Abbie Waters blogs about reproductive health at Fertility Nation.
I only recently became aware of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, a physician charged with seven first-degree murder charges related to the deaths of seven viable babies, and one third-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, an immigrant woman from Nepal. I’ve been following the story and wanted to share what I’ve learned from updates and reactions to the story from across the blogosphere and MSM.
Mongar died November 20, 2009, after overdosing on anesthetics prescribed by the doctor, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. Williams called the facility “a house of horrors” that performed “botched and illegal abortions” and that was full of containers of fetuses’ body parts.
Ghalley agreed, telling CNN “the clinic was so dirty, filthy with blood stains and a dirty floor, everywhere dirty, I cannot describe how dirty it was.”
According to the grand jury report [PDF] released this week by Philadelphia prosecutors, Pennsylvania health officials deliberately chose not to enforce laws to ensure that abortion clinics provide the same level of care as other medical service providers.
…the grand jury’s nearly 300-page report also contains a surprising and little-noted revelation: In the mid-1990s, the administration of Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, ended regular inspections of abortion clinics—a policy that continued until just last year.
The District Attorney’s office this week charged an abortion doctor, Kermit Gosnell, with murder and infanticide. Nine other workers at the abortion clinic, the Women’s Medical Society, also face charges. According to the prosecutors, Gosnell and his associates not only broke state law by performing abortions after 24 weeks—they also killed live babies by stabbing them with scissors and cutting their spinal cords. Law enforcement officials found blood-stained furniture, unsterilized instruments and fetal remains scattered about the clinic. At least one woman, a refugee from Nepal, had died under Gosnell’s care after being given repeated injections of a dangerous sedative. Prosecutors said Gosnell made millions from treating and sometimes maiming his patients, who were mostly low-income, minority women .
But perhaps most frightening of all? The atrocities were discovered by accident , as the Philadelphia Inquirer points out. Warnings—from patients and their attorneys, a doctor at a Philadelphia hospital, women’s health groups, pro-choice groups, and even an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—failed to prompt state and local authorities to investigate or take action against the clinic.
The grand jury report said that one look at the place would have detected the problems, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health hadn’t inspected the place since 1993. Here’s the grand jury report, in surprisingly strong language:
The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions.
“Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety,” the report states. “Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer.”
The pro-life movement has focused its efforts on making access to safe abortions as difficult as possible. They have advocated laws requiring waiting periods and mandatory ultrasound pictures, as if the desperate women haven’t already agonized over their unplanned pregnancies.
Those same opponents have pushed restrictions on clinics and abortion providers in an effort to drive them out of business, refusing to accept the fact that outlawing abortion will never eliminate its practice.
Gosnell’s alleged crimes should sicken and sadden every American, but they also should serve as a reminder and lesson of what happened before abortion was safe and legal – and as a warning of what could happen once again.
It’s amazing what cognitive dissonance can do: Liberals reacting to the news of the Philadelphia Horror with hairsplitting about what was actually so horrible about Kermit Gosnell’s abortion “clinic.” Some say it’s horrifying that Gosnell ran such a “crappy clinic.” Or that it’s awful so many had to rely on it because of poor “access,” referring critically to the Hyde Amendment which prohibits taxpayer funding for abortions.
But the federal government already funnels money for that purpose. Planned Parenthood performs 62 abortions (305,310 abortions in 2008) for each adoption it facilitates, and from 2007 to 2008, $350 million in “government grants and contracts” went to its general fund. Taxpayers may not be paying for the service, but they’re helping to keep the lights on, which is hardly the desert of reproductive freedom in which feminists we live.
Interesting that Fox doesn’t mention GOP governor Tom Ridge chose to end inspections of abortion clinics in Pennsylvania, a choice that made it possible for Gosnell to work undetected for years.