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Nightmare fuel: Kermit Gosnell exposed

gosnellclinic

The grand jury’s report on the Gosnell Women’s Medical Services clinic (pdf) is freely available online, with photographs. It’s 281 pages of gag-reflex-inducing horror.

Gosnell was living the good life: the report estimates he was bringing in almost $2 million a year, a number that is only approximated from the number of abortions he was doing and the amount he was charging, because he always dealt in cash. He had a small group of poorly trained, non-professional people doing much of the ‘medical’ work — including at least one high school student who was administering tests and drugs to patients — and idled at home most of the day, coming in in the evening to do procedures. Procedures that he himself was not qualified or certified to do.

He carried out many late-term abortions, often past the legal cutoff (his procedure was to do a crude ultrasound, manipulate the results, and claim the fetus, no matter how old it was, was 24.5 weeks old). His style was cheap, lazy, and harmful to the woman. The standard procedure was for the women to come in during the day, and his staff would administer drugs to induce labor — even in women 30 weeks or more pregnant — and then send them in to the bathroom, where they would ‘deliver’ into the toilet. The toilet would sometimes get clogged with aborted fetal tissue.

Sometimes the fetus would be delivered alive, and at an age where, if this were done in a hospital, the newborn would have a good chance of surviving. Gosnell’s job as a doctor was to take these squirming, sometimes crying babies, and stab them in the back of the neck with a pair of scissors to kill them.

Sometimes, too, the women died.

All this was done in a filthy clinic cluttered with obsolete and broken equipment. There were bloodstains on the stirrups of the gynecological tables. There were jars with bits of fetuses snipped off and stored in preservatives. He was constantly late in paying for medical waste pickup and disposal; there were leaking bags of aborted tissue in piles in the basement. The staff complained that sometimes he was lazy and left the dead fetuses in shoe boxes out in the clinic, so they’d be greeted by the reek of rotting flesh when they walked in the door in the morning.

He had been doing this for decades. His clinic was constantly overlooked or given a pass by the government agencies responsible for inspections and standards. That’s the stunning part of this story, that he actually got away with murder for so many years. How could that happen?

Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that. But we think this was something more. 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.

I suspect that part of the abortion football game was the fact that women who were desperate, who knew they were stretching the boundaries of legality and convention, were unlikely to complain to the authorities about a clinic that was delivering services (incompetently and often fatally) that they needed. Gosnell was living high on the absence of clean, licensed, professional women’s medical services in many parts of the region — he could get by with criminally substandard treatment because our government has been actively destroying the ethical and competent competition.

If my abbreviated summary above is enough to sicken you, I strongly recommend that you don’t read the grand jury report. It’s hundreds of pages of explicit evil.

Comments

  1. says

    This is exactly why abortion should always be accessible, affordable and legal. There will always be a certain segment of the population that will be willing to prey on the desperate and the scared.

  2. says

    As the Talibangelicals continue their vigorous campaign to eliminate regulated, above-board, compassionate providers, THIS is what will step in to fill the void. THIS is the past horror they are working so hard to bring back.

    And they irony is that they will use this person as justification for driving Planned Parenthood and other people out of business.

  3. ChasCPeterson says

    for those left wondering: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
    but it would be equally fucking sickening anywhere.

    The grand jury report begins by saying “we kinow this case will be used by both sides in the abortion debate” and there you see how, in the first 2 comments of this thread.

  4. Yellow Thursday says

    It horrifies me all the more that I have “pro-life” relatives and friends of relatives claiming that Gosnell is the rule, not the exception. And they completely ignore me when I try to explain that this is why women of all walks of life need access to contraception, proper sex education, and abortion. Because desparate women will go to butchers like Gosnell if we give them no other choice.

  5. thumper1990 says

    Jesus Christ…

    You just know the “pro-life” crowd will have a moment of stupidity and use this ammo for illegalising abortion, rather than seeing it for what it really is: a damn good argument for making abortion legal, ethical, and well-regulated.

  6. glodson says

    This is sickening. And this is why abortion access is important. Well, another reason in the long list of reasons.

    I don’t think I can comment further with both the bile rising and my anger growing.

