Reading Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams' indictment of abortion provider Kermit Gosnell is hard traveling and the 260-page grand jury report is worse. The grisly details of this doctor's "practice" is something out of a Grade B horror film:
Gosnell is accused of causing the death of one of his female patients; and killing viable babies, born alive in the 6th, 7th, and 8th month of pregnancy, by severing their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. A search of Gosnell’s office, called the Women’s Medical Society, in West Philadelphia revealed that bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses were scattered throughout the building. Jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf. Furniture and equipment was dusty, broken, and blood-stained. The doctor himself was seldom present. In his absence, untrained, unsupervised workers, one of them a teenage girl, routinely injected dangerous sedatives into women undergoing illegal late-term abortions.
The doctor's indifference and depravity (joking about the size of one of the murdered infants, for example) is evident throughout the report. He and members of his staff have been charged in eight counts of homicide for the killing of one patient and the murder of seven infants, born viable and dispatched with a pair of scissors. The DA repots that Gosnell may have "snipped" hundreds of babies in this manner over decades. His clinic has been open for 32 years. It is hard to understand how state regulators could have ignored it for so long. Perhaps Gosnell chose his client base, among the city's poor and immigrant communities, wisely.
From the Grand Jury report:
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.
Let us say right up front that we realize this case will be used by those on both sides of the abortion debate. We ourselves cover a spectrum of personal beliefs about the morality of abortion. For us as a criminal grand jury, however, the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants. We find common ground in exposing what happened here, and in recommending measures to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.
The case of a Canadian couple who opted to "selectively reduce" a perfectly healthy twin because they judged the extra child would overcomplicate their "lifestyle expectations" was enough to shock many Canadians out of a cultural complacency on abortion. Will this gruesome story achieve the same effect south of the border? Reading these tales, it's hard not to feel we are teetering over the edge.