Friday, January 21, 2011

This Should Really, Really Upset You

I know that many of my readers don't have a problem with abortion.  I think reading this grand jury report from Philadelphia will upset you--because here was someone for whom third trimester abortions, even though unlawful, did not get in his way of making money.  From the opening sentences of the report, on p. 1:
This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was 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. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.
And it gets worse--much worse, on p. 2:
The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again.  Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And 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.
Michelle Malkin has pictures of the baby feet in jars that Dr. Gosnell kept--supposedly for "research."  (Why does Dr. Mengele come to mind?)  Who ran this:
The people who ran this sham medical practice included no doctors other than Gosnell himself, and not even a single nurse. Two of his employees had been to medical school, but neither of them were licensed physicians. They just pretended to be.  Everyone called them “Doctor,” even though they, and Gosnell, knew they weren’t.  Among the rest of the staff, there was no one with any medical licensing or relevant certification at all. But that didn’t stop them from making diagnoses, performing procedures, administering drugs.
Reasons?  According to the grand jury, it wasn't concern about "a woman's right to choose":
Because the real business of the “Women’s Medical Society” was not health; it was profit. There were two primary parts to the operation. By day it was a prescription mill; by night an abortion mill. A constant stream of “patients” came through during business hours and, for the proper payment, left with scripts for Oxycontin and other controlled substances, for themselves and their friends. Gosnell didn’t see these “patients”; he didn’t even show up at the office during the day. He just left behind blank, pre-signed prescription pads, and had his unskilled, unauthorized workers take care of the rest. The fake prescriptions brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. But this drug-selling operation is the subject of separate investigation by federal authorities.


With abortion, as with prescriptions, Gosnell’s approach was simple: keep volume high, expenses low – and break the law. That was his competitive edge.


The real key to the business model, though, was this: Gosnell catered to the women who couldn’t get abortions elsewhere – because they were too pregnant. Most doctors won’t perform late second-trimester abortions, from approximately the 20th week of pregnancy, because of the risks involved. And late-term abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy are flatly illegal. But for Dr. Gosnell, they were an opportunity. The bigger the baby, the more he charged.
Now, Dr. Gosnell's problem was not just that he was performing third trimester abortions.  That would be illegal in Pennsylvania--so he had people fudge the ultrasound film (discussed on pp. 3-4).  The bigger problem is bigness:
Babies that big are hard to get out. Gosnell’s approach, whenever possible, was to force full labor and delivery of premature infants on ill-informed women. The women would check in during the day, make payment, and take labor-inducing drugs. The doctor wouldn’t appear until evening, often 8:00, 9:00, or 10:00 p.m., and only then deal with any of the women who were ready to deliver. Many of them gave birth before he even got there.  By maximizing the pain and danger for his patients, he minimized the work, and cost, for himself and his staff. The policy, in effect, was labor without labor.

There remained, however, a final difficulty. When you perform late-term “abortions” by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care. But that was not what the Women’s Medical Society was about. Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them. He didn’t call it that. He called it “ensuring fetal demise.” The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that “snipping.”
 Bad?  It gets worse.  Way worse.  After discussing the hundreds of such "snippings"--most of which can't be prosecuted because Gosnell destroyed the records:
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. The doctor joked that this baby was so big he could “walk me to the bus stop.” Another, Baby Boy B, whose body was found at the clinic frozen in a one-gallon spring-water bottle, was at least 28 weeks of gestational age when he was killed. Baby C was moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an assistant came in and cut the spinal cord, just the way she had seen Gosnell do it so many times.
I have read enough accounts of abortion clinics like this that, even though they may not be the norm, they are hardly exceptional either.  To say that I am outraged does not even begin to describe how I feel.  But worse, there had been reports going into various agencies in Pennsylvania about these criminal activities for years  and nothing happened--presumably because every abortion doctor is imagined to have a halo and wings.  After all--he is just doing his part to give women the right to choose.  If you think I am constructing a strawman argument, let's see what advocates for "right to choose" are saying when another pro-choicer suggested that perhaps abortions should be prohibited in the second trimester:
This position illustrates an abandonment of the vulnerable women who need later abortions and a willful ignorance of the circumstances under which second trimester abortions occur. An early choice to end an unwanted pregnancy, while medically easier and to some more politically palatable is not necessarily a better or more moral choice. Women deserve to have all the time they need in order to make the best pregnancy decision for themselves and for their families, even if this means having a later abortion....
Women have no obligation to make a decision as soon as they possibly can. The only obligation women have is to take the time they need to make the decision that is right for them. Don’t we believe that women are moral decision makers, and carefully consider their options when faced with an unwanted pregnancy?
You know what?  There are a lot of people who are failing the "moral decision makers" test.  Women who can't make up their about whether to have an abortion for four or five months have already demonstrated that decision making isn't their strong point.  Women who can't make a sensible decision about either using contraceptives, or demanding that their boyfriend or husband do so, aren't going to the top of the "moral decision makers" list, either.  Guys who are so deeply selfish that they aren't willing to use a condom--or willing to support the child that they may be making--they also go to the bottom of the "moral decision makers" ranking, too.  (You will notice that I am not saying anything about rape victims, who make up a small but not trivial fraction of unplanned pregnancies.)

