The details of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s ongoing trial offer a picture of horror usually reserved for a striking brand of shock fiction.
“This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women,” begins the criminal grand jury report, which was issued in 2011 — well before the story became national news. “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.”
Gosnell, who is standing trial in Philadelphia, faces the death penalty. He is charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and one woman at his clinic, known as the “Women’s Medical Society.”
The charges are straightforward, the details macabre. The grand jury report describes the facility as a “baby charnel house” where Gosnell — the only doctor at the clinic, accompanied by a staff of untrained employees performing medical procedures — sought to turn a profit, irrespective of the law or the safety of the women in his care.
“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,” the grand jury report states.
According to the report, Gosnell took pictures of his patients’ genitalia, and cut off and saved aborted fetus’ feet. Aborted remains clogged toilets.
Gosnell’s untrained, unlicensed staff routinely administered drugs and performed medical procedures, the report states. Specifically, according to the report, Gosnell and the staffers conducted illegal late-term abortions and cut the necks of the babies that were born alive. If anything went awry, Gosnell avoided calling emergency services — possibly leading to the deaths not only of several babies, but also at least two female patients, the grand jury report suggests.
“Gosnell’s ‘medical practice’ was not set up to treat or help patients. His aim was not to give women control over their bodies and their lives. He was not serving his community. Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, motivated by greed,” the report continues.
The alleged malpractice at Gosnell’s clinic apparently went ignored for years by state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of State, despite numerous complaints. Only after a drug raid on the facility did officials notice the clinic was hiding macabre secrets.