Accused murderer and Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell was one of the pioneers of the abortion movement, but not a good one. The Philadelphia Grand Jury report that led to his indictment on 7 counts of murder in the deaths of infants at his his Philadelphia clinic reads like one of the best true crime stories. USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers and PolicyMic's own James Velasquez have asked why the unbelievable horror of the Gosnell death clinic has not been covered more in major media outlets.
The reasons why this story has not been properly covered read like a laundry list of what's wrong in America.
1. Racism Against Victims:
Most of Gosnell's victims were poor women of color. Karnamaya Mongar, the 41-year-old victim whose death prompted the Philadelphia Grand Jury investigation that led to the indictment of Gosnell and others who worked at the clinic, was a Nepalese refugee whose petite size and inability to speak English contributed to her death from an overdose of drugs administered by untrained, unlicensed clinic staff.
2. Racism Against Legal Professionals:
Seth Williams, the first African-American elected as District Attorney in Philadelphia, issued the Grand Jury report which clearly identifies the two decades of government failures in the Gosnell abortion clinic horror. Nearly 100 pages are devoted to explaining exactly how Gosnell's clinic remained open for two decades. The report singles out specific officials from the Pennsylvania Departments of Health and State, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and how each failed to do his or her sworn duty to uphold the law after repeated reports of criminal activities at the clinic including multiple injuries, deaths, and credible reports of aborted fetuses in lunch room refrigerators. The report never states that Gosnell paid officials to leave his clinic alone, but the conclusion is almost inescapable. DA Williams' outrage and writing talent are palpable throughout the document. No major media outlets have told the story of the monumental investigation that produced the Grand Jury report. From the perspective of media outlets like the New York Times, it is as if Williams did no work at all when in fact, he is a hero, the man who finally acted to stop the horror.
3. Abortion Rights? Or Callousness and Apathy:
Some media outlets like Jezebel have preferred to cover the case from the "abortion rights" angle, stating that the reason Gosnell operated his house of horrors (aside from the millions he made, also detailed in the Grand Jury report) was that right to life advocates prevented poor women from getting safe abortions, so they had no choice but to visit the deadly, filthy clinic. Patients had many alternatives to Gosnell's clinic. Gosnell charged more than others, ripped everyone off for years, and provided potentially life-threatening services. In 2009, following the death of Karnamaya Mongar, who could not speak English to question the administration of drugs that were killing her, Gosnell sought membership in a professional standards organization, the National Abortion Federation. The NAF inspector declared Gosnell's clinic the worst such facility the inspector had ever seen, documenting dozens of safety and health violations. Like so many others who encountered Gosnell over the years, despite being horrified at the clinic, the NAF inspector took no further action after declining Gosnell's application for membership.
This writing is delicate and almost respectful of Gosnell. No one reading the Grand Jury report prepared by DA Seth Williams would have any doubt as to why Gosnell "snipped" the necks of babies born alive. Gosnell had no interest in providing "the correct drugs," because they cost money. His assistants weren't "often" unlicensed and untrained, none were licensed or trained. Gosnell induced labor, then killed, because he was not just a murderer, he was cheap.
Some people say that the "solution" to Gosnell's criminal enterprise is "more funding for abortions." Even this disingenuous article in The Atlantic makes it clear that the $300 abortion the young homeless woman needed would not have been provided by Gosnell's clinic — unless the woman waited until it was "too late." Gosnell took full advantage of many programs offering to pay for abortions for those who could not afford them; again — not because there were no other clinics, but because he was a greedy predator. The Grand Jury report documents how Gosnell charged unwary government and charitable organizations for numerous procedures never performed, such as immunizations. Gosnell's prices were far higher than other providers regardless of quality, and many in the area provided and continue to provide safe, quality care.
4. Real Train Wrecks Are Horrible:
My grandfather resigned his position in the San Bernardino County Sheriff's office after he and his deputies were required to shovel the remains of a man hit by a train off the tracks. In similar fashion, no one wants to look at the pictures of what Gosnell did. Few, if any, media outlets have reported one of the most horrendous personal stories related to Gosnell's clinic. Ashley Baldwin, whose mother Tina Baldwin worked for Gosnell for years, began working at Gosnell's clinic in 2007 as a 15 year old sophomore in high school. Ashley worked up to 50 hours a week while still attending high school, and eventually administered medication, witnessed numerous abortions, and saw babies born alive, then killed.
Gosnell had a long history in the abortion industry. On Mother's Day in 1972, he implanted an experimental device called a "super coil" into 15 pregnant women who had been bused to his clinic from Chicago. The "super coil" was comprised of a soluble gel which held numerous plastic razors. Upon contact with body heat, the gel was supposed to melt, releasing the razors to cut up the fetus in the woman's uterus. Nine of the 15 women were severely injured in this "experimental" use of a device that anyone with common sense would find more fitting for an Eli Roth film rather than a medical clinic.
Past performance is always the best indicator of future behavior. So Gosnell continued in this manner until 2010 when a federal drug investigation shut the clinic.
5. Drugs and Money:
Kermit Gosnell is on trial for the worst of his crimes: the murder of living infants born at his clinic. He didn't do "botched abortions," he finally grew so greedy, crazed and callous he simply induced labor and then killed the babies. He earned an estimated $1.8 million a year from performing abortions three nights a week at the clinic, and much more from prescribing Oxycontin and other drugs. He was "one of the top three prescribers of Oxycontin in the state," according to the Grand Jury report. The Atlantic reported on the separate DEA investigation into Gosnell's lucrative prescription mill.
There is nothing good about the story of Kermit Gosnell, except the fact that Seth Williams and the DEA stopped him. In few cases in recent history have so many failed to do even the basic aspects of their jobs for so long, and so much misery been the result.