  7. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Chas,

    The grand jury report begins by saying “we kinow this case will be used by both sides in the abortion debate” and there you see how, in the first 2 comments of this thread.

    We could just say that it’s sickening and ignore the implications regarding the availability of abortion services, especially for poor women and non-white women , but I kinda find that sickening too.

  8. glodson says

    We could just say that it’s sickening and ignore the implications regarding the availability of abortion services, especially for poor women and non-white women , but I kinda find that sickening too.

    This.

    Both sides will try to use this. One side will have a point in the dangers of needlessly restricting access to abortion because of the dangers of unregulated and illegal practices. The other side will use hyperbole to make an appeal to emotion in order to use this incident to cast a bad light on all abortion providers.

    One is reasoned, one is justified. The other is fearmongering bullshit.

  9. says

    I hate to link to H***P*, but this is a very good piece by Kate Michelman, former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America on why women went to Gosnell’s clinic:

    Evidence suggests that a number of factors influenced a woman’s decision to seek care at Gosnell’s clinic: Medicaid’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for most abortions; the scarcity of abortion providers in Pennsylvania (and across the nation) [Note: Pennsylvania has 13 freestanding clinics left, down from 22 just two years ago]; the fear of violence perpetrated by protestors at clinics, and the right-wing culture that has so stigmatized abortion that many think it is still illegal 40 years after Roe v. Wade.

    All of the above can be laid squarely at the feet of conservatives. And they will never, ever change their policies no matter how much evil results from them.

    And here’s another irony:

    Another Gosnell patient, Davida Johnson, noted in an Associated Press article that she intended to go to Planned Parenthood for an abortion procedure, but was scared away by anti-abortion protesters picketing outside the clinic. An acquaintance suggested she go to Gosnell, where protesters (ironically) were not an issue.

  10. burgundy says

    And it’s not just that conservative politians have been driving legit clinics out of business – in many cases they have done so by imposing excessive regulations and requirements. Regulations that will never, ever be applied to fuckers like this. In case anyone needed more proof that the anti-abortion movement doesn’t give two shits about saving babies (it’s already well-established that they don’t care about women’s lives.)

  11. says

    Oh, right, I didn’t mention that it was in Philadelphia. West Philadelphia, near Penn and Drexel, a few blocks north of Market street. It’s a weird part of town where you simultaneously have the prestigious Ivy League school cheek by jowl next to a desperately poor neighborhood with very high crime rates. Not far away is CHOP and the University hospital.

    It’s a good place to visit if you want to see the two Americas split by economic inequities, all in one place.

  12. says

    Makes me think of this news I saw recently, from my home country:

    As of April 1 the French state will reimburse 100 percent of the cost of abortions while teenage girls will be offered free and anonymous contraception.

    Would the same situation arrise? (Unfortunately maybe it does and I just don’t know about it)

  13. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    We could just say that it’s sickening and ignore the implications regarding the availability of abortion services, especially for poor women and non-white women , but I kinda find that sickening too.

    Oh, pshaw. Ignoring the implications is the only way to be a True Skeptic(tm). Haven’t we learned that very very well by now?

    /strawvulcan.

  14. microraptor says

    PZ, given the disturbing nature of this entry, maybe it should be changed so that the details are behind the “Read More” button.

  15. ChasCPeterson says

    We could just say that it’s sickening and ignore the implications regarding the availability of abortion services, especially for poor women and non-white women , but I kinda find that sickening too…Ignoring the implications is the only way to be a True Skeptic(tm).

    ?
    What ignoring implications? Those implications are ionherent in one of the two “uses” of the case to which I referred.
    The one that I would endorse personally, btw. I think you were implying otherwise. False positive.

  16. ChasCPeterson says

    ionherent, you know: not just inherent, but also bearing an electrical charge.

  17. ~G~ says

    Made the mistake of reading just a bit of the report. I’m going to be hypotensive the rest of the day it is so sickeningly disturbing. Little rivals this. Let this be a warning to others, heed PZ’s advice.

  18. ChasCPeterson says

    …and where by “the ‘use’ I endorse” I mean:

    This is exactly why abortion should always be accessible, affordable and legal.

    Just to be clear.

    On further reflection, wtf? Merely observing that the Others will use the same facts in a totally opposite rhetorical way makes me a strawvulcan?

