I will begin this simply. There is no excuse for the actions that took place in Doctor (if you can even call him that) Gosnell’s “Women’s Medical Society.” The heinous acts of murder, negligence and greed will offend anyone and prove to show that this problem is not about abortion, it is about the lackadaisical functioning and oversight of a bureaucracy run amok.
While pro-lifers will use this incident as a rallying cry to garner support for their cause, the true underpinnings of the crimes that occurred on 3801 Lancaster Street in Philadelphia will be soon forgotten due to the political turmoil surrounding abortion in the United States. We need to set aside the differences in this case and look directly at the cause, not the outcome.
After reading all 281 pages of The Report of The Grand Jury, “In Re County Investigating Grand Jury XXIII, MISC. NO. 0009901-2008,” (available for free download here).
I can say with trepidation that the media hasn’t even begun to touch the horrors that happened in this clinic. The Grand Jury Report includes several pictures that show mountains of fetal remains piled up in a basement like a scene from a bad horror movie.
I began reading the first few pages, and even throughout the worst of it, continually kept looking for evidence that this whole thing was the most elaborate and well-constructed propaganda forgery. It is not; all of what you see in the papers and on TV is true.
Seven babies were born alive, and were summarily murdered just after they left the womb. Never mind the reason their mothers were in an abortion clinic to begin with, that is not what matters here. I’m not going to go into the political debate of abortion, but the law, nationwide says that abortion is illegal after 24 weeks. On several of Gosnell’s charts and in witness testimony it is stated that Gosnell routinely aborted viable fetuses after this period, and what’s more, he did it in a way that was harmful to the mother.
In a routine abortion at or around the 24 week mark, the expert witness testimony in the Grand Jury Report states that typically the mother is heavily sedated or knocked out completely, while the procedure takes place by an OB/GYN who has been clinically trained to perform what is essentially surgery. In Gosnell’s clinic, not only was Gosnell not even an OB/GYN, he was not certified, and did not even use basic medical practices when performing any abortions.
Instead of properly sedating his patients, he would often leave that job up to untrained office staff. “They administered drugs to induce labor, often causing rapid and painful dilation and contractions. But Gosnell did not like it when women screamed or moaned in his clinic, so the staff was under instruction to sedate them into stupor. Of course his assistants had no idea how to manage the powerful narcotics they were using.”
Gosnell and his staff had a term for when more often than not, women would go into full labor and deliver while Gosnell was away from the office. They called it “precipitating,” because often the fetus would drop right out of the woman, who would be left alone in the waiting room or in the bathroom for hours waiting for the doctor to come. The janitor had to remove several toilets because often women would “precipitate” over them and caused large irremovable clogs in the plumbing.
This isn’t even the worst of it. The problem with all of this—the untrained staff, the filthy clinic, the lack of basic medical necessities—is that it was overlooked by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on two separate occasions and hadn’t had an inspection in nearly 20 years. The bureaucracy created by politicians allowed this to happen. The director of the Pennsylvania Department of Health was one of the very same people who had signed off on it in the 90s as being acceptable.
The chain of command in the governmental policy lead to this direct oversight and allowed Gosnell’s charlatan practice to continue for over two decades unchecked and uninspected, despite several complaints from patients, doctors and other health officials. No one wanted to “rock the boat” and prevent the carnage of the clinic because, deep down, the attitude was that “Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that. But we think this was something more. We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion” (Section One of the Grand Jury Report, Overview, Page 13).
Gosnell’s trial will continue, and a verdict will eventually be reached concerning him, his staff and the victims’ lives they took. Abortion rights, and whether or not it is “right” or “wrong” shouldn’t be the main concern in this instance. We should, as a society, be looking at who let this happen for so long and the reasons behind it.
“Let us say right up front that we realize this case will be used by those on both sides of the abortion debate. We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion. 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” (Section One of the Grand Jury Report, Overview, Page 1.)
Gosnell’s name will go down in history with the likes of Gacy and Dahmer. He is a serial killer, who enjoyed killing for the fun of it. He kept trophies, and generally didn’t care about the consequences of his actions. He was there to make money and nothing more. Women everywhere need to be aware of those that will take advantage of them. Gosnell is an extreme case, but letting anyone control your body other than you is a heinous act. Make sure that no matter what you do, you feel it is the right decision for you, and not for someone else’s benefit.