Gosnell, 69 — a family practice physician not certified to perform abortions — was arraigned Thursday on charges of murdering seven babies and one patient. The indictment against him detailed a gruesome litany of failures and refusals to uphold even the most basic public health guidelines.
Authorities allege that Gosnell and a fleet of undertrained — sometimes untrained — workers ran a ghoulish operation in Philadelphia in which labor was induced in very late-term pregnancies with unsanitary equipment, the viable babies born alive and killed with scissors to the spine, and their body parts left in jars — or clogging plumbing into which unattended women had given birth.
Nearly a decade ago, according to legal documents, a former Gosnell employee gave the state’s Board of Medicine a complaint that “laid out the whole scope of his operation: the unclean, unsterile conditions; the unlicensed workers; the unsupervised sedation; the underage abortion patients; even the over-prescribing of pain pills with high resale value on the street.”
Nothing was done.
In its report, the grand jury said failures of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other agencies — including the Department of State, under which the Board of Medicine falls — allowed the clinic to operate nearly unimpeded since the late ’70s. It hadn’t been inspected since 1993 and wasn’t closed until it was finally raided as part of a drug bust early last year.
We have spent the past couple of weeks engaged in a hot fight over the rhetorical “climate” that led to the Tucson shooting, even though there’s no evidence that anyone’s rhetoric had anything to do with that. What about the climate that led to Dr. Gosnell’s murder spree, which spanned decades? We will never even know the full scope and horror of his crimes, because he destroyed the documents. We won’t hear the media or anyone who made rhetoric the centerpiece of their post-Tucson politics utter a single word about the climate that allowed Gosnell to operate uninspected and unimpeded. The evidence of his crimes was there. The state looked the other way since at least 1993, because abortion politics dominated officials’ thinking.
That’s a political climate that permitted serial murder of the most innocent and vulnerable, and it is truly vile and evil.