  19. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    Commenting on how a case is going to be used to support an agenda is usually meant as an accusation so it seemed weird that you’d write it just as an observation. Sorry, Chas, misunderstanding.

  20. glodson says

    Chas, you wrote

    for those left wondering: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
    but it would be equally fucking sickening anywhere.

    The grand jury report begins by saying “we kinow this case will be used by both sides in the abortion debate” and there you see how, in the first 2 comments of this thread.

    And the first two in the thread made the same argument how this case illustrates the need for easy abortion access.

    Looking back at your message, I can see it now that you’ve stated it more explicitly. But when I read your message the first time, it sounded like you were scolding both sides since the only side presented in the comments thus far were condemnations of anti-abortion activists.

  21. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    I was making what I thought was a very clear jab at the hyperskeptics we constantly get here whenever women’s issues comes up. Obviously, it wasn’t clear enough.

    So, let me be clearer: Chas, my comment had nothing to do with you.

  22. dianne says

    Something I don’t understand: Where were all the hyperzealous antiabortion people who make it their goal in life to make sure that the closets in clinics that offer abortion are the regulation size during the years that Gosnell was active? Was he bribing them to stay away or were they deliberately letting things get as bad as possible to punish poor women seeking abortion and/or have a clear bad example to parade around?

  23. Pteryxx says

    I’ll just leave this here, because as we all know, folks WILL need context to fight the incoming bullshit tsunami.

    http://www.prochoice.org/about_abortion/history_abortion.html

    Abortion Was Legal

    Abortion has been performed for thousands of years, and in every society that has been studied. It was legal in the United States from the time the earliest settlers arrived. At the time the Constitution was adopted, abortions before “quickening” were openly advertised and commonly performed.

    Making Abortion Illegal
    In the mid-to-late 1800s states began passing laws that made abortion illegal. The motivations for anti-abortion laws varied from state to state. One of the reasons included fears that the population would be dominated by the children of newly arriving immigrants, whose birth rates were higher than those of “native” Anglo-Saxon women.

    [...]

    The Medical Establishment
    The strongest force behind the drive to criminalize abortion was the attempt by doctors to establish for themselves exclusive rights to practice medicine. They wanted to prevent “untrained” practitioners, including midwives, apothecaries, and homeopaths, from competing with them for patients and for patient fees.

    [...]

    Back-Alley Abortions
    The prohibition of legal abortion from the 1880s until 1973 came under the same anti-obscenity or Comstock laws that prohibited the dissemination of birth control information and services.

    Criminalization of abortion did not reduce the numbers of women who sought abortions. In the years before Roe v. Wade, the estimates of illegal abortions ranged as high as 1.2 million per year.1 Although accurate records could not be kept, it is known that between the 1880s and 1973, many thousands of women were harmed as a result of illegal abortion.

    Many women died or suffered serious medical problems after attempting to self-induce their abortions or going to untrained practitioners who performed abortions with primitive methods or in unsanitary conditions. During this time, hospital emergency room staff treated thousands of women who either died or were suffering terrible effects of abortions provided without adequate skill and care.

    Some women were able to obtain relatively safer, although still illegal, abortions from private doctors. This practice remained prevalent for the first half of the twentieth century. The rate of reported abortions then began to decline, partly because doctors faced increased scrutiny from their peers and hospital administrators concerned about the legality of their operations.

    [...]

    Roe v. Wade

    The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade made it possible for women to get safe, legal abortions from well-trained medical practitioners. This led to dramatic decreases in pregnancy-related injury and death.

    The Roe case arose out of a Texas law that prohibited legal abortion except to save a woman’s life. At that time, most other states had laws similar to the one in Texas. Those laws forced large numbers of women to resort to illegal abortions.

  24. says

    dianne 22: From what I understand, Gosnell operated a cash-only business without proper licenses, so it was essentially off the books (and unregulated). That may have kept him off the radar of the Forced Birth Brigades.

  25. says

    I’m already getting email from Catholics (who knew they’d read my blog so diligently?) informing me that now that I’ve recognized the evil of abortion, they expect me to join them in their crusade against Planned Parenthood.

