The Philadelphia (Horror) Story

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Horror stories have no appeal for me. Probably the last one I read was a required Edgar Allen Poe story in college. Since then I've assiduously avoided horror stories, novels, and movies-no Stephen King or Vincent Price for me!

There's one horror story unfolding in the news, however, that I think everyone should be following. That's the story of the trial of former abortionist, Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell is being tried for first-degree murder of seven newborn babies and murder in the third degree of a woman who died after a botched abortion.

The description of the conditions inside the building where Gosnell carried out his grisly trade read like the setting of a truly gruesome horror story. As Gary Bauer reported on a blog for The Weekly Standard (4/3/2013):

When the FBI raided Gosnell's facility in February 2010, they found it littered with animal feces, blood-stained furniture, and unwashed and unsterilized medical instruments. According to an FBI agent, at one point during the search, Gosnell returned to the clinic office to resume being interviewed and have some dinner. "He came back and ate his food still wearing the bloody, torn latex gloves," the agent testified.

Investigators also found baby body parts in bags in a freezer and a collection of baby feet in bottles.

Reading these reports staggers the imagination. But what is equally staggering is that Gosnell's "abortuary"-it certainly couldn't be called a clinic-had not been inspected for more than 17 years!

According to the 281-page grand jury report prepared on his case in January 2011,

After 1993…the Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all. The politics in question were not anti-abortion, but pro. With the change of administration from Governor Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be "putting a barrier up to women" seeking abortions. (pg. 12)

Tom Ridge was a popular governor and easily won re-election in 1998 with 57 percent of the vote in a four-way race. But in spite of being a Roman Catholic, he was known as a "pro-choice Republican" and during his two terms, no one from the state health department was checking on Kermit Gosnell.

Apparently, until he was investigated, Gosnell had no fear that anyone would come in to see what condition his offices were in or check on whether he was abiding by Pennsylvania state law, which does not allow abortions after 24 weeks. As the grand jury report states:

Gosnell routinely relied on unlicensed and untrained staff to treat patients, conduct medical tests, and administer medications without supervision. Even more alarmingly, Gosnell instructed unlicensed workers to sedate patients with dangerous drugs in his absence.... In addition, he regularly performed abortions beyond the 24-week limit prescribed by law. As a result, viable babies were born. Gosnell killed them by plunging scissors into their spinal cords. He taught his staff to do the same.

According to an Associated Press report (3/20/2013), on the second day of the trial a woman who had worked for Gosnell admitted that she carried out Gosnell's instructions to cut the necks of at least 10 babies after they were delivered. Gosnell and another employee would regularly "snip" the spines of babies "to ensure fetal demise," she said.

The AP story reported that woman sobbed as she recounted that she took a cellphone picture of one baby (identified as "Baby A") that was bigger than any she had seen aborted before. She said that Gosnell later joked that the baby was so big he could have walked to the bus stop.

Nevertheless, Gosnell's defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, is disputing that any babies were born alive and is challenging the gestational age of the aborted babies. The grand jury's report, however, includes information from an ultrasound on Baby A done by Gosnell's employee, Kareema Cross, that "recorded a gestational age of 29.4 weeks," (about 7.5 months). The report states:

After the baby was expelled, Cross noticed that he was breathing, though not for long. After about 10 to 20 seconds, while the mother was asleep, "the doctor just slit the neck," said Cross. Gosnell put the boy's body in a shoebox. Cross described the baby as so big that his feet and arms hung out over the sides of the container. Cross said that she saw the baby move after his neck was cut, and after the doctor placed it in the shoebox. Gosnell told her, "[I]t's the baby's reflexes. It's not really moving."

But the report also includes testimony by a neonatologist who stated that this was false. Not only does movement indicate the baby was alive, he would feel a "tremendous amount of pain" when his spinal cord was severed. "So, the fact that Baby Boy A continued to move after his spinal cord was cut with scissors means that he did not die instantly. Maybe the cord was not completely severed. In any case, his few moments of life were spent in excruciating pain."

The horror story of Kermit Gosnell's activities in his West Philadelphia abortion center should be getting major network news coverage. But it is not.

In a column in USA Today (4/11/2013), Kirsten Powers noted, "A Lexis-Nexis search shows none of the news shows on the three major national television networks has mentioned the Gosnell trial in the last three months. The exception is when Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan hijacked a segment on Meet the Press meant to foment outrage over an anti-abortion rights law in some backward red state."

Nothing has changed since Media Research Center president Brent Bozell wrote in a March 26 column, "It's unbelievable that Dr. Gosnell's trial for his actions inside his 'house of horrors' haven't drawn one network story."

It's hard to believe that media outlets are ignoring what investigators found at the now shuttered site. Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue told (4/8/2013), "What the police found inside Gosnell's building literally made them vomit." Newman says they found stacks of dead bodies reminiscent of Nazi-era horrors. "Except the dead bodies were not adults. They were precious little babies who were born alive."

Newman is urging pro-life advocates to bring attention to the trial by whatever means they can including social media, letters to the editor, and radio call-in talk shows.

Dr. Karen Gushta is a writer and researcher for Truth in Action Ministries (formerly Coral Ridge Ministries). Her most recent book is How Can America Survive? The Coming Economic Earthquake. She has also written The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk (2009) and co-authored Ten Truths About Socialism (2010). Dr. Gushta is a former board member of the Broward County Right to Life and is Vice-President of Broward County Eagle Forum. Her doctorate is in Philosophy of Education.