The advent of “safe, legal abortion” didn’t interfere with Gosnell’s back-alley career. The grand jury’s account suggests that other abortionists treated him less as an outlaw than as a niche player in the abortion market. He earned a bad reputation in Philadelphia but received referrals from across the Eastern Seaboard. Many of the women dispatched to him were “well beyond” 24 weeks pregnant, the legal limit in Pennsylvania. …

According to the grand jury, Gosnell’s method of “abortion” in these late-term cases was infanticide, plain and simple. He or an untrained staffer would induce labor, deliver the baby alive, and then perform the procedure they called by the chilling euphemism “snipping”—slashing the infant to death with scissors to the neck and spine. “Over the years, there were hundreds of ‘snippings,’ ” the grand jury found. …

Part of the reason for the regulatory failure was simple bureaucratic indifference or incompetence. Inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Health visited several times between 1979 and 1993, noted problems, and didn’t bother following up. But after 1993, the inspectors never reappeared until the 2010 raid. The reason was political. …

Meanwhile, the claim that Roe v. Wade made America safe from back-alley abortion stands exposed as a cruel hoax, and a deadly one for women and children alike.