Dr. Kermit Barron Gosnell is pictured in an undated mug shot from the Philadelphia Police Department. Gosnell is on trial in Philadelphia and has been charged with murder and other offenses related to illegal, late-term abortions.(CNS photo/handout Philadelphia Police Department)
Dr. Kermit Barron Gosnell is pictured in an undated mug shot from the Philadelphia Police Department. Gosnell is on trial in Philadelphia and has been charged with murder and other offenses related to illegal, late-term abortions.(CNS photo/handout Philadelphia Police Department)

Medical training does a good job of teaching you to batten down your emotional hatches — so you don’t start blubbering, retching, or fainting in the presence of a sick or dying person. Thus working for long hours on a cadaver you learn anatomy, but you also learn that a corpse is pretty harmless.

When you do lethal experiments on condemned, anesthetized dogs from the pound, you learn physiology, but also that you can cut on bleeding, reactive tissue. You actually have to bury your feelings in many ways to survive medical school. Add to this, the day-to-day joking around, the long shifts, and the massive study requirements, and it’s easy to see how medical students could graduate insensitive, uncaring, and arrogant, totally separated from the professional compassion that may have attracted them in the first place.

Piled high over their buried emotions, is a smattering of bioethical training which has consistently taught that if it’s legal, it’s ethical. And Catholic conscience formation, if any, has probably been accidental.

Fortunately this is not usually the end

This cold insensitivity gives way to a certain emotional maturation that comes from caring for patients. If nothing else, doctors at least appreciate their dear patients who put bread on their table. And as this doctor-patient relationship grows, a mutual fondness can grow. Doctors may even find themselves accidentally referring to patients as friends — or at least becoming a little empathetic with them.

Dr. Jim Asher is a graduate of Marquette University and Des Moines University. He earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Midwestern University. He and his wife of 48 years, Rose Neidhoefer of Milwaukee, have seven children and 13 grandchildren. He is a retired family physician. He is a parishioner at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, an officer in the Catholic Physician’s Guild, and a member of the Knights of Columbus. Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.

Some, however, lured by the easy money of doing abortions, miss this normalizing step, or perhaps forget they once liked people, as they abandon their true healing vocation. But there are no sublime ideals, no real caring about women’s welfare. The resultant stifling of their emotional life, absence of intellectual challenge, and destruction of conscience only portends severe moral decline. In fact, it’s hard to imagine someone involved in day-to-day abortions not acquiring a mentality approximating that of a serial killer.

So people look at Dr. Kermit Gosnell and wonder, how could he kill aborted babies born alive? Don’t wonder. He could well be just like a lot of doctors you know. And you likely won’t hear much about him because journalists have mainly decided to ignore him — they hope to protect women’s “rights” to kill their children. And of course, writing about him just wouldn’t be a nice liberal thing to do.

But as much attention as possible needs to be drawn to him. Because the only thing that keeps a lot of us physicians from becoming monsters is the fear of being pointed out as one. Gosnell isn’t the only physician who’s made big bucks off abortion or post-abortion infanticide.

Besides, he’s got some support from secular ethicists who justify what he did. They call it “post-birth abortion” and they need to be exposed.

How to help

You can help. The Catholic Medical Association means to educate medical students in Catholic bioethics. Members already donate much time and money to this endeavor. Your donation and prayers could be added.  

It costs approximately $1,000 to send a medical student to a Catholic Medical Association conference or summer “boot camp.” Both are intensive programs to teach Catholic bioethical principles. Students need the help because they’re already spending upwards of $40,000 per year for four years on tuition.

Especially if your doctor is Catholic, try and introduce him to natural family planning, and encourage him to quit participating in artificial birth control and referral for abortion. If you are successful, know you are one of many lay Catholics that are bringing doctors back toward greater sensitivity and participation in the Church. And there is great need, because there are very few Catholic doctors in primary care not prescribing contraception and referring for abortion.

Pray for Dr. Gosnell. Unfortunately, deep inside, he’s not a lot different from many others. And pray for your doctor. Benedicamus Domino.

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Dr. Jim Asher is a graduate of Marquette University and Des Moines University. He earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Midwestern University. He and his wife of 50 years, Rose Neidhoefer of Milwaukee, have seven children and 14 grandchildren. He is a retired family physician. He is a parishioner at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, an officer in the Catholic Physician’s Guild, and a member of the Knights of Columbus. Opinions expressed are the writers' and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.

1 COMMENT

  1. I think that the Catholic laymen that have been paying attention know that this whole thing is not an ‘aberration’. I don’t know the medical world and I don’t know any doctors, but I’ve heard about this procedure for 20 years. As one person, I only do what one guy can do. That is vote pro-life, donate to pro-life organizations, and speak up whenever appropriate. I’ve never heard in Mass or our nation’s bishops use the words, “Clip the SPINAL CORD after they’re born.” God Help Us! JO

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