The story of Dr. Kermit Barron Gosnell’s so-called Women’s Medical Society in West Philadelphia is now making headlines, even though he was arrested in January 2011. He is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. (UPDATE: Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Minehart dismissed three of the murder charges April 23.)
News reports are uncovering the barbaric treatment of women in crisis pregnancies seeking abortions from Gosnell and his staff. Given unsafe and sometimes illegal sedation drugs, women and girls, as young as 14, underwent botched and late-term abortions. The result was aborted children, born alive and summarily exterminated, and women left with perforated wombs and bowels.
Gosnell’s trial in Philadelphia began March 18. The grand jury report offers a horrendous description of disturbing medical procedures that did nothing to promote the sanctity of life.
As despicable as Gosnell’s actions were, the inaction of agencies charged with monitoring health care violations at medical facilities is just as disturbing. What allowed the slaughter to continue was governmental agency fears of casting aspersions on abortion rights. Political gamesmanship took precedence over basic human decency. As the grand jury report noted, “The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all.”
The grand jury report concludes with a scathing rebuke of the political nature of abortion rights.
“We think the reason no one acted (to shut down Gosnell’s abortion clinic) 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.”
The culture of death takes on many appearances. Whether it is wrapped in the backpack of a bomb-wielding criminal or in the blood-stained lab coat of a so-called medical professional who uses life-saving surgical tools to terminate living, breathing babies, our challenge as people of faith with respect for life is ongoing. If we are truly a society that treasures the sanctity of life, we must speak out against all forms of violence, especially against the poor and the most vulnerable among us.
Perhaps the case of Kermit Gosnell will shake this country to its knees and demand that new ways be found to help women facing crisis pregnancies; ways that will prevent them from feeling their only option is to terminate the life in their wombs.
The mainstream media has finally latched on to this story and is now asking questions. This may be part of the impetus to reverse the culture of death. We showed our outrage in Boston. Now we must show our outrage in Philadelphia.