  26. roro80 says

    Wait wait wait, so when you make laws that severely restrict access to safe abortions, women get them anyway, but in horrible, nightmarish, unsafe conditions, performed by sadistic unethical shitheads? Who ever would’ve thought??

    Answer: every pro-choice person ever.

  27. WharGarbl says

    @roro80
    #27

    Answer: every pro-choice person ever.

    Plus some pro-life people, them immoral baby factories need to be punished.

  28. roro80 says

    #28 — Ugh, that’s so depressing. It’s one thing to be pro-life if you actually think the only effect is saving the baybees for Jesus or whatever, but how fucked up does one have to be to know that this is the result and yet still think this is preferable?

  29. cmaximus says

    The religious right and pro-lifers think that if abortions are illegal then all of teh bebe killing that us pro-choicers just seem to LOVE (sarcasm) will immediately stop. As is usual, they seem to think that the law is this insurmountable thing writ in stone that no one can disobey. In reality, this would just ensure that people will receive dangerous, unhealthy, possibly even immoral, abortions.

    It reminds me of people with an abstinence only policy: “If we say no sex before marriage, then automagically somehow, everyone will stop having sex before marriage. Problem solved!” Neither group seems to understand human nature very well.

  30. Azuma Hazuki says

    “Pro-life” is a smokescreen. Unless those same people are also against war, poverty, and drug abuse, and actively doing something to combat these, they are not “pro-life.” They are anti-choice.

    If their agenda truly were to reduce aborton to zero or near-zero, they would be working on comprehensive sex education, distribution of barrier contraception, and a few other small details like teaching boys and men not to rape.

    I do share one feeling with the “pro-lifers:” I want to see abortion not used outside of medical cases. But I want to see that happen because it’s not needed, not because someone has no recourse. Safe, legal, and rarer than an honest politician is what I hope for.

  31. Xaivius (Formerly Robpowell, Acolyte of His Majesty Lord Niel DeGrasse Tyson I) says

    cmaximus@30

    as has been stated far more eloquently by more urbane folks here: They don’t care about helping, they care about making sure people do the “right” thing, where “right” is defined as “whatever I (or my pastor) tells me to do”

    This shit is disgusting. I haven’t had my stomach physically churn like that since I saw battlefield injuries. I also firmly believe that people need to rip the “pro-life” moniker from these talibangicals. Saying your “pro-life” while advocating for people to die in the streets, reduce health care, and start foreign wars is not “pro-life,” it’s fucking Orwellian newspeak.

  32. says

    PZ @26 – Of course Catholics read your blog diligently, they just don’t understand it. If they did, they wouldn’t be Catholics. And they would even comprehend that you have not, in fact, “recognized the evil of abortion.” I didn’t think it was even possible, but these dumbass emails make Catholics look even more ridiculous than they already do as woman-hating pedophile supporters.

  33. Pteryxx says

    Over at Zinnia’s, she’s reprinted Heather’s takedown of the sensationalizing aspects of the grand jury report.

    In early 2011, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was arrested on charges of murder related to his abortion services: one charge for the death of a woman who had sought an abortion at his Philadelphia clinic, and seven additional charges for the killings of infants that had been born alive. The grand jury report on Gosnell’s clinic contained a variety of emotional appeals that were largely irrelevant to the actual charges, and at the time, the sensationalized report received wide coverage and was frequently used to attack abortion generally. My partner Heather analyzed the report and its subsequent coverage, and found many arguments by the grand jury and the media to be lacking. Many magazines and publications refused to print her analysis, and now that the trial of Gosnell has begun and these same arguments have flared up once more, we’ve chosen to republish her piece here. -Zinnia

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/zinniajones/2013/04/looking-gosnell-in-the-eye/

  34. WharGarbl says

    @roro80
    #28

    Ugh, that’s so depressing. It’s one thing to be pro-life if you actually think the only effect is saving the baybees for Jesus or whatever

    Or some people have no idea what calling themselves pro-life means. I’ve known some people who called themselves pro-life and actually support legalizing abortion, namely being they have no idea what Pro-Life actually stands for.
    I’ve heard the following, paraphrased.
    Acquaintance: “Just because I’m Pro-Life doesn’t mean I don’t support someone else getting an abortion they need.”

    but how fucked up does one have to be to know that this is the result and yet still think this is preferable?

