After a full and fair trial, abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was convicted this week on three counts of first-degree murder in the killing of three babies whose necks he “snipped,” as well as involuntary manslaughter in the death of patient Karnamaya Mongar. Gosnell, who performed hundreds of gruesome and macabre abortions out of his Women’s Medical Society Clinic, managed to skirt the death penalty when he agreed to forego an appeal in exchange for a life sentence. The sentencing brings to end a trial that revealed the grisly practices of Gosnell and his staff. But more disturbing is the grotesque lack of oversight and action by the bureaucrats who knew what was happening, and whose responsibility it was to protect the women and infants Gosnell murdered and maimed.
Gosnell spent nearly forty years running his clinic. According to the grand jury report, during that time he performed hundreds of abortions on women who were well past Pennsylvania’s gestational stage for legal abortion, inducing labor and snipping the spinal cord of babies that were born alive. The procedures were filthy, frequently botched, and sent dozens of women to the emergency room with severe infections that left some near death. Anesthetics were frequently overused, which is what led to Karnamaya’s eventual overdose and death. The list of horrors goes on and on, but we’ll spare you further gory details.
This is bad enough on its own, but Gosnell and his trail of carnage could have been stopped decades ago if public oversight organizations had acted they way they’re supposed to. According to the grand jury report, when the Pennsylvania Department of Health performed its first inspection in 1989, ten years after the clinic was founded, it found numerous violations. Gosnell promised to fix them and received a pass. Upon the next inspection in 1992 and 1993, the Department of Health again found violations, but did nothing to ensure that they were corrected. Inspections then ceased for 17 years, largely due to the election of pro-choice Republican Governor Tom Ridge, who ended all inspections of abortion clinics because that would be “putting a barrier up to women.” Meanwhile, dozens of Gosnell-related complaints were flowing into the DoH. But even when it received notice of Mongar’s death, the department failed to act.
Nearly ten years ago the Pennsylvania Department of State received a detailed report on the entire scope of Gosnell’s operation from a former employee. An investigator was assigned to the case but neglected to inspect the facility or question other employees. Department attorneys dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.
The Philadelphia Health Department regularly visited Gosnell’s clinic to retrieve blood samples but never reported that anything was out of the ordinary. But Gosnell conducted his obscene practices so openly and brazenly that he was eventually caught by accident. When police raided the clinic to “seize evidence of his illegal prescription selling,” they immediately discovered, to their horror, “discarded fetuses,” “dazed patients,” and unsanitary conditions including “blood on the floor” and a smell of “urine in the air.” How the Philadelphia Health Department failed to notice (or report) this sight after repeated visits and numerous complaints is anyone’s guess.
If Gosnell had merely flown under the radar, it would be possible to believe that this was an isolated case. But the sheer number of repeated regulatory failures that allowed this to continue for decades suggests that Gosnell is just the tip of the iceberg. Already, similar stories are beginning to come to the fore. Last year, an AP investigation discovered that some abortion clinics in Illinois hadn’t been inspected for 10 to 15 years. A National Review investigation looked into three Florida abortion clinics whose practices eerily resembled those of Gosnell. Fetal remains were strewn about the clinic. Women were left maimed or sterile. As the clinics repeatedly came under scrutiny, they shut down and reopened under different names. Doctors often escaped penalization and kept their licenses.
Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique, one doctor at the clinic who murdered a baby shortly after its birth, finally lost his Florida license in 2009. After relocating to New York, he was allowed to continue practicing medicine, and his license was reinstated after the New York Department of Health determined that he “is a physician who provides excellent medical care to an inner city poor population. These patients should not be deprived of this valuable resource.”
Gosnell’s case has spurred departments and investigators across the country to cover their tracks. In the last month alone, Maryland officials shut down three abortion clinics, and Ohio officials shut down one.
Gosnell, though a villain in his own right, is also the product of a system that has recklessly abandoned its responsibilities to the public. That we live in a country that monitors the size of our sodas, but fails to monitor our abortion clinics, is a sign of broken politics. That inspections were ceased in an effort to protect women’s rights, only to lead to the egregious abuse of them, is a sign of broken advocacy. Questions need to be asked, gaps need to be filled, and some bureaucrats need to be fired or worse.
This is criminal and inhuman. It is astonishing that a country that calls itself civilized can tolerate the most horrible torture and murder of women and children, mostly minority, with, apparently, the knowing connivance of a “pro-choice” movement that has lost touch with reason and humanity. We would like to know a lot more about the leadership of organizations like Planned Parenthood. Did they know about the wide scale of unconscionable abuses in the shady abortion business? If not, they seem negligent and uninformed. If they knew and were silent, they connived at unspeakable acts.
This blog does not believe in banning abortion or in inserting government bureaucrats into every sexual choice women (and men for that matter) make. But an industry in which this kind of behavior can go on for so long with so little effort by health regulators, politicians or whistleblowers to end the madness is sick unto death. Big changes must come, and come fast.