The Gosnell Movie

I did not want to see this movie. Despite its PG-13 rating, I knew that it would be distressing. How could it not be? Dr. Kermit Gosnell was a prolific abortionist sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. He was convicted for (among other things) murdering three infants and of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient at his clinic.

The reason that I am posting this as a Practical Parenting column as well as a Musing is that I recommend you take the parental guidance part of the movie’s rating very seriously. I would not have wanted to see this movie when I was pregnant or nursing. If my child’s youth group was going to see it, I would try, at a minimum, to see it myself first and decide if it is appropriate for my child. In Hollywood’s world, gore and violence are routine, so to them this movie may seem unremarkable, but the subject matter is mature and the visual impact is powerful.

The Gosnell trial is relatively recent history and the movie’s producers make clear that most of the material is drawn from transcripts and police reports. I knew of the trial and how unprofessionally the press tried to ignore it. It was a fight to produce the movie as well, and there is no question that there is a strong cultural attempt to suppress it. Each and every person who acted in or worked on the film is a hero because there will be ramifications to his or her career.

The movie is gripping. I am not qualified to write a review that talks about the acting, directing, musical score or other aspects. I can only say that the movie touched and disturbed me deeply. Concern that this might happen, of course, is exactly why I didn’t want to see it.

So, why did I make myself view it? I did not see it to pat myself on the back for being pro-life. Kermit Gosnell was not on trial for performing legal abortions. He was either a very disturbed or a very evil man – probably both. I know caring and good people who support abortion. None of them would defend his actions. To say that his clinic was unsanitary is a gross understatement. He reused instruments intended for single use, had unqualified teenagers dispensing anesthesia and drugs and killed babies who were born alive. Indeed, he was convicted precisely because he broke the law.

If that is so, why is it so important to so many news outlets, newspapers, media influencers and politicians that people not see this movie? I think it is because Kermit Gosnell is not the only bad guy in this story. The government of Pennsylvania, its politicians, health department and social services failed the women of that state, especially low-income minorities. Because they saw abortion as a sacred cow that must not be questioned, they did not carry out inspections or respond to complaints. Laboring under a false, sanctimonious belief that nothing must prevent women’s access to an abortion clinic, they all but guaranteed that women would be abused. Were it not for the relentless political pressure of the pro-choice movement, Kermit Gosnell would have had his medical license revoked. Were it not for the importance of abortion to secular society, Gosnell’s practice would have been closed. The records make clear that nail salons received more scrutiny than abortion clinics. Had Gosnell not been protected in this way, lives would have been saved.

This movie is disturbing as well because, today, abortion is light years away from how it was understood in Roe v Wade.  Abortion today is a widely accepted and celebrated culture. Furthermore, science, in its understanding of the fetus and its ability to treat newborns born prematurely, is worlds away from 1973. The description of legal abortions in the trial was unsettling. 

Very few people today actually look at abortion with rational and probing minds. It is a sacred sacrament of the Left, not open to debate. The good people I know who are pro-choice will need to ask themselves and answer serious questions if they see this movie. Not questions about Kermit Gosnell and his actions, but tremendously uncomfortable questions about the entire pro-choice movement and about legally sanctioned abortion. No wonder so many want to keep this movie under wraps.

As an adult citizen of a country in which abortion is legal, I felt obligated to see this movie. I believe that any honest pro-choice individual who squirms at the current suggestion that having an abortion is a reason for pride or a wonderful rite of passage should see Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer (an unfortunate subtitle in my opinion). Despite the reservations I expressed at the beginning of this Musing, I would use every bit of parental pressure at my hands to make sure that any college-aged student or older child of mine saw it.  Because of cultural repression, that isn’t going to be easy. That, in itself, should encourage all principled and open-minded people to make the effort.

On another note: I am friends with many of you on Facebook. Due to changes on that platform I will now be posting my Susan’s Musings, Ask the Rabbi (and me!) and Practical Parenting posts on my new page instead. Find out when there are new posts by following me here.

31 thoughts on “The Gosnell Movie”

  1. Susan,
    interested in your Facebook page. Clicked the link and found nothing.
    Hoping they didn’t close your page.

  2. Edward Rubinstein

    Hello Susan,

    I hadn’t gotten a chance to read this Musing until after I heard you on the Rabbi’s weekly podcast where you spoke about the movie. Excellent, excellent discussion and points. In the podcast, however, I believe you misspoke when you said that the PA governor was a pro-life Republican. I believe you meant pro-choice Republican.

    1. Absolutely right, Edward.. if he was pro-life the abortion clinics might have been held to at least some standards.

  3. When out daughter brought her new born baby girl home for us to admire, it was a surprise to me, I didn’t even know that she was pregnant. My wife knew and everyone else, it seemed, but me. My wife and daughter had to make a short trip, so I was left holding my granddaughter. I was brought to tears when I looked upon this beautiful, perfectly formed, tiny baby. I guess they were tears of joy because my daughter had decided to bring this baby into this world and not abort it.

  4. My Review: I had the privilege of watching a sneak preview of the movie “Gosnell – The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer”. It was out of a sense of duty that I went, certainly not a desire to see details on one of the most horrific murderers of newly born children. After all, I hadn’t been able to finish the book. Not because the book was boring or hard to read, but the details of the inhumanity of so many people was very draining. So I went, not knowing if I would have to leave part way through. I am happy to report that I easily made it through all the movie. The producers have done an excellent job of making a movie that is not boring, very viewable, and gets across some very salient points. It is not a documentary, but a way to bring to light some very important facts that the state run media would like to keep covered up. It is a movie you can recommend to your friends. It is rated PG-13. It is appropriate for teenagers that are aware of abortion. The trailer at gives an accurate representation of the movie. I highly recommend you support this movie, and if you cry at movies, bring extra tissues. I “dragged” my wife to the movie last Friday. She was afraid of what she might see. Afterwards, she said she was very glad I convinced her to come. It is not a movie you go to be entertained, but a movie you go to so all those victims will not be forgotten again. They were forgotten shortly after birth and they were forgotten again at the trial. Let them not be forgotten by people not seeing the movie.