    Assholes?

  35. changerofbits says

    @22 dianne

    With typical right wing logic cognitive dissonance, they are fine with “big government” as long as it’s incompetent or not useful. You wouldn’t want to spend that money on things that help, like educating the public and making sure that clinics have proper oversight so that monsters like Gosnell are shutdown.

  36. Pteryxx says

    Via Salon, this 2011 detailed coverage of the Gosnell investigation and why the inspectors never came after his clinic.

    Neglect of West Philly Abortion Victims Was By Design

    Many people had gotten a glimpse into Gosnell’s grisly operation. But multi-level, panoramic, institutional negligence, a culture of passing the buck and flagrant disregard for patient’s welfare prevented any meaningful investigation.

    “Most appalling of all,” states the grand jury report, “the Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design.”

    After 1993, “the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all … With the change of administration from Governor [Bob] Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions,” the report says.

    That fatal decision was enacted by Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, in response to the legacy inherited by Gov. Casey, a pro-life Democrat who passed landmark legislation in Pennsylvania that enabled states to restrict women’s access to abortion.

    Not only did inspections systematically stop in 1993, red flags were ignored. They include a former employee’s complaint that “laid out the whole scope of [Gosnell’s] operation,” and a malpractice lawsuit over the death of 22-year-old Semika Shaw, a mother of two children who died of sepsis at University of Pennsylvania hospital after Gosnell punctured her uterus.

    The lawsuit was settled for almost a million dollars.

    Local negligence added additional layers to the complex matrix of oversight failure. For example, “Penn could not find a single case in which it complied with its legal duty to alert authorities” in cases where emergency room physicians had to treat ramifications of Gosnell’s botched procedures, as required under the Abortion Control Act.

    As a private physician treating teenage girls in West Philadelphia, Dr. Donald Schwarz—currently Philadelphia’s health commissioner—noticed a pattern of his patients becoming infected with Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted parasite, after appointments at Gosnell’s clinic. Schwarz testified to the grand jury that about six years ago, he “hand-delivered” a complaint about Gosnell’s clinic to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

    Yet in his two years as the city’s health commissioner, he did not check into Gosnell’s practice.

    [...]

    “If Dr. Schwarz’s complaint did not trigger an inspection, we are convinced that none would,” the jury stated.

    “Pennsylvania is not a third-world country,” asserts the report. “There were several oversight agencies that … should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago. But none of them did.”

    And so, with the eyes of the state averted, Gosnell and his staff—the clinic was run by a tight-knit group of relatives and friends—were able to get away with regularly scheduled murders.

    All of this is ALSO in the grand jury report… while the grisly pictures and descriptions of filth will get all the attention, played up by the anti-abortion cause.

  37. WharGarbl says

    @Pteryxx
    #37
    This part worries me.

    After 1993, “the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all … With the change of administration from Governor [Bob] Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be ‘putting a barrier up to women’ seeking abortions,” the report says.

    That fatal decision was enacted by Gov. Tom Ridge, a pro-choice Republican, in response to the legacy inherited by Gov. Casey, a pro-life Democrat who passed landmark legislation in Pennsylvania that enabled states to restrict women’s access to abortion.

    I can just see the attack now.
    “See! All this happened because of a pro-death traitor!”

  38. Olav says

    Iris van der Pluym #9 quotes Kate Michelman:

    Another Gosnell patient, Davida Johnson, noted in an Associated Press article that she intended to go to Planned Parenthood for an abortion procedure, but was scared away by anti-abortion protesters picketing outside the clinic.

    I am not American, perhaps that is the reason for my befuddlement. I do understand that freedom of speech is extremely important, and even a bit more than extremely important in the absolutist eyes of some Americans. But there is also something called public order, and it must surely be a known concept in the US as well. When protestors are intimidating and hindering people who are going about their business legally, why doesn’t the police show up (in full riot gear, if need be) and clear the streets?

    They could still have their freedom of speech of course, but somewhere else.

