What legal abortion has wrought: Kermit Gosnell

Kermit Gosnell

Kermit Gosnell

A murder trial in Philadelphia has shocked and horrified the nation.

Well, perhaps not everyone; the weekslong trial of Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell, charged with seven murders, hasn't seemed to interest the major media, (See also: Washington PostUSA Today and Slate)despite the grisly nature of his alleged crimes. Could it be because Gosnell is an abortionist, who has been accused of murdering children born alive at his grossly misnamed Women's Medical Society abortion clinic in the City of Brotherly Love? So, I'll leave to the grand jury (the full report is here) the gruesome job of describing his house of horrors. (Warning: The graphic nature may offend.)

After detailing the death of a 41-year-old woman who was grossly overmedicated, the grand jury said, "At least one other mother died following an abortion in which Gosnell punctured her uterus and then sent her home. He left an arm and a leg of a partially aborted fetus in the womb of another woman, and then told her he did not need to see her when she became sick days later, having developed a temperature of 106 degrees. He perforated bowels, cervixes and uteruses. He left women sterile. He also killed live, viable, moving, breathing, crying babies. He killed them by cutting their spinal cords after their mothers had delivered them after receiving excessive amounts of medication designed to induce active labor."

And this: "Gosnell and his employees performed abortions long after the legal limit. The doctor's unorthodox methods, Gosnell reportespecially with late second-trimester and third-trimester pregnancies, virtually mandated the premature delivery of live babies — whose spinal cords he would then routinely slit."

Or this:

"(T)he truth was evident to anyone who stepped inside. The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment — such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff — was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn't used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains. It was a baby charnel house."

The indictment by the Philadelphia district attorney's office described how Gosnell often did late-term abortions on "live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care. ... Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: He killed them. ... He called it 'ensuring fetal demise.'" He ensured that by "sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that 'snipping.'"

The indictment called his practice "murder in plain sight." "Boy A" was nearly 6 pounds, the son of a 17-year-old mother almost 30 weeks pregnant. Presented with a living, breathing infant after inducing labor, Gosnell, as was his practice, severed the spine and "put the body in a plastic shoe box for disposal. The doctor joked that this baby was so big he 'could walk me to the bus stop. '" Baby Boy B's body was found frozen in a 1-gallon spring water bottle. Baby C was moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an assistant cut the spinal cord.

Gosnell and three members of his staff are charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and various other crimes, including infanticide, illegal late-term abortions and corruption of a minor. The grand jury said it was confident that these were not the only crimes but that Gosnell had destroyed his records.

Pro-life advocates have been pounding the media for failing to give the same kind of attention to Gosnell's trial as to trials involving other ghoulish crimes. They're right, but that's a distraction that pro-choice advocates will use to divert attention from the monstrosity of Gosnell's acts.

The issue is the lives that were ended or ruined. Besides that is the question of why Gosnell got away with his horrific acts for so many years.

Read the grand jury's report and you'll agree that some state health authorities in Pennsylvania should be considered criminally negligent.

Next week: How do we know it's not happening in other abortion clinics?

This column also appeared in the Chicago Tribune

 
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  • Actually, what legal abortion has actually wrought is the rarity of the conditions you describe, including incompetent practitioners, filthy environments and unsterilized instruments. Unless you think women would be better off on kitchen tables having coat hangers inserted in their uteri by somebody's brother with some paramedic training, your own argument supports continued legal abortion.

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