forfeit. Human life is so valuable that the penalty for taking it is extreme – death. God requires such a “reckoning” and authorizes human government to enforce that reckoning.

Dr. Gosnell took the most innocent of human lives – newborn babies – in such ways that I will not describe it here, nor add pictures. He will one stand give account to God for that unspeakable sin. Hopefully, he will repent before that day and find God’s amazing grace.

But it is wholly right and just that he should answer for the taking of these lives with his own.



  1. says

    “Amen” to putting Gosnell’s “Dr” in quotation marks. Anyone who would take an oath to “do no harm” and then gruesomely murder the most precious and innocent among us doesn’t deserve to be called doctor! I am glad to see this jury willing to make a move in the right direction.

  2. Bruce H. says

    He is guilty as the mother. Why are the women let go? They didn’t have a baby and walk out the door 5 minutes later. They knew the crying baby was going to die. A country that approves any form of abortion is as guilty as the bad Dr. He is just a scapegoat for all the other murderers.

    • says

      Morally, you’re right. However, the law of human government, albeit instituted by God, is less than perfect and at the time doesn’t hold people culpable for submitting their unborn children to a licensed abortionist. Let’s hope the state gets this one right.

      Unfortunately, Christians could be given the death penalty in the future by an increasingly imperfect government, as our brothers and sisters (or Jews) have in other countries. We’re less innocent than aborted babies, but could be found guilty of doing the right thing.

  3. Chase Martin says

    I think a man who imprisons and rapes girls in a basement dungeon year after year is more deserving of the death penalty.

  4. says

    You said, “Human life is precious and holy to God. In fact, it is so precious and holy to God that when you take a human life unjustly, your life is forfeit. Human life is so valuable that the penalty for taking it is extreme – death. God requires such a “reckoning” and authorizes human government to enforce that reckoning.”

    Are we as willing to apply this Biblical principle, to which I say “Amen,” to war against people who live in countries under Islamic Law or the rule of Imams?

    • says

      Would take too long to develop the doctrine, but I believe God has granted to human government the right to take lives (wield the Sword according to Romans 13) in the cast of capitol punishment and in the case of just war.

      Whether some of our recent wars classified as just war is another debate.

      • says


        “Whether some of our recent wars classified as just war is another debate.”

        Unfortunately, that debate is never had, probably because political ideology is prioritized over theology. It is a pattern when it comes to both evangelicals who generally vote Republican (i.e. white evangelicals) and evangelicals who generally vote Democrat (i.e. black, Hispanic and Asian evangelicals) … ideology usually trumps theology.

  5. Adam G. in NC says

    As for the death penalty in its current form, I’ll have to oppose it.

    There are just some crimes that are so terrible you cannot get justice here in this world…so “deterrence” is added to the reason capital punishment should be used properly in our criminal justice system. But is it even a real “deterrence” as it currently sits?

    You cannot have a deterrence when the convicted is executed in Central Prison at two in the morning and all reports of it are buried 10 pages deep in the newspaper. Many times, executions are hundreds of miles from the location of the crime and the state would just as soon have the public not know it even happened. This ruins the effectiveness of this punishment.

    We destroyed the potential good that can come from a public execution when the powers were transferred from the county-level to the state. When public hangings ended a century ago, the death-penalty lost its meaning. Now its just a means of state-vengeance instead of a true public deterrence.

    • says

      The purpose of the death penalty is not deterrence but punishment; justice. Turning law enforcement and criminal justice into social engineering, with emphases on deterrence, rehabilitation, corrections, recidivism etc. was when our legal system went bad. You do the crime, you pay the price. Simple as that.

      • Adam G. in NC says

        Its not as absolute as that. It’s always had a large element of “deterrence” regardless of your feelings. It just has. The exclusion of any deterring ability of these executions are just what you said…punishment only. If that’s the sole end as you state, then we have succeeded in creating it. But, it never has been as absolute aspunishment vs. deterrence…it was both/and.

        You do the time, you hang by the neck until dead…at noon…in the county where the crime was committed…in public view.
        Unless you are for state-sponsored-vengeance.

        • says

          Adam G. in NC:

          “Unless you are for state-sponsored-vengeance.”

          The Bible says: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

          Yet the Bible also is explicit in its support for capital punishment, including calling for the punishment of those who refuse to mete it out. It is not state-sponsored vengeance at all. It is state-administered justice, and Romans 13:1-4 states explicitly that God created government for the purpose of administering justice for both the protection of mankind and because it is in keeping with God’s divine attributes.

          But hey, if I were for state-sponsored vengeance … what if it? Romans 13:4 “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

          Based on that text, if I were to say “YES” I am for state-sponsored vengeance and support capital punishment because of it, then I would have the Bible on my side. What Bible text do you have on your side that justifies withholding capital punishment from those who shed innocent blood and commit other capital offenses?

          • Adam G. in NC says

            I’d probably say you could look to the verse just prior (Rom 13:3)and see a clear example of capital punishment as a deterrence as well, tying it together with justice.