  39. PatrickG says

    @ Olav:

    Quick drive-by, because this thread will definitely be giving me nightmares later and I’d prefer not to linger… but in short “public order” in the US is easily trumped by “free speech”. The Right (and some others) are very adept at donning the mantle of Free Speech as a way to cover actions that would seem to contravene public order. Usually, it’s a pretty successful tactic. See, for instance, the happily litigious Westboro Baptist Church.

    More specifically, on the subject of protests at abortion clinics, I believe the standard line is to claim that protests are protected free speech, in that they are taking place in public spaces (e.g. the sidewalk outside a clinic — note that clinics that don’t front onto public property can’t be picketed legally, at least not on the private property) and are clearly targeted at “objectionable” policy by the state (i.e. letting women control their bodies, the horror). It’s been a hotly contested issue in the courts.

    Here‘s a pretty decent history and case summary of the issues surrounding abortion clinic protests.

    Here’s a couple of other overview articles that might be helpful to someone from outside the US:

    Balancing the right of patients and employees to unimpeded access to the abortion clinic against the protesters’ right to free speech — USSC Madsen v. Women’s Health Center, No. 93-880. I’m fairly sure this is the foundational case for constitutionally-permitted buffer zones.

    Obama administrations greater push to enforce active law described here. This also has some good analysis of the anti- position, and their cries of censorship and constitutional violation. Of special note is that this is still a very contested issue — note that administration efforts are focused on enforcing laws from 1994.

    TL;DR: “Public order” is not valued as highly in the US as it is in other nations. Free speech/freedom of expression are given much greater weight, and the resulting court decisions typically focus on whether or not an injunction/buffer zone infringes on speech. Strangely, that wasn’t an issue when the GOP designated a “free speech zone” miles away from their convention…. it’s almost like there’s a double standard.

  40. Olav says

    PatrickG #40, thanks for your reply:

    TL;DR: “Public order” is not valued as highly in the US as it is in other nations. Free speech/freedom of expression are given much greater weight,

    I gathered as much of course, but I still don’t quite understand why that works out the way it does. If people enjoying their right of free speech are restricting the freedom of others to do the things they are legally entitled to do, isn’t that a clear case where intervention is needed? Harassment and threats aren’t free speech, are they?

    and the resulting court decisions typically focus on whether or not an injunction/buffer zone infringes on speech. Strangely, that wasn’t an issue when the GOP designated a “free speech zone” miles away from their convention…. it’s almost like there’s a double standard.

    You don’t say.

    I do see the potential problems with such “free speech zones”. But they could be a solution for the anti-abortion protestors. Let them protest far from the clinics. A freshly ploughed field at the edge of town (after a week of heavy rain) should do nicely.

  41. says

    I went through over two hundred pages of that horror. It was “gag-reflex-inducing”. It contained descriptions of the most horrible and disgusting practices I’ve heard of all week and the most outrageous acts of bureaucratic and state incompetence I’ve heard of all month. Did you know impersonating a doctor wasn’t a crime in Pennsylvania when that report was written?
    The fact I support strict regulation of “ambulatory surgical facilities” is one of the reasons I do not describe myself as a libertarian.

  42. schweinhundt says

    thumper1990, @5:

    Even more twisted, the folks using this case as “ammo” against anti-gun-but-pro-choice liberals. E.g.: “If this doctor had used an AR-15 to kill that many babies, the left would be OUTRAGED.” (I couldn’t find a link to article making this point but you’ll see it in some readers’ posts and I heard a local talk radio host exploiting that meme.)

  43. phere says

    Oh this was so sickening to read. I don’t understand how viable babies could be treated like hamburger meat – these were little people at this point for fuck’s sake. And killed while viable in such a grotesque manner? I sound almost pro-life – I’m absolutely not. After having my own spawnling a few years back, my awe of the development and the amazing experience of carrying a life changed me. Stories of bad shit happening to babies and children hit me so much more personally than they did before I had kids. I don’t think, at this point in my life, I could personally choose an abortion unless my life were at risk, however I abhor the though of someone making that decision for other women and myself. There are many, many reasons why it’s a bad idea to bring a new life into this crazy world and it’s not up to lawmakers to decide the issue for me. I do wonder why someone would go through a late-term abortion without it being a medical necessity – once you are in your 3rd trimester you have a sense that there is a person in there – with a personality – you know when they are sleeping, you know when they are awake, you know when they respond to your voice or other stimulus. Yet, maybe the reasons for considering such an option is darker than the act of late term abortion itself. The very fact that this clinic existed at all is a testament to the many layers of problems we face as women, and a society. From abuse and violence, to legislation regarding our reproductive rights, to religious bullying and oppression – it’s all right there in those bloody rooms in Philadelphia.

