Politics, Abortion, and Infanticide: Notes on the State of Pennsylvania

The grand jury report incident to the indictment for murder and infanticide of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell has now been released, and it is telling. Some three-hundred pages in length, it reveals that the abortion mill that Dr. Gosnell ran at the Women’s Medical Society had not been inspected since 1993.

“According to the prosecutors,” Marian Wang at ProPublica reports, “Gosnell and his associates not only broke state law by performing abortions after 24 weeks—they also killed live babies by stabbing them with scissors and cutting their spinal cords.”

Law enforcement officials found blood-stained furniture, unsterilized instruments and fetal remains scattered about the clinic. At least one woman, a refugee from Nepal, had died under Gosnell’s care after being given repeated injections of a dangerous sedative. Prosecutors said Gosnell made millions from treating and sometimes maiming his patients, who were mostly low-income, minority women.

But perhaps most frightening of all? The atrocities were discovered by accident, as the Philadelphia Inquirer points out. Warnings—from patients and their attorneys, a doctor at a Philadelphia hospital, women’s health groups, pro-choice groups, and even an employee of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health—failed to prompt state and local authorities to investigate or take action against the clinic.

Apparently, the failure to inspect the facility was a consequence of deliberate public policy, and the man responsible was Tom Ridge, a pro-abortion Republican who acted soon after he took over the gubernatorial chair from Bob Casey, an anti-abortion Democrat. Here is what the grand jury found:

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. . . .

Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety. Without regular inspections, providers like Gosnell continue to operate; unlawful and dangerous third-trimester abortions go undetected; and many women, especially poor women, suffer.

I would not be at all surprised if something of the sort turned out to be the norm.

  1. Funeral Guy

    So I guess if you’re a modern day Quasimodo in need of sanctuary from the authorities in Pennsylvania, the place you would head for would be an abortion clinic. 

  2. KC Mulville

    The scary thought … how many others? Not just in Pennsylvania.

  3. Ross C

    Cynicism alert…

    I am having a vision of the near future, where this story will be spun into something decrying the laws forbidding late term abortions that drove thousands of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable women into this house of horrors.  I can see protesters with coat hangers picketing the legislature to calls for new state and perhaps federal regulation and (alas) funding along with chants of “never again”.

  4. raycon and lindacon

    For decades there has been little question in the minds of abortion opponents that this would be the case.  In what way could we have any level of trust at all of a person who would murder babies for a living.  Good ol’ Tommy Ridge, reliable RINO, deserves a place in that same trust category.  Oh yes, and not only does he enable baby murderers, but we also had the pleasure of depending on him for homeland security.  Ross Conaster, above, has already stated the case for what we will find out from this, and the Tom Ridges’ of America will continue to enable this evil.  Thanks Tom… we always knew you had it in ya’.

  5. Peter Christofferson
    Paul A. Rahe: “I would not be at all surprised if something of the sort turned out to be the norm.”

    What strikes me is that we’ve been told this was the norm when abortion was illegal. Supposedly we don’t dare outlaw abortion because it will “force thousands of women to seek dangerous, back-alley abortions”. Really?

    Instead we have an abortion industry that exploits the poorest, most unfortunate women in our society at a moment when each of them is at the lowest, most vulnerable moment she will likely ever face. We musn’t interfere with the abortionists in any way, of course, since that might have a “chilling effect” on the extremely valuable work they’re doing. So naturally they feel entirely at liberty to do with impunity precisely what this despicable monster did for years.

  6. Patrick Shanahan

    One note of caution – we conservatives should know what it feels like for one bad actor to be used as a club with which to beat an entire group. This situation is appalling on its face, but take care not to conclude too quickly what it represents in the larger abortion industry.

    That said, this is exactly the sort of thing one would expect to happen when ideology becomes the overriding consideration. For some reason, the ideological blinders of serious abortion advocates force them to violate why that is.the most basic precepts of oversight or compromise.  I would really like to understand why that is.

  7. Scott R

     The clinic didn’t get regular looksees because nobody wants to look at such ugliness, most especially Tom Ridge. The question is, Why not, if it’s so morally neutral?

  8. cdor

    “According to the prosecutors,” Marian Wang at ProPublica reports, “Gosnell and his associates not only broke state law by performing abortions after 24 weeks—they also killed live babies by stabbing them with scissors and cutting their spinal cords.”

    Dear God. How can such evil exist?

  9. Peter Christofferson
    Patrick Shanahan: “One note of caution – we conservatives should know what it feels like for one bad actor to be used as a club with which to beat an entire group. This situation is appalling on its face, but take care not to conclude too quickly what it represents in the larger abortion industry.”

    “One bad actor”? No way. This isn’t the equivalent of one guy who steals from his customers giving honest capitalists everywhere a black eye. I don’t care how legal this procedure is, the people who willingly perform it should be anathametized, at every possible opportunity. For crying out loud, as Scott points out, even the people who support legalized abortion don’t want to consort with the kind of person who would actually make a living at it.

