Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, "catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women," according to CBS affiliate KYW in Philadelphia. Gosnell, his wife, and eight other suspects are now under arrest, following a grand jury investigation. The doctor "induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord," District Attorney Seth Williams said.
"A doctor who knowingly and systematically mistreats female patients, to the point that one of them dies in his so-called care, commits murder under the law," Williams declared. "A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law."
Gosnell is charged third-degree murder in the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died on November 20, 2009, allegedly from an overdose of anesthetics. He has also been charged with seven counts of murder for the infants born alive and then killed, according to the indictment. Gosnell is suspected of killing hundreds of babies during his practice of more than 30 years, though records do not exist, the prosecutor said. The practice must have been very rewarding. During a search of Gosnell's home, investigators said, they found $240,000 in cash.
Distric Attorney Williams also commented that patients at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society clinic were subjected to squalid and barbaric conditions. He reported that when investigators first went to the clinic to look into drug-related complaints, they discovered a "house of horrors." "There were bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses ... scattered throughout the building," he said. "There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose." Gosnell has also been charged with re-using unsanitary instruments and performing operations under unsanitary conditions. Four of the eight other suspects arrested also face murder charges in the deaths of the seven infants.
Gosnell, a family practitioner never certified as an OB/GYN, allowed unlicensed employees, including a 15-year-old high school student, to perform operations and administer anesthesia, investigators said. Gosnell also faces a civil suit by the family of Mrs. Mongar: The suit claims she died because of treatment by unlicensed personnel in a facility that lacked proper medical equipment.
No arrests have been made or charges field against government health and licensing officials who received numerous reports about practices at the clinic and took no action, according to the grand jury investigation.
Should the charges be proved in court, Gosnell and at least some of his accomplices will likely have a long time in prison to ponder the price they paid in human lives for their ill-gotten gains. But many of us pass other "houses of horror" routinely every day. The Planned Parenthood clinic a few blocks from where I live and the euphemistically named Feminist Health Center just up the street from the State House in Concord, N.H., kill babies, too. If their facilities are clean, their staffs more professional, and procedures more sanitary than Gosnell's, they are no less houses of horror for the infants who die there.
Congress during the Bush administration passed a law banning late-term, partial-birth abortions that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart. The Congress also passed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which forbids the killing of, and requires medical care for, infants born alive from an abortion procedure. Sen. Barrack Obama opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion, arguing that it lacked an exception for the health of the mother. As a state Senator in Illinois he three times opposed a state version of the bill to protect infants born alive. The reason, he said, was that the bill contained no provision guaranteeing it would not affect a woman's right to choose abortion according to the terms of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
Yet such a provision was part of the Illinois bill and was identical to the guarantee written into the federal law: "Nothing in this Section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being born alive as defined in this Section."
However fine they might wish to spin the legal arguments aside, we might wonder at the moral judgment of those who want to split hairs over whether it is acceptable to kill babies only in the womb, or when partially out of the womb or after an unintended birth. To champion a woman's "right" to abortion is to deny the most fundamental human right to the "unwanted" baby — the right to life.
The United States has not yet sunk to the level of China's "one child" policy, backed up with forced abortions and sterilizations. But the slaughter of 50 million innocent human beings in America since Roe v. Wade ought to have some impact on any American's thinking about human rights. Though it seems not to have penetrated the mind of our nation's chief executive.
"History shows," President Obama said in a joint appearance with the Chinese President Wednesday, "that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being." We have come to expect a defense of state-sanctioned slaughter from the government in Beijing. But it is sad beyond words that the President of the United States and leader of what we used to call "the free world" appears not the least inclined to find a single right for defenseless babies among the "universal rights of every human being."