Gosnell Trial Bias
Regulatory and Major Media’s Delayed Reaction
PHILADELPHIA — Body parts in orange juice cartons. Jars of severed baby feet in the closet. Bags of medical waste, seeping blood and a foul stench. Foot stirrups caked in dried blood.
Most horrifying of all, hundreds of newborns with their throats slit, their skulls crushed and their spines cut from their heads with scissors. And government officials, inspectors and proponents of abortion rights were all aware that something was terribly wrong, but did nothing.
This is not a description of a Third World war zone. This is evidence from the ongoing trial of Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist who was initially charged with the murder of a 41-year-old woman and seven newborn infants at the Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia.
On April 23, PhillyNews.com reported that Philadelphia Judge Jeffrey Minehart dropped three of seven first-degree murder charges against Gosnell. The judge also dismissed all five counts of "corpse abuse for storing the feet of aborted fetuses in plastic containers in his now closed Women’s Medical Society clinic." Also dismissed by Judge Minehart: one count of infanticide.
A jury will decide on the rest of the counts, the judge ruled.
On April 25, EWTN News reported that the judge "later reinstated a charge of murder against a baby who was ‘moving and breathing for 20 minutes’ before it was killed. Instead, he dismissed charges for a baby boy who jerked its leg before Gosnell severed his spinal cord, Cybercast News Service reports."
On April 24, the defense rested, without Gosnell taking the stand.
Besides being the tale of a bloody house of horrors, pro-life observers say, the trial is a damning indictment of government-regulated abortion on demand in America today, as well as a case study of media inattention to the grave harm caused by the abortion industry.
Media might have reported the most recent news, but, as the Gosnell trial entered its fifth week, after an outpouring of criticism for failing to report its appalling testimony, mainstream media had just begun to fill the reserved press gallery that had sat empty for the first month of the trial.
J.D. Mullane, a reporter with PhillyBurbs.com, commented about the de facto national media blackout of the first part of Gosnell’s trial in an April 14 commentary, "What I Saw at the Gosnell Trial."
Describing the situation the previous Thursday, Mullane noted that even though court staff had set aside three rows of seats to accommodate up to 40 reporters, he was the only reporter seated there. Several local journalists were present elsewhere in the courtroom, but the only national media presence came by way of brief appearances by reporters from The Associated Press and The New York Times.
"The lack of daily media coverage for the most sensational abortion trial angers pro-lifers who said there is a ‘media black out’ on the Gosnell trial," Mullane commented. "I asked one of the court staff why so few are interested. ‘If you’re pro-choice, do you really want anybody to know about this?’ he said, motioning to the filthy medical equipment set up in the courtroom."
"It’s a good point," Mullane continued. "As saturation coverage of the Sandy Hook elementary school coverage has caused Americans to reconsider the limits of the Second Amendment, saturation coverage of Kermit Gosnell’s clinic would likely cause the same reconsideration of abortion rights. The details are that horrifying."
The picture that has emerged of the 72-year-old Philadelphia native is scary. The criminal investigation that resulted in the murder charges stemmed from allegations of improperly prescribing highly addictive mood-altering drugs like Oxycontin; Gosnell operated his abortion business mostly in the evening, showing up sometimes as late as 10pm to do abortions.
The abortionist took in an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 a night, charging mainly poor women fees of $1,600 to $3,000 for illegal late abortions. He reserved the latest-term abortions for Sundays, when the only staff member present was his third wife, Pearl Gosnell.
The first weeks of the trial included testimonies from former employees of Gosnell, eight of whom have pled guilty to charges and another who will be tried separately. Steven Edward Massof, a graduate of a medical school in Grenada who was not licensed to practice medicine in Pennsylvania but worked at Gosnell’s abortion facility between 2003 and 2008, described his job to the court: He would insert needles into the women’s abdomens, attempting to pierce their unborn babies’ hearts with the heart medication digoxin. It was a "good shot" if the heart stopped beating. The women were given drugs to induce labor, and the rest of the time he spent monitoring "precipitous births" — a term staff used for babies delivered prematurely. Sometimes, Massof said, the facility was so busy "it was raining fetuses."
"I felt like a fireman in hell. I couldn’t put out all the fires," Massof told the court. "I would run around with scissors." The scissors were for cutting umbilical cords and the babies’ spines at the fleshy part of their necks.
Sherry West, another Gosnell worker, recalled an 18- to 24-inch baby "screaming" during its live-birth abortion "like a little alien."
The 41-year-old murder victim is Karnamaya Mongar, a recent refugee to the United States from Nepal. When she went to the Women’s Medical Society in November 2009, Gosnell was not there, as usual, according to the grand jury report of the investigation into his misconduct.
The report read, "Office workers had her sign various forms that she could not read and then began doping her. She received repeated unmonitored, unrecorded intravenous injections of Demerol, a sedative seldom used in recent years because of its dangers. Gosnell liked it because it was cheap."
Mongar died of a Demerol overdose.
But the Gosnell story is not just about appalling practices at the abortion facility. It’s also about government employees who were repeatedly confronted with evidence — maimed girls in hospitals, late-term fetuses, sexually transmitted diseases, even deaths — but failed to act. Gosnell was only apprehended when police raided his offices to seize evidence of his illegal prescriptions.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams named names and catalogued the opportunities that these officials had to stop the carnage that was taking place in Gosnell’s facility.
"Worth special mention is Janice Staloski of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, who personally participated in the 1992 site visit but decided to let Gosnell slide on the violations that were already evident then," he said. "She eventually rose to become director of the division that was supposed to regulate abortion providers, but never looked at Gosnell, despite specific complaints from lawyers, a doctor and a medical examiner. After she was nonetheless promoted, her successor as division director, Cynthia Boyne, failed to order an investigation of the clinic, even when Karnamaya Mongar died there."
Perhaps the most concrete of all the missed opportunities to stop Gosnell’s horrors was the inaction by the National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion providers. An unnamed "evaluator" from NAF spent two days in Gosnell’s facility in 2009, reviewing his operation when he sought membership in the organization. She noted numerous serious violations, including that unqualified personnel were administering dangerous drugs, and refused his application.
"It was the worst abortion clinic [the evaluator] had ever inspected," the grand jury report said. "Of course, she rejected Gosnell’s application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen."
NAF issued a statement on Gosnell during the trial, saying his facility is "not typical of the high-quality abortion care provided by NAF members" and noting that his application was rejected. NAF did not mention, however, that its evaluator did not say a word to authorities after she had been granted the opportunity to assess the facility and had been alerted to the clear and present danger it posed to the impoverished women who went there to obtain abortions.
The grand jury report said the collective inaction by those who knew about the problems at Gosnell’s facility occurred "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."
NAF declined to return phone calls or answer emails from the Register, but it clearly disagrees that inadequate regulation is a problem facing the abortion industry.
In an April 16 Weekly Standard blog post, Michael Warren commented about the collective refusal of abortion activists to acknowledge NAF’s failure to respond adequately after it learned about Gosnell’s unacceptable conduct.
"Undoubtedly, many or even most pro-choice activists are disgusted by the ghastly details of what Gosnell did over several years to young, poor women and their born-alive infants," Warren said. "But it doesn’t serve their cause, nor does it reflect well on it, when they ignore the fact that a major pro-abortion organization failed to even try to alert the authorities about these atrocities."
Celeste McGovern writes
A longer versrion of this story
appears on NCRegister.com.
- May 5-18, 2013