Philadelphia abortionist faces 39 charges
in connection with death of woman, seven newborns

A Philadelphia abortionist has been arrested in connection to the murders of a pregnant woman and seven newborn babies in a case that has garnered international attention.

On Jan. 19, Kermit Gosnell, 69, wife Pearl, and eight other employee-accomplices were arrested in connection with the death of 41-year-old refugee, Karnamya Mongar and seven specific incidences in which Gosnell or an employee severed the spine of a viable born-alive baby with scissors. The babies were six to eight months gestation.

In total, Gosnell faces 39 criminal counts including third degree murder, seven counts of murder for killing living infants after birth, abuse of corpse, tampering with evidence, corruption, conspiracy, obstruction, racketeering, and solicitation for murder.

The charges against Gosnell and his nine accomplices were filed by District Attorney R. Seth Williams, following the recommendations of the Grand Jury investigation. The Philadelphia Inquirer, the local paper has had extensive coverage and newspapers around the globe including the National Post and Toronto Star have covered the news, but the most damning reading has been the 261-page Grand Jury report, following a year-long investigation.

The report stated “this is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women.” It went on to note: “What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.” The report called the “medical practice” Gosnell carried out, “a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.” Most damningly, it said that although “many people came to know that something was going on here … no one put a stop to it.”

The report continued: “When labor was induced and a baby was born, Dr. Gosnell would kill it by cutting into its neck and severing its spinal cord in a process he referred to as ‘snipping.’ In one case involving a 17-year-old who was 30 weeks pregnant, prosecutors said that Dr. Gosnell induced labor, severed the baby’s spine and put the body in a shoe box. The doctor joked that the baby was so big, ‘he could walk me to the bus stop’.”

The Grand Jury report reported: “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.” An investigation found that fetal remains clogged drains.

Twice in 2010 (Feb. 18 and Feb. 23) federal agents raided Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society and found “deplorable and unsanitary” conditions including blood on the floors, pieces of aborted children stored in jars; and post-operative recovery areas that consisted solely of recliners. It violated basic health and safety regulations including padlocked emergency exits and broken or unusable emergency equipment and having non-licensed staff administer controlled substances or gynaecological exams. Despite numerous complaints, it had not been inspected since 1993. Pennsylvania law requires regular inspection and approval of any facility where abortions are carried out.

Also according to state law, abortions committed after 24 weeks (after viability) are prohibited unless the doctor determines and reports to authorities that the abortion is necessary to save the life or health of the mother. Fetal tissue for abortions done after 20 weeks must be sent to a pathologist for review. Gosnell did not comply with these rules.

The Grand Jury accused the Health Department of “total abdication” of its responsibilities, visiting the physician’s clinic just three times from 1979 to 2010, despite numerous complaints about infected and injured women and squalid conditions in the facility. Newly elected Republican Governor Tom Corbett ordered his acting Secretaries of Health and State to investigate why neither department acted on the numerous complaints against Gosnell.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Gosnell was not trained as an obstetrician-gynecologist although he has been doing abortions since 1972 – pre-Roe v. Wade. The paper also reported that Gosnell was beset with controversy facing multiple lawsuits and settlements. The Associated Press reported that Gosnell has faced no less than ten malpractice lawsuits over the years. The Inquirer reported, “Gosnell also became more reckless in his abortion practice, which was hit by a $41,000 federal tax lien,” and that, “he couldn’t get doctors to refer patients because of his declining reputation.” He accepted women who could not get abortions elsewhere, especially women in their third trimester, out-of-state clients, immigrants and poor minorities.

The Grand Jury report said, “Gosnell’s approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low – and break the law. That was his competitive advantage.”

Denise Burke of Americans United for Life said the case “underscore(s) the need for more stringent regulation of abortion clinics and for more consistent and meaningful enforcement of these regulations by state officials.” She added: “Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic is not an aberration. Substandard and unsafe abortion clinics are currently operating across the nation.” Burke said legal abortion mills “have become the ‘back alleys’ that abortion advocates have long warned against.”

Burke said states need to provide thorough oversight of the abortion industry with regular and rigorous inspections and enforcement of health and safety regulations. She said that abortion advocates’ insistence that access is curtailed by such thorough regulations is nothing more than “self-serving politicization” of the issue that “must stop” because it ignores “the very real threats posed by all-too-common substandard abortion clinics and practices” that put women’s health and lives at risk.

Police only discovered the poor conditions and fetal remains after it began investigating Gosnell in connection with the physician’s involvement illegally distributing prescription pills.

The Grand Jury said that it was not trying to open a debate about abortion. “We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion,” the report states. “For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants. We find common ground in exposing what happened here, and in recommending measures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.”

Reached at the annual March for Life in Washington D.C., Rev. Johnny Hunter, who was keynote speaker at the international pro-life conference in Ottawa last October, noted, that in Virginia pro-life policy-makers are seeking to end abortion by insisting abortion sites meet regular medical clinic standards. “The butcher in Philadelphia is an example of why these places need to be shut down permanently,” said Hunter.

Hunter, a pro-life pastor and national director of the Life Education and Resource Network, said Gosnell did not serve, but rather preyed on black women. “Like the drug pushers in black neighbourhoods they have black skin, but they do not have black dignity. The black pimps, the black drug pushers as well as the black abortionist are traitors to the black community.”