Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Charged With Murder and Racketeering

A grand jury in Philadelphia has returned an Indictment against Dr. Kermit Gosnell and several of his staff, charging them with first degree murder, racketeering and other crimes. Gosnell owned and operated a clinic that performed abortions. His patients were mostly poor and minorities. He allegedly performed late-term abortions, past 24 weeks (the legal cut-off.) During these procedures, he allegedly would induce labor, extract the allegedly viable fetus, and sever the fetus' spinal cord using scissors. The Indictment alleges the fetuses were viable babies born alive, and Dr. Gosnell's actions were murder.

It alleges his unlicensed staff administered labor inducing drugs and narcotics for pain relief in his absence (he only showed up at night after the women had been writhing around in pain all day), and then, amidst squalid conditions and re-using unsanitized equipment, he extracted the fetuses.

The District Attorney has released the Grand Jury's report of its findings. You can read it here. (Don't read it if you are squeamish.) [More....]

The Grand Jury blasts the employees of the state and local health departments and the prosecutors for the Board of Medicine for allowing Gosnell's clinic to continue after reports of death, grossly unsanitary conditions, spread of venereal diseases and infections and more.

The Grand Jury says this is not about abortion, which is legal until 24 weeks in Pennsylvania.

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.

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....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.

One sample paragraph:

Gosnell set up his practice to rely entirely on the untrained actions of his unqualified employees. 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.

This clinic should have been shut down years ago, not because abortions were being performed, but because of the squalid conditions, risk to the lives of the mothers and lack of medical personnel. Dr. Gosnell had a history of malpractice suits that were settled.

Dr. Gosnell is entitled to the presumption of innocence. An Indictment is merely a statement of charges and not proof of a crime.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Board of Medicine and other regulatory agencies, including lawyers at the PA Dept. of State that were aware of the alleged atrocities involving what the grand jury terms the "butchering of women" and the spread of venereal disease and infection due to the unsanitary conditions and re-use of unsterilized equipment, are not.

Pennsylvania is not a third-world country. There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago....In the end, Gosnell was only caught by accident, when police raided his offices to seize evidence of his illegal prescription selling. Once law enforcement agents went in, they couldn’t help noticing the disgusting conditions, the dazed patients, the discarded fetuses. That is why the complete regulatory collapse that occurred here is so inexcusable. It should have taken only one look.

The Grand Jury makes some recommendations:

We recommend that the Pennsylvania Department of Health plug the hole it has created for abortion clinics. They should be explicitly regulated as ambulatory surgical facilities, so that they are inspected annually and held to the same standards as all other outpatient procedure centers. Inspectors should review patient files, including ultrasound images, on site. Equipment, and employees’ licenses, should be scrutinized. Second trimester abortions should be performed or supervised by physicians board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

The Pennsylvania Department of State must repair its review process. Complaints should be taken by internet and telephone, and patients should be assured of confidentiality and a response when the investigation is completed. No complaint should be dismissed until the subject’s full history of prior complaints has been considered, and malpractice databases have been examined. Reports about individual doctors should be cross-checked against reports about the medical offices where they have worked, and vice versa.

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health should do at least as much to control infectious medical waste as it does to inspect swimming pools and beauty parlors.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Not prejudging (5.00 / 5) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 01:43:51 PM EST
    but if the news report is true, then I think this is clearly the result of what happens when you strangle legal abortion to within an inch of its life.

    not very different (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by CST on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 01:44:47 PM EST
    from coathangers after all.

    Yup (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 01:46:42 PM EST
    When decent doctors are intimidated out of the (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 01:48:24 PM EST
    practice, only the monsters will remain. Truly horrifying.

    Exactly! (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:35:26 PM EST
    Not exactly. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Peter G on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 09:54:45 AM EST
    Only monsters and heroes will remain when ordinary, decent doctors are intimidated out of this practice.

    Desperation (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:34:15 PM EST
    breeds all sorts of crime.  Read the whole thing because choice issues will always be huge with me.  And with a daughter and two granddaughters now that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

    His daily bread and butter were the poor nonwhite, and they went willingly because what else did they have?  Where else were they going to go?  The place was filthy and women of means were taken elsewhere during their procedure....what a horror story, and this is what we have brought women to in this country...one step from the back alley butcher,  some guy keeping you drugged all day long and in labor, taking pictures of your genitals and removing and saving the feet of fetuses.  And lying to women about how far along they were in order to obtain that cash payment.

    legal until 24 weeks (1.50 / 2) (#6)
    by diogenes on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:13:25 PM EST
    Abortion is hardly strangled if it can go until 24 weeks.  
    Maybe we'll see in the trial what percentage of the women who had abortions past 24 weeks REALLY had medical conditions that would actually threaten their lives if they continued the pregnancy.  I doubt that many of them were turned away from the University of Pennsylvania because they were about to die, were 26 weeks pregnant, and weren't allowed to have an abortion in the state of Pennsylvania.  Maybe I'm wrong--it would be nice to see a list of all the late-term abortions performed by this guy.

    Wow. (none / 0) (#5)
    by jeffinalabama on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 03:12:47 PM EST
    Just...wow. I don't know what to say or think.

    This doesn't surprise me. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Susie Madrak on Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 07:49:20 PM EST
    You think it's hard to convict a cop? I used to work as a medical fraud investigator (mostly in NJ) and let me tell you, the state boards will do anything they can to avoid revoking a medical license. And even if the case is so egregious that they have to do it, rest assured that it will be eventually restored.

    Oh, and the license revocations don't apply across state lines. So some of them just commute to another state.

    Not too surprising (none / 0) (#10)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Thu Jan 20, 2011 at 07:43:30 AM EST

    when you consider that legislative attempts to regulate the abortion industry are routinely fought tooth and nail.  Apparently, the regulatory apparatus got the message.