"Among the relatively few cases that could be specifically documented, one was Baby Boy A. His 17-year-old mother was almost 30 weeks pregnant – seven and a half months – when labor was induced. An employee estimated his birth weight as approaching six pounds. He was breathing and moving when Dr. Gosnell severed his spine and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal."
As was his wont, Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell would try to lighten the mood with a bit joking. Boy A was, he said, "big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop."
But Boy A will never have that chance. The good doctor saw to that.
Dr. Gosnell was the operator of an abortion mill – this was no clinic – located in West Philadelphia called the "Women's Medical Society" and set up in 1972. He was a product of the local neighborhood, and he had spent almost four decades running his establishment – "giving back" to the community he grew up in.
Of course, he had a peculiar form of charity: "Infant beheadings. Severed baby feet in jars. A child screaming after it was delivered alive during an abortion procedure." Gosnell's mill was known for its willingness to carry out late-term abortions – the illegal practice (in Pennsylvania) of killing a child after the initial 24 weeks of pregnancy. Indeed, as word spread about the doctor's services, women would come from all around to enjoy the benefit of his service.
"His patients came from several states," the Grand Jury Report notes, "including Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, as well as from Pennsylvania cities outside the Philadelphia area, such as Allentown. He also had many late-term Philadelphia patients because most other local clinics would not perform procedures past 20 weeks."
Despite the popularity, Dr. Gosnell's offices were far from presentable.
"There was blood on the floor," witnesses reported. "A stench of urine filled the air. A flea-infested cat was wandering through the facility, and there were cat feces on the stairs. Semi-conscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets."
But despite the awful conditions, the illegal practices, and the innumerable women and children who were both injured and killed as a result of Gosnell's actions, the man was still able to operate for almost 40 years. The reason is a combination of politics, prejudice, and plain negligence.
After approving the Women's Medical Society to open an abortion clinic in 1979, the Pennsylvania Department of Health apparently conducted no site reviews for another 10 years. In both 1992 and 1993, Gosnell's mill was guilty of "numerous violations," but was allowed to stay open on the promise that he would go about fixing them.
"After 1993, however, even that pro forma effort came to an end. Not because of administrative ennui, although there had been plenty. Instead, 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."
And if there is one thing democratic societies hate, it's barriers. The clinic was also a popular site for poorer and minority "customers" to seek abortions — a fact which, unfortunately, also tends to draw less attention from officials.
In short, "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."
So despite countless appeals, complaints, warnings, and deaths, the Gosnell mill continued to operate until February 18, 2010, when an FBI raid of the offices was executed on reports of "illegal prescription activity." What they found, of course, was much worse.
The official trial of Dr. Gosnell opened on March 18 this year, to something of a major media blackout. While it is not surprising that our friends on the left want to avoid this incident, it does occasionally hurt to have such suspicions confirmed. He faces seven counts of first-degree murder and multiple counts of "conspiracy, criminal solicitation and violation of a state law" forbidding abortions after 24 weeks.
But to end on a personal note: this is an awful, terrible story. There is no redemption to it. Lives were ended in the most disgraceful of ways. As human beings, we attach meaning to the deaths of loved ones because we see meaning in their lives; so when a life ends, something truly significant is lost. We are even known to bury our pets with love and ceremony: it is a part of the human elevation of being. It is part of our unique place in the world.
Dr. Gosnell saw none of that. He joked as his drove scissors into the backs of baby necks, kept parts of human beings stored away in jars, shoeboxes, or plastic bags piled up in the basement, and let newborns drop into toilets so that they would occasionally clog up the plumbing. He did this for himself – his own greed and glee.
So please, share this story and get the word out. Whether you think all abortionists are going to hell or that a child only becomes "human" after the magical barrier of 24 weeks – we can all agree that this man is both bad and evil. He is wrong, and as a society, we must not be caught doing nothing.