Abortionist faces eight counts of murder in Philadelphia; Update: How did he escape notice so long? "By design"

This may be as ghastly a story outside of the Tucson massacre as we’ll see all year … I hope.  An abortionist arrested in Philadelphia faces eight counts of murder, one for the death of a patient, and the other seven for killing babies who survived his botched abortions.  The district attorney alleges that Kermit Gosnell used a pair of scissors to sever their spinal cords:

A West Philadelphia abortion doctor, his wife and eight other suspects are now under arrest following a grand jury investigation.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, faces eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman following a botched abortion at his office, along with the deaths of seven other babies who, prosecutors allege, were born alive following illegal late-term abortions and then were killed by severing their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. …

Gosnell is facing Murder in the 3rd Degree for the death of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar. Mrs. Mongar died on November 20, 2009 when she was overdosed with anesthetics prescribed by Gosnell. He is also facing seven Murder charges for the deaths of infants who were killed after being born viable and alive during the 6th, 7th and 8th month of pregnancy. Gosnell is also facing numerous other charges.

Gosnell is suspected of killing hundreds of living babies over the course of his 30 year practice. However, he is not charged because the records do not exist.

What a shock it must be to find that Gosnell didn’t keep records of his illegal abortions and outright murders.  This was no fly-by-night operation, either.  Gosnell made over $1.8 million in one year, the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia reports.  Also, Gosnell is reportedly the target of a federal probe into illegal prescriptions.

The district attorney felt the need to defend his prosecution to the media, for some reason:

“I am aware that abortion is a hot-button topic,” said District Attorney Seth Williams. “But as District Attorney, my job is to carry out the law. A doctor who knowingly and systematically mistreats female patients, to the point that one of them dies in his so-called care, commits murder under the law. A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law.”

Indeed.  And it says something about the current debate over abortion that Williams even had to explain this.  This is worse than the controversy in the 2008 presidential election about Barack Obama’s successful action to block a bill requiring doctors to provide care to babies born alive during abortion procedures.  This “doctor” allegedly went out of his way to kill them after the birth through a brutal and heartless procedure, not just neglect.  And he made a fortune from doing so.

My guess is that few people will rush to defend Gosnell’s alleged actions, apart from the fringe like Peter Singer who argue that parents should have the option of terminating an infant’s life past a live birth.  But this revelation will certainly linger in the minds of everyone else, and have people asking how many more Gosnells may be making their own fortunes through similar means.

Update: I’ve just started reading the grand jury report, which is sickening, but raises an important question — how did Gosnell get away with it for so long?  Forget about the murders of live babies for a moment and read this description of Gosnell’s work from the section titled “Butcher of women”:

One woman, for example, was left lying in place for hours after Gosnell tore her cervix and colon while trying, unsuccessfully, to extract the fetus. Relatives who came to pick her up were refused entry into the building; they had to threaten to call the police. They eventually found her inside, bleeding and incoherent, and transported her to the hospital, where doctors had to remove almost half a foot of her intestines.

On another occasion, Gosnell simply sent a patient home, after keeping her mother waiting for hours, without telling either of them that she still had fetal parts inside her. Gosnell insisted she was fine, even after signs of serious infection set in over the next several days. By the time her mother got her to the emergency room, she was unconscious and near death.

A nineteen-year-old girl was held for several hours after Gosnell punctured her uterus.  As a result of the delay, she fell into shock from blood loss, and had to undergo a hysterectomy.

One patient went into convulsions during an abortion, fell off the procedure table,  and hit her head on the floor.  Gosnell wouldn’t call an ambulance, and wouldn’t let the woman’s companion leave the building so that he could call an ambulance.

That’s at least three incidents where a hospital should have reported Gosnell’s butchery.  Why wasn’t he stopped then?  The politics of abortion (emphasis in the original):

We discovered that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.

The State Legislature has charged the Department of Health (DOH) with responsibility for writing and enforcing regulations to protect health and safety in abortion clinics as well as in hospitals and other health care facilities. Yet a significant difference exists between how DOH monitors abortion clinics and how it monitors facilities where other medical procedures are performed.

Indeed, the department has shown an utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable. State health officials have also shown a disregard for the laws the department is supposed to enforce. Most appalling of all, the Department of Health’s neglect of abortion patients’ safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design. …

State health officials knew that Gosnell and his clinic were offering unacceptable medical care to women and girls, yet DOH failed to take any action to stop the atrocities documented by this Grand Jury. These officials were far more protective of themselves when they testified before the Grand Jury. Even DOH lawyers, including the chief counsel, brought private attorneys with them – presumably at government expense.

Ghastly doesn’t begin to describe this.  Read the report at your own risk.