Gosnell sounds like a monster that would look right in place in an SS uniform, except for being the wrong color.  People that insist on justifying elective abortions where the fetus stands a good chance of being viable need to face up to the part that they have played in providing the intellectual posturing that allowed multiple state agencies to ignore what this monster was doing.

UPDATE: The deeper I read, the more apparent it is that the corruption of the pro-choice movement is at the heart of why Gosnell wasn't stopped long ago.  This horror film in real life was only exposed because of the federal raid for the prescription drug mill.  Starting at page 8 is a list of government agencies and non-profit organization that were not simply unaware of what Gosnell was doing--but knew, and chose to look the other way:
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. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.

The only exception to this live-and-let-die policy was supposed to be for complaints dumped directly on the department’s doorstep. Those, at least, would be investigated. Except that there were complaints about Gosnell, repeatedly. Several different attorneys, representing women injured by Gosnell, contacted the department. A doctor from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hand-delivered a complaint, advising the
department that numerous patients he had referred for abortions came back from Gosnell with the same venereal disease. The medical examiner of Delaware County informed the  department that Gosnell had performed an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl carrying a 30-week-old baby. And the department received official notice that a woman named Karnamaya Mongar had died at Gosnell’s hands.

Yet not one of these alarm bells – not even Mrs. Mongar’s death – prompted the department to look at Gosnell or the Women’s Medical Society. Only after the raid occurred, and the story hit the press, did the department choose to act. Suddenly there were no administrative, legal, or policy barriers; within weeks an order was issued to close the clinic. And as this grand jury investigation widened, department officials “lawyered up,” hiring a high-priced law firm to represent them at taxpayer expense. Had they spent as much effort on inspection as they did on attorneys, none of this would have happened to begin with.
And for those who want to imagine that "legitimate abortion doctors" would never have tolerated this, on p. 13:
So too with the National Abortion Federation. NAF is an association of abortion providers that upholds the strictest health and legal standards for its members. Gosnell, bizarrely, applied for admission shortly after Karnamaya Mongar’s death. Despite his various efforts to fool her, the evaluator from NAF readily noted that records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. It was the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. Of course, she rejected Gosnell’s application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen.
It turns out that Dr. Gosnell was not always an uncaring clod who endangered women and occasionally killed them from his negligence.  There were apparently some women who received much better care, because of their race.  On pp. 60-61, witnesses testified that Dr. Gosnell (who is black) treated white women dramatically and obviously better than women of color.  Could there be an opportunity to pursue hate crime charges against this guy?  The irony would be too rich.

UPDATE 2: As my wife pointed out this morning: isn't this what making abortion legal was supposed to prevent?  Dangerous, unhygenic abortions that mutilated and killed women?


  1. Thanks for this post. Today I will march in the West Coast Walk For Life. The timeliness of this story breaking near the anniversary of Roe v. Wade is grim.

    Thanks for your clarity and precision. Keep up the good work.

  2. So, if women are supposed to be allowed as much time as they need to make the decision as to whether or not to abort then doesn't that logically mean that they could make that decision at, say, 18 years?

    Just trying to follow the logic.

  3. I live 15-16 miles to the west of this clinic. I have not been right since I read the Grand Jury report. I have always been confused about my abortions position and now more than ever.
    With condoms in every high school(maybe middle school), birth control pills at relatively cheap rates and now even a morning after pill, why are we allowing anyone to wait until anytime past 12 weeks?
    My heart is heavy with this being so close to home!