  44. says

    This is very disturbing. And the reason those pro-life protesters aren’t at these illegally run clinics is not because they don’t know about them. They do, but the protest Planned Parenthood because “they aren’t paying taxes to fund abortion”. It’s about the money. As if that’s all Planned Parenthood does. That’s only a fraction of the services Planned Parenthood provides. But you already knew that.

    Another irony: the same conservatives who don’t think we should tighten gun laws believe that we should completely ban abortion.

  45. carolw says

    Wow. It took me several hours and several beers to get through that document. How do people get so detached from what they are doing? How do they treat fellow humans like that? Shit. Now I’m even more depressed.

  46. ButchKitties says

    For a less gut-churning, less trigger-y read on the benefits of safe, legal abortion, there’s Julia Sweeney’s latest book. In Chapter 16, she and her mother-in-law Norma compare their abortion stories. Julia’s was a legal abortion done in L.A. in the early 90s, and the worst thing for her was feeling bad for some of the other women who seemed like they lacked support at home. Norma got an illegal abortion in Washington DC in the late 50s, and her story reads like a goddamn mob movie script. Meeting people on street corners (hold a Reader’s Digest so we will know it’s you) and getting blindfolded before being driven to an unknown location. Her husband not being allowed to come and waiting for hours for her to be dropped off on the streets. Her husband thinking she’s probably died and her body dumped when they don’t show up until hours after the appointed drop-off time. And as she tells it, Norma openly admits that hers was a relatively high-end abortion, and that she got much better care than women who couldn’t come up with $1100 cash, which an online inflation calculator says would be more like $8700 today.

  47. Pteryxx says

    TheRoot’s take on why women were desperate enough to go to Gosnell: (link)

    Passed in 1976, the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal Medicaid funding from being used for abortion procedures. Under the law, women with Medicaid as their health insurance can use it for an abortion only if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or represents a danger to their health.

    [...]

    “Because of racial inequalities in income in the U.S.,” said Stephanie Poggi, executive director of the Boston-based National Network of Abortion Funds, which advocates for abortion laws and provides funding for women, “poor women of color are more likely to be enrolled in Medicaid and therefore are disproportionately and severely harmed by restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion.”

    Poggi told The Root that every year, her fund receives requests for help from more than 110,000 women but is able to help only approximately 26,000. In Philadelphia, some women sought out Gosnell’s services for late-second-trimester and illegal third-trimester abortions, which can cost up to $5,000. Pro-choice advocates say that less than 1.5 percent of women who are seeking to end pregnancies pursue late-term abortions, however.

    [...]

    Black women obtained 40.2 percent of all pregnancy terminations in the United States in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest statistics available. That percentage is disproportionately higher than those of white and Hispanic women, even though blacks make up only 13 percent of the population.

    And while agencies such as the Guttmacher Institute and Planned Parenthood attribute the higher abortion rate among blacks to a higher incidence of unintended pregnancies — pointing to a need for better access to family planning education and resources — pro-lifers argue that the rate is tied to access to the procedure.

    That link again, for the national network of financial abortion assistance: http://www.fundabortionnow.org

    and as I’ve said before, what I wouldn’t give for some sort of Sponsor-an-IUD program for poor and nonwhite teenagers.

    Another disturbing, first-hand story about the pre-Roe underground network: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2004/09/way-it-was

    The doctor had a trace of some sort of European accent. German, I guessed. He was about a foot shorter than I was, and behaved with obsequious deference, as if I had dropped in for an afternoon sherry. He gestured toward the examining table with a courtly flourish. I sat between the leg supports while he stood close and asked questions: Last period, how many times had I had sex, was I married, how many men had I had sex with, did they have large or small penises, were they circumcised, what positions, did I like it?

