Why Gosnell clinic existed

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is on trial for the murder of seven infants and a Virginia woman at his West Philadelphia abortion clinic. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is on trial for the murder of seven infants and a Virginia woman at his West Philadelphia abortion clinic. YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Posted: April 04, 2013

By Michael J. McMonagle

The trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell for the deaths of seven infants and a Virginia woman presents huge public-relations problems for the abortion industry. So, as expected, local media coverage is minimal, particularly when compared with the ubiquitous coverage of Msgr. William Lynn, who was convicted of child endangerment in last year's clergy-abuse trial, and former state Sen. Vince Fumo, who was found guilty of more than 130 charges.

Public relations aside, Gosnell's facility existed for three reasons.

First, the vast culture of death in our nation, enabled by rampant promiscuity and the resultant family breakdown, encouraged women to disconnect children from sexual behavior. Therefore, an unborn child was a "burden" to be eliminated, rather than a welcome gift.

Second, Gosnell's "medical practice" reflects the application of "pro-choice logic," which asserts that an expectant mother has the "legal right" to determine whether her child is delivered dead or alive. As a result, "snipping" the spines of infants born alive, as Gosnell is accused of doing, was simply fulfilling the desires of the expectant mothers seeking to be "treated" for being pregnant.

Finally, the conditions at Gosnell's facility existed because the state Health Department "decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all," according to the grand jury report against Gosnell. Annual inspections stopped in the mid-1990s, under Gov. Tom Ridge, and the policy continued under Gov. Ed Rendell, the report said. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has been quoted as saying there was "more oversight of women's hair salons and nail salons" than over abortion facilities in the state.

Inspections have been increased under Gov. Corbett. In addition, after a lengthy legislative struggle, in December 2011, Corbett signed a new law requiring abortion facilities to meet the minimum standards of "ambulatory surgical facilities" and be subject to at least one unannounced inspection each year.

Despite the fact that the Health Department has very liberally enforced this new law, it closed more than 40 percent (9 of 22) of Pennsylvania's abortion facilities in 2012. These closures demonstrate that significant deficiencies existed at many other abortion facilities across the commonwealth.

The enactment of new facilities regulations renewed Pennsylvania's proud history of passing laws to reduce the number of abortions in our state. These laws include Medicaid-funding restrictions, informed consent, parental consent, and the 24-hour waiting period.

These laws and an active pro-life movement have resulted in a decline in the number of abortions committed in our state, from 65,777 in 1980 to 36,280 in 2011. Through an extensive network of pregnancy centers, this movement serves tens of thousands of women in a crisis pregnancy every year at no charge.

Abortion is never safe. Abortion results in the death of a child and serious physical and psychological harms to the mother. Thus, all abortion facilities share similarities with Gosnell's facility. One major difference is that most of the children killed at other facilities are younger than the victims Gosnell is accused of murdering.


Michael J. McMonagle is the president of the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania. E-mail him at paprolifecoalition@gmail.com.

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