Richard Land: When Does a Human Become Human?

pregnant belly
The guilty verdict for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has spurred a new conversation in America about the sanctity of human life. (Graphic-girl /

The guilty verdict for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has spurred a new conversation in America about the sanctity of human life. Last week’s conviction of Gosnell on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies has many asking when life begins—and how we can protect it in the future. Among them is Richard Land, newly appointed president-elect of Southern Evangelical Seminary, a leader in apologetics education.

Last week, Gosnell, 72, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive in his West Philadelphia clinic. He was acquitted of killing a fourth newborn during an illegal late-term abortion in a dirty clinic that served mostly low-income women and teens and went years without a state inspection.

After 10 days of deliberation, the jury also found Gosnell guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient who died from an overdose of sedatives. Gosnell was sentenced to three life terms in prison without parole. It has been widely reported that Gosnell performed 40,136 abortions in his clinic from 1988 to 2009.

“This trial—and last week’s conviction and sentencing—has opened many eyes to what is really happening in the seedy underground world of abortion,” Land comments. “This very sad, disturbing and grotesque story is the knife’s edge of the abortion issue. Abortion is one of the most profound issues of our time, and the case of Kermit Gosnell, his disgusting abortion clinic and the horrors that went on there have rekindled a much-needed discussion on abortion in America.”

Land says the Gosnell trial, guilty verdict and sentencing of Gosnell to three life terms in prison has brought to light three questions that beg answers from all Americans:

1) What is a human being?

2) When does it become one?

3) When does it cease to become a human being?

“Headlines from Dr. Gosnell’s trial have forced many of us to reconsider how we think about the beginning and end of human life,” Land continues. “These three little babies were born alive in Gosnell’s clinic, and a jury of his peers found that this doctor ignored their whimpers and chose to end their short lives in the most callous and unfeeling way. Certainly the fate of this abortionist will cause many Americans to ask what they can do to protect our most innocent lives and help these little souls who can’t help themselves—just as their precious lives are beginning.”

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