The victims and their families received justice May 13 when Dr. Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of first degree murder in the deaths of three babies born alive, then stabbed with scissors. He was sentenced last Wednesday to a third life term for killing an aborted baby that he described as so big it could “walk to the bus.”
The sentences offer no chance at parole, meaning Gosnell will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Gosnell was acquitted in the death of a fourth baby but was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the overdose of a patient.
Prosecutors successfully argued Gosnell, 72, delivered babies alive and had their spines severed with scissors to kill them.
The defense had argued there were no live births at the clinic.
The case drew national attention when details came out in 2010 after federal agents raiding Gosnell’s clinic in search of drug violations instead found “deplorable and unsanitary” conditions including blood on the floor and parts of aborted fetuses in jars. Authorities described finding bags and bottles of fetuses at the foul-smelling filth clinic and unsterile instruments that were reused.
The full extent of Gosnell’s horrific actions may never be known. Prosecutors said they couldn’t prosecute more cases because Gosnell destroyed files but estimated that Gosnell ended hundreds of pregnancies by inducing labor and cutting the babies’ spinal cords and caused scores of women to suffer infections and permanent internal injuries
Anti-abortion activists and conservative commentators have used the Gosnell case as an argument against abortion providers.
One anti-abortion group, Live Action, has used the case to publicize the latest in a series of undercover videos it has made at abortion clinics.
The fact is that the Gosnell case showed that state and local authorities didn’t enforce existing regulations. Instead an argument can be made that the victims who were poor and minority women would have been safer if they had more regulated options.
Fortunately the jurors rejected the insulting and offensive argument made by Gosnell’s defense lawyer, Jack McMahon, who accused officials of “a targeted elitist and racist prosecution” and “a prosecutorial lynching” of his client, who is African-American, and of applying “Mayo Clinic” standards to Gosnell’s inner-city, cash-only clinic.
The Gosnell case also demonstrates that oversight and tighter restrictions are needed.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)