            Not sure why you want to make this an either/or (justice vs deterrence) when the Bible clearly includes them both regarding crime and punishment.

            Also…Ecclesiastes 8:11 “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.”

  6. Frank L. says

    Irony and hypocrisy (and lunacy) abound in this case.

    Partial birth abortion–supported by the President–does what Gosnell did every day in America, different only in that the feet are still in the birth canal. Obama got elected even though he’s as much a monster in this regard as Gosnell. Hypocrisy?

    Drs., like Gosnell, kill babies every day and Planned Parenthood defends this. In fact, Planned Parenthood and Right to Life “both” point to Gosnell as an example of why their respective positions are correct. Irony?

    The result of Gosnell’s case will not likely result in less abortions, but in more effective measures to make babies are “more” dead. D & C carves up the baby in utero to assure that the “dreaded complication” (live birth) does not happen. Abortion will likely become more effective, not less prevalent. Lunacy?

    C.Everett Koop and Ronald Reagan stood together decades ago decrying the “slippery slope” from easy-abortion to infanticide. “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.” The “slippery slope argument” was laughed aside by abortion activists as “unimaginable.” Koop was right.

    Gosnell is a metaphor for all that is wrong with America, and warning of just how bad things are likely to get.

  7. James Ellis says

    I type the following with all due respect and I mean that sincerely. I hold those here in high regard and view your understandings of Scripture with great respect and mean no offense by this and no personal rancor toward anyone who has posted a view contrary to what I am about to put forth.
    I am outraged by Gosnell’s butchery. I am sickened by our nation’s paralytic moral turpitude. We are so far gone as a society that we are unable to move to do right even when it is obvious and without equivocation, it seems. I blame that on a number of factors, chiefly sin.
    In my flesh I want Gosnell flogged, beaten and his neck “snipped.” To put it crudely, in my flesh I think a REALLY late term abortion is in order here. But I refuse to call for that. Or for his execution.
    I have a Scriptural question. Where in the NT is the justification of the death penalty? Do we disregard Romans 12:19 because it does not suit our justified outrage at Gosnell and the culture of which he is a product?
    I can’t stomach the death penalty for a variety of reasons, among them my inability to picture Jesus flipping the switch, depressing the plunger or pulling the trigger to make it happen. Add to that the fact that we seem to have an ability as a world to stretch lots of offenses to the point of outrageous enough to justify another death and I ask myself, “Where does it end?”
    For me, I have to simply retreat to Romans 12:19. It is not mine to execute vengeance or to call for vengeance. I can play a word game and call vengeance “justice rightly administered” but that doesn’t make it something other than vengeance.
    But someone please point out to me where in the NT making war and executing people is okay? And not okay, but prescribed as a remedy for offenses in a civilized society. Because that is what people advocating for Gosnell’s death, the death of others worldwide, are calling for now. They want death as a remedy for death and that seems to me to be totally out of step with the Beatitudes and Romans 12:19.
    So, if death as a legal remedy for being wronged is prescribed in the NT, show me please.
    Just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean it is not there and just because you all proclaim it is does not mean it is, either.
    Show me Scripture from the New Testament please. Don’t refer me to Genesis because, let’s face it, if we go about executing people on the basis of OT parameters of the law, very few of us would still be alive.
    My comments might seem as though my “mind is made up” and I am going to be an obstinate person on this issue, but I assure you I am simply looking for what is right and what is God’s will in all things.

    Sincere thanks,


  8. Greg Harvey says

    My perspective is that God–very specifically Jesus–in the end is the Judge of all of mankind. We have a responsibility as people to judge justly in his stead until the day of the great judgement seat.

    Sometimes we as people judge justly. Sometimes we fail. God won’t fail. And he isn’t failing by delegating that responsibility to us. He’s accomplishing his plans by doing that.

    One might consider what God can accomplish if we people fail to uphold his principles? We demonstrate whether we are children of the light or children of darkness. And on judgment day we will be selected either into the sheep or into the goats based on our works. Now you might be thinking “no, faith is not works based.” But works are faith based. And in Matthew 25 Jesus doesn’t mention faith. He mentions the results of faith.

    After all is said and done in this world, I have two hopes:

    1. That as many as possible will come to faith in Jesus Christ.

    2. That since God–and not me–will have the final responsibility of the final judgment, he will be seen as Worthy and Just by all who are judged.

    We have some hope in this life of standing with God and convincing others of his worthiness and his justice. And these two verses come to mind as I think of how we ought to do that:

    “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”

    I actually pray that Gosnell will repent of his butchery and his sin and seek Jesus Christ as Savior. I don’t believe he will because he has been enabled by the left to believe butchery is medicine. But when he meets the Great Physician he will find out whether that Physician agrees or not. The Bible suggests it will be a short conversation. “Depart from me: I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness.”

  9. Dave Miller says

    Gosnell got life. That is a just outcome, though I wish that symbolically, they had demonstrated their disdain for his actions by imposing the ultimate penalty.

    Either way, he would have died in jail before sentence was carried out anyway.