  5. If you have not read “The Walls Are Talking” by Abby Johnson, it is well worth it as she had worked in an abortion clinic for eight years. She also includes experiences of others who have worked in the industry.

  6. Excellent opinion as usual. I enjoy readying your postings.
    But, instead of labeling those who believe in abortion as pro-choice isn’t right. I believe they should be labeled pro-abortion.

    1. You are right, Richard. I use pro-choice since I think some people will just stop reading at the words pro-abortion.

  7. It’s ironic that the left describes the energy industry as “Big Oil”, the pharmaceutical industry as “Big Pharma” and the banking and financial sector as “Wall Street”, and implies that all of these special interests are working against the “little guy.” But use the same terminology with regard to abortion (and I have described it as an industry), and they flinch. The Gosnell incident should point out that abortion IS big business, abortion rights advocates are a large and powerful special interest and the industry tends to work against the best interests of women while touting itself as an advocate for womens’ rights.

  8. Here is the text of a message I sent to a friend of mine as well as everyone on my contacts list the day after I saw the movie:

    Okay, so It’s ‘the morning after’. I went to see Gosnell yesterday and I feel like I’m in some sort of a recovery room myself. If you haven’t heard the story, you’re certainly not alone. If you have heard the story but haven’t seen the film, you’re not much better informed.

    This movie is absolutely NOT a ‘pro-life’ documentary and has little to nothing to do with abortion. It does, however, reveal just how sick, twisted, vile and a-moral segments of our population have become. The media, the medical profession and the ‘progressives’ who control the purse strings of those industries and whose ideals have become a powerful and pervasive influence on our politics and reflected in our judicial system at all levels, is laid bare in all its glory in a low budget film that is orders of magnitude bigger than the screen upon which it was shown.

    You know I am an atheist. I think you also know I absolutely support a women’s right to choose to have an abortion. I think you also know that I have a working moral compass that generally points in a healthy direction. Yet I find myself sitting here this morning with that queasy feeling you got in your stomach the first time you stole some candy and got away with the crime. Remember? Even as you consumed the coveted prize, that raspberry twizzler just didn’t taste quite the same. Well, that’s sort of how this movie left me feeling and I have a pretty good idea that it has had a similar effect on everyone who has taken the time to go to see it (or at least I hope so).

    Forget the reviews. Go and see this film. It does NOT contain graphic depictions of a medical procedure nor the gore of the by-products (I’m the guy who refused to pith a frog in honors biology and couldn’t look at the color cross sections of a human body, so I know what I am talking about here). But what it DOES DO is provide a cool, calm, insightful and matter-of-fact explanation of the procedure which, taken in the context of late term abortions, makes the reason to re-visit Roe v. Wade crystal clear for me while simultaneously inducing a deep sense of shame for not having reasoned my way to that same place before.

    In terms of cinematography, it’s probably a ‘C’. In terms of the courtroom scenes, it plays more like an episode of Judge Judy or The People’s Court (it ain’t no Perry Mason). However, it is billed and has been generally accepted as an accurate portrayal of the actual characters and events. Because of this fact, it stands as a strong and powerful statement about the need for all of us to check our moral compasses which clearly need to be re-calibrated on a myriad of issues.

    And, possibly most importantly of all, this movie illustrates the need for everyone to vote. If it should come to pass that the majority of the creatures who inhabit this country do, in fact, support the party line of Hollywood, late-night talk show hosts, CNN, MSNBC, and all things currently ‘democrat’, then I’m afraid we have lost all sense of morality, justice, and common sense.

    Please, go and see this movie and encourage everyone you know to do the same. If you do, and if you don’t agree with my assessment of the film, I will refund your ticket price, popcorn and one (1) drink, in cash, no receipt or proof of purchase required because I trust you (as well as all the bcc’s). And while I may be a hapless fool for doing so, I would like to think there is still hope for the curious little creature called ‘man’.

  9. Thanks Susan. I didn’t want to see it because I was afraid it would give me nightmares. I was afraid it would be too graphic. I think you are right about supporting this movie.

  10. Michael Overstreet

    Susan thank you for your courage to bring light upon this gross disservice to mankind.

    The hypocrisy of those who support abortion while opposing the death penalty is mind boggling. While on the same level, those who support abortion oppose legalized prostitution. We can’t have it both ways and these examples bear witness for the morals, ethics and values found in Torah.

    The Book of Psalms teaches us with good merit to trust not in men or nobles but only rather in G-d.

    I believe the examples above are for good reason. Thanks for your courage!

  11. It is scary that abortions can be done so late in pregnancy. I know a woman who both works and goes to college and she was born at 23 weeks gestation. She is fine and no one would ever know that she was born 4 months early.

    1. That is one of the crazy things, Leah. The science is so different from 1973, but in this case we are supposed to ignore science.

  12. I have supported this movie from the beginning and plan to see it, without reservation! The Lord will do what He will with it…

  13. I, and my parents, are going to see this movie tomorrow.

    I followed this trial – thanks to Operation Rescue and Cheryl Sullenger

    Gosnell is not the exception – he is the rule

    PLEASE look up Operation Rescue (it is a .org rather than .com)

    May God have mercy on us

  14. Thanks for addressing this. I haven’t seen the movie but will make every effort to after reading your article.

    1. I think it is important that we support this movie, Kathy. If for no other reason than not to let powerful interests dictate what they will allow us to see – the movie has had ads rejected etc.

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