The Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania run by Dr. Kermit Gosnell was one of the few places in the state to provide late-term abortions. From witness accounts the clinic smelled of cat urine. There was a free-roaming, flea-infested feline that reportedly defecated all over the medical facility. The clinic, described in the grand jury report as “a criminal enterprise, motivated by greed,” spread venereal diseases to their patients, reportedly delivered live babies and killed them and according to testimony had a 15-year-old high school student medicate and perform most of the clinic’s procedures unsupervised.
Dr. Gosnell along with several co-defendants/employees are charged with eight counts of murder from medical malpractice. They were arrested in January 2011. Their trial is this month.
Who, you may ask, would go to a clinic when it reeked of cat pee? I wouldn’t buy cat food at a place like that. Who would go there to get a medical procedure? Desperate women. Poor women. Due to increased restrictions on abortion procedures: out-of-state women with no other options.
This case is an indictment of oversight of women’s clinics. Gosnell had his practice for nearly 40 years. One example cited in the report was from a decade ago when an employee filed a complaint with the Board of Medicine. The investigator had an off-site interview with Gosnell and then dismissed the complaint as unconfirmed.
To their credit the National Abortion Federation rejected the Women’s Medical Society’s application, but they also never reported them to other authorities. There were several others who turned a blind eye to the abhorrent conditions.
The report notes, “Once law enforcement agents went in, they couldn’t help noticing the disgusting conditions, the dazed patients, the discarded fetuses.”
In a checklist of egregious and shocking allegations, Gosnell, an African-American man, treated white women from the suburbs better than his other patients. White women were attended to by an actual physician (as opposed to employees impersonating one) and seated in the one clean room in the clinic: Gosnell’s office. When asked by his staff why he treated white women differently he remarked that it was “the way of the world.”
Those who want to see all abortion illegal have charged there’s a media blackout on this case. Those who’ve read the report can see this case is about the horrors of illegal abortions. What Gosnell did was not legal, hence why he’s in jail.
The grand jury report sums it up, “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.”
This political football is really at the core of how this clinic was able to operate. It was only shut down due to an investigation of illegal prescription drug activity. If Gosnell would have just stuck to butchering women of color, he’d likely still be open for business.
I’ve written extensively about criminalized abortion, abortion clinics and fake abortion clinics where no doctors work and false medical information (and no health care) is state funded. One piece won an award and the panel of judges possibly doubled the readership of the exposé.
These stories are hard to sell. There’s no demand for these articles. If these tales were centered on erectile dysfunction, there’d be greater public interest and a coinciding news hole. But there’s not. Editors don’t really like stories about abortion. Abortion is icky. It’s a “women’s issue” about their nether regions—way off down there. Abortion is not a happy story. It’s why it’s quietly omitted from publications due to logical editorial decisions everyday.
Women’s publications can’t ONLY cover abortion or they’ll go out of business. So the trumped-up outrage over the alleged lack of press on the Gosnell case is ill-considered. Even John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of two Congresses that have voted to criminalize abortion dozens of times, has jumped onto that conspiracy bandwagon, tweeting: “The American people deserve to hear the whole story about the #Gosnell.”
But those who want to see abortion go back in the shadows are amiss in wanting the “whole story” of Gosnell to be told. The “whole story” is that Boehner and the GOP would rather have more Gosnells practicing illegal abortion than places where women can obtain safe medical care.
So as cynical and pessimistic as it is, Gosnell summed it up best: “It’s the way of the world”—the world of illegal abortion.