  10. Lo Fon
    Ross Conatser

     I suspect it was a gradual erosion of the Dr.’s general regard of humanity.  · Jan 22 at 8:20pm

    Therein lies the problem.  Some people see the unborn child at certain stages as inhuman physical matter (a blob of cells, a fetus, a potential human); others see the unborn child, at any age, as a human with a soul and intrinsic value.  If an unborn child at 5 months is only a physical being it’s hard to see him/her as anything but a physical being at 6 months.  Once you deny the soul and intrinsic worth at the beginning, it’s difficult to then say at some point, “there, now that blob has a soul and intrinsic worth.” If a human being does not have intrinsic worth as an unborn child at three months, there is no logical dissonance in saying that he/she does not have intrinsic worth at four months, five months… or as a born child.  I think the dissonance occurs when we try and say that the unborn child is worthy of life at one age and not another.

  11. Ross C
    Paul A. Rahe: 

    I would not be at all surprised if something of the sort turned out to be the norm. ·

    Now that I have thought about it I think I would not be surprised either.  I think the disregard Dr. Gosnell showed his patients in terms of hygiene and care is part and parcel of his practice.  I suspect it was a gradual erosion of the Dr.’s general regard of humanity.  After you have terminated thousands of pregnancies, how much easier it must be to kill a child that survived?  After you have killed numerous children born alive during botched abortions, it is no wonder he felt no regard for the lives and health of his patients.

  12. Charles Mark

    Has the President commented on this? I am mindful of his position on an Illinois “born alive” piece of legislation. This is not to doubt for a moment that Obama would abhor and condemn this situation. However it could be seen as a consequence partly of extreme pro-choice rhetoric (and not just rhetoric). Indeed I would suggest the dots join up a lot more readily than has been achieved in the other recent controversy.

  13. Pseudodionysius
    Ross Conatser

    Paul A. Rahe: 

    I would not be at all surprised if something of the sort turned out to be the norm. ·

    Now that I have thought about it I think I would not be surprised either.  I think the disregard Dr. Gosnell showed his patients in terms of hygiene and care is part and parcel of his practice.  I suspect it was a gradual erosion of the Dr.’s general regard of humanity.  After you have terminated thousands of pregnancies, how much easier it must be to kill a child that survived?  After you have killed numerous children born alive during botched abortions, it is no wonder he felt no regard for the lives and health of his patients. · Jan 22 at 8:20pm

    An excellent point, which is why I put up a member post on Dr Bernard Nathanson, a doctor who performed 60-75,000 abortions, including one on a woman he himself impregnated.

  14. Casey Way
    Lo Fon

    Therein lies the problem.  Some people see the unborn child at certain stages as inhuman physical matter (a blob of cells, a fetus, a potential human); others see the unborn child, at any age, as a human with a soul and intrinsic value.  If an unborn child at 5 months is only a physical being it’s hard to see him/her as anything but a physical being at 6 months.  Once you deny the soul and intrinsic worth at the beginning, it’s difficult to then say at some point, “there, now that blob has a soul and intrinsic worth.” If a human being does not have intrinsic worth as an unborn child at three months, there is no logical dissonance in saying that he/she does not have intrinsic worth at four months, five months… or as a born child.  I think the dissonance occurs when we try and say that the unborn child is worthy of life at one age and not another. · Jan 23 at 7:39am

    Strong and concise argument that would be appreciated over here.

  15. Lo Fon
    Casey Way

    Lo Fon

    Therein lies the problem. 

    Strong and concise argument that would be appreciated over here. · Jan 23 at 3:37pm

    Thanks Casey.  I was thinking of weighing in on that other thread, but I was too busy at work.

    Actually I think Santorum was right.  If you look at the argument in the Dred Scott decision and then consider that the 14th amendment was implemented to overturn Dred, when you see how the 14th amendment was used to find a right to abortion, you see an eerie similarity in the way the Court denied rights to slaves and the unborn.

    I remember my lefty-professor in law school saying that Roe was an embarrassment to the legal profession, but we need to keep it because of reliance on access to abortion.  In my opinion Roe and its predecessors are as vacuous as the logic used to justify abortion.

    I also find it ironic that Obama says abortion is a family decision that shouldn’t involve the government.  You could also frame it as a matter for the citizenry of the states to decide.   The Court, however, has stepped in and taken that decision away from the citizenry. 

  16. jhimmi

    If a pregnant woman wants an abortion, but can’t afford it, or does not have access to an abortion clinic, or is in her third trimester, then theoretically she is a candidate for a dangerous back alley abortion.

    The only way to prevent back alley abortions is free (taxpayer subsidized) abortions, abortion clinics on every corner (maybe combine them with Starbucks?), and abortions permitted right up to the moment of birth.

    You can see this logic at work here – if an abortion clinic chronically fails safety inspections, what to do? If you close the abortion clinic, then you’re reducing access to regulated abortions, increasing the number of unregulated abortions. Really, each extreme of the abortion debate have the best arguments – all one way or all the other way. The middle ground is really the hardest to defend.

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