The Meaning of the Gosnell Trial

Eminent bioethicist Leon Kass on the dangers of a world increasingly indifferent to matters of human dignity.

Sohrab Ahmari
The Wall Street Journal

…Dr. Kass says his critics misunderstand the role of repugnance in his thinking. “It’s not that repugnance is always right,” he says. “There was once repugnance at interracial marriage, and there have been other repugnancies that turned out to be mere prejudice. But you wouldn’t want to live in a society where people feel no guilt or shame just because guilt and shame are sometimes disruptive—or in a society that doesn’t feel righteous indignation at the sight of injustice.”

Degradation and its opposite, human dignity, are central elements of Dr. Kass’s philosophy, and he fears that American society risks becoming disrespectful of dignity and indifferent to degradation.

Consider abortion. After years of calling for abortions that are “safe, legal and rare,” the Democratic Party in its 2012 platform dropped such language altogether in an attempt to appeal to its feminist base. But viewing childbearing solely as a matter of personal reproductive choice, Dr. Kass says, “means we no longer see a child as a gift but as a product of our will to be had by choice only. That makes human choice the basis of all value”—at the price of the child, for “he or she comes from the hands of nature.”…

…Despite his deep respect for the antiabortion movement—”the people who respect the dignity of nascent life have going for them not just ‘Thou shalt not kill’ but also a certain regard for the continuity of the generations and the renewal of human possibility”—Dr. Kass sometimes finds himself at odds with its advocates. The movement’s narrow focus on nascent life, he worries, blinds it to the fact that “abortion is connected to lots of other things that are threats to human dignity in its fullness.”

“Pursuing perfect babies, ageless bodies and happy souls with the aid of cloning, genetic engineering and psychopharmacology,” he thinks, are among the most significant of those threats…

…The Gosnell trial and the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon have degradation written all over them. As for dignity, Dr. Kass says, “You see it in the way nurses treat people who come in for chemotherapy. You see it in the way a great hostess treats a handicapped guest, helping him without causing him embarrassment. You see it in the way people come close to where there is human suffering and are not put off by the horror but do what is humanly necessary.”

His voice lowered almost to a whisper, he adds: “You saw it in Boston. Some people fled to safety—others rushed to the danger.”


The complete article is at The Wall Street Journal.


Related: The Schizophrenic Argument For Abortion

The latest in Obama stupidity involves a letter written by Michelle Obama, saying that abortion is a routine medical procedure. I let idiotic statements like this roll off my back…



Also, Fourteen Years After Columbine Evil Lurks, Culture Crumbles 

…As we commemorate the 14th anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, where 13 innocents died, still, we have chosen to ignore the underlying problem at the root of many of these school shootings – “evil in the hearts of men.”

Darrell Scott, Rachel Joy’s father, laid out this fundamental problem in a testimony before Congress, saying “when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs, politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA; they immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that continue to erode our personal and private liberties. We don’t need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan, [the shooters], would not have been stopped by more gun laws or metal detectors. No amount of laws can stop someone who spends months of planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.”…

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