  48. Tony Miller says

    They told me that if abortion were illegal, then women would die in back-alley abortions. Well, abortion is legal, and women are still dying, not in back alley abortions, but in clinics known to the government regulators who are supposed to keep these medical procedures safe for women.

    So let me get this straight. The logic here is that because of “excessive” regulation (the regulations that treat abortion clinics like any other surgical facility), women go to unregulated butchers like Gosnell (who are not following the rules for safe medical procedures). So if we’d only remove the regulations, then the abortion clinics would use safe practices voluntarily rather than not do them when they are imposed by the government. I don’t think the “free” thinking that I’m experiencing here is “logical” thinking.

    I am encouraged by the number of people here who are horrified by the babies getting scissors in their brains and getting their spinal cords snipped while they are crying after taking their first breath. Or maybe I’m misunderstanding, and the horror is engendered by the perforated bowels and uteruses, and venerial diseases transmitted to the women. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt.

    So if you want to see abortion safe, I suggest you lobby for proper regulation of your local abortion clinic. Encourage them to stick to the gestational guidelines, and stop making excuses for women who want an abortion after going past the gestational limits. At that point, they have made their “choice”.

    And prosecute those butchers who prey on these women. As someone who is unapologetically pro-life (and believes the choice is made when the zipper is unzipped and the legs are spread), I’d prefer to see all abortion made illegal. But brick by brick. First stigamatize abortionists, and discourage doctors who value their reputation from getting into this line of work. Then regulate the abortion industry to the same degree as any other surgical procedure. It should be as safe to get an abortion as it is to get your appendix out, and third push strongly for informed consent laws, including ultrasounds (unless the potential mother refuses).

    Oh, and finally, I am personally going to tar the entire abortion industry with this man. Many of you, I’m sure, used Sandy Hook Elementary to tar every legal gun owner and push for more regulations on us. So sauce for the goose and all that.

  49. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    At that point, they have made their “choice”.

    You’ve just shouted “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT”

  50. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    You two are just saying that because you can’t deal with The Truth [insert thunder and lightning] when you read it.

    *nods sagely*


    No, really, it felt like all that was missing from fool’s comment was some thunder to mark the great revelations he had brought to us. It is rather remarkable to see such carefully constructed pile of shit. I feel we should pin a medal to his shit-smeared puffed up chest.

  51. glodson says

    Here’s a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2013/04/12/there_is_no_gosnell_coverup/"good article to read for everyone. Those with brains will see how and why this was story wasn’t covered till recently.

    For idiots, this will explain why the Gosnell story doesn’t make your stupid point.

    From the article:

    After all, the question is not just why the state failed to respond to the complaints of women and advocates who visited the clinic, although that matters hugely. It’s why women kept going there anyway: because they felt they had no alternative. Read this account from Jeff Deeney, a social worker from Philadelphia, who points out that the lack of public funding for abortion is a big factor leading desperate women to Gosnell: “It’s worth noting for outsiders that Health Center #4 which serves the same neighborhood is the best in town, providing quality care for the uninsured poor. But Health Centers don’t do abortions, and Medicaid, where a TANF mom’s insurance coverage would come from, if she had any at all, doesn’t pay for them. And for these women the cost of paying for an abortion out of pocket breaks the budget, leaving mom scrambling to make next month’s rent or possibly wind up on the street.” Cost is also how women often get past the legal gestational limit, as they struggle to save up enough money — and Gosnell’s willingness to break the law was what made him their last chance. To everyone who thinks his case was a reason for more abortion restrictions: What he did was already illegal.

  52. PatrickG says

    Wow. I think the best part of that was being pissed off about us liberals coming fer his guns. Take THAT, liberal scum!

    Can we get a BENGHAZI too? Maybe a demand for the birth certificate? Not even a mention of Agenda 21! It’s just … not quite there yet, Tony. Why you leaving us hanging?

    But I’ll respond to one very specific thing out of that word salad:

    It should be as safe to get an abortion as it is to get your appendix out

    Oh my, yes, it should. Glad we agree on that. Now, since abortion is still legal in this country, how about you anti-women people stop shutting down clinics, shooting doctors, and defunding vital health services?

    That is what makes abortion unsafe. People like you. You must be so proud.