Warning: Graphic descriptions.
But he didn’t just provide abortion services – he preyed on desperate women and coerced them into killing their babies for pleasure. Not only that, but he murdered live infants and kept dead babies’ feet as a souvenir. Now that extreme late-term abortion laws have become popular on both the East and West coasts, his case is more relevant than ever.
The Women Kermit Gosnell Targeted
Abortion is often marketed as “health care.” It’s heralded as a way to help women avoid abuse and poverty. Unfortunately, modern rhetoric decries motherhood and often compares having children to a prison sentence or, at the very least, as a difficult burden.
As these sentiments are pressed on women, many see abortion as their only alternative if they’re struggling. Instead of looking into alternative care options – like free medical care and financial aid from organizations like Birthright – abortion is marketed as a simple procedure, similar to a dental cleaning or any other routine procedure. This acceptance gave Kermit Gosnell the perfect opportunity to abuse his power and manipulate low-income mothers and immigrants.
In fact, it was reported during his 2013 trial that he specifically sought vulnerable women and preyed on them. His facility was highly unsanitary, with reports of leaving fetal remains out overnight, keeping bloodstained chairs for patients to recover in, creating his own late-term abortion device which was a ball of razors coated in lubricant inserted into women’s bodies that cut fetuses to death, refusing to remove dilators when a woman changed her mind during the abortion process, and heavily drugging women to keep them from moaning too loudly post-procedure. These are just a few of the worst practices that directly led the women lured into his practice to suffer from infections, long-term infertility, and even death in one case.
A Botched Abortion Led to a Mother's Death
Karnamaya Mongar was a 41-year-old Bhutan refugee, wife, and mother of two. She lived with her family in Virginia and spoke little to no English. When she became pregnant again, she feared that the family could not support another child. Her daughter, Yashoda Gurung, testified that she tried to convince her mother to keep the baby. Her mother delayed the procedure, and by the time she sought an abortion, she was too far along to have one legally. She was referred to a clinic in Washington D.C. by an abortion clinic in Virginia, and then the D.C. clinic referred her to Gosnell.
In 2009, she took a five-and-a-half hour trip to the Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia. Gosnell pumped Monger full of drugs and told her to come back the next day. She experienced severe abdominal pains. The next day she returned and was given more medication. She told her daughter, “It hurts all over the place.” The women at the clinic put her on an IV and sat her in a dirty recliner. Monger fell asleep and never awoke.
His facility was highly unsanitary, with reports of leaving fetal remains out overnight and using bloodstained chairs.
Her daughter was removed from the area and told that the doctor had arrived. As she waited to find out what happened to her mom, an ambulance was called. She wasn’t allowed to go to her mother, but was taken into the parking lot where she was terrified. Damber Ghalley, a relative of Mongar’s who had driven them to the clinic, also testified at the trial, saying he saw firemen with bolt cutters force open a back door and watched Mongar being taken out on a stretcher. He spotted the doctor and approached him. Gosnell offered no sympathy or explanation other than saying, “The procedure is done. Your sister’s heart stopped.”
Gosnell showed no remorse, which would become the main theme in his trial, but what’s even more concerning is the fact that his clinic was not properly inspected or regulated by the state. In the documentary 3801 Lancaster, Director David Altrogge noted that “His clinic was on a busy street in West Philadelphia, just a stone’s throw away from Drexel University. And the raid in 2010 wasn’t the first time that authorities had heard about Gosnell. According to the grand jury’s report, authorities looked the other way for more than 20 years.”
Gosnell’s facility was inspected randomly between 1978 and 1993, but it took 17 more years before the clinic was raided and shut down. After a grand jury report released this information, six state employees were immediately fired, while eight more were eventually removed. It was unclear how many women had been harmed by Gosnell or how many babies had been killed, because his records were not substantial, but plenty of evidence was found in connection to the murder of live infants.
The Babies Killed
Kermit Gosnell admitted to performing more than 40,000 abortions through 2009. Those who assisted him testified to the gruesome and disturbing details of how this abortion “care provider” killed living infants and even kept their body parts in some cases. Stephen Massof, an unlicensed medical school graduate who worked at the clinic, helped to execute living babies by snipping their spinal cords after delivery. He called it, “literally a beheading,” and noted how “it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place,” when they medicated women to speed up the process.
According to the 281-page Grand Jury Report – which includes its own section on “The Intentional Killing of Viable Babies” – Gosnell’s practice of killing living, breathing infants was commonplace. The report states, “Gosnell’s staff testified about scores of gruesome killings of such born-alive infants carried out mainly by Gosnell, but also by employees Steve Massof, Lynda Williams, and Adrienne Moton. These killings became so routine that no one could put an exact number on them. They were considered ‘standard procedure.’ Yet some of the 100 slaughtered were so fully formed, so much like babies that should be dressed and taken home, that even clinic employees who were accustomed to the practice were shocked.”
In one case, it was reported that a baby boy, called Baby Boy A, was born alive and breathing and that “the doctor just slit the neck.” A similar case alleged that another baby cried and moved about on the clinic counter, and Gosnell “snipped the neck, and said there is nothing to worry about, and he suctioned it.”
Gosnell’s staff testified about scores of gruesome killings of born-alive infants.
Kareema Cross, a worker at the clinic, testified that she witnessed more than 14 babies murdered after being born alive. She noted that when addressing that the babies were alive, Gosnell told her, "they're not really breathing.” As if these details aren’t chilling enough, it was also reported that these babies' skulls were sometimes crushed and then their brains were suctioned out.
What’s even more disturbing is that during the raid which led to a full investigation, the search team found fetal remains stored all over the clinic. These were left in bags, milk cartons, juice boxes, and cat-food containers. Then investigators came upon rows of jars holding the severed feet of dead infants. This is where the psychology of Kermit Gosnell began to come into play, and why it’s believed that he not only enjoyed his killings, but kept baby feet as souvenirs.
For anyone who has not lost a baby or doesn’t know one who has, mothers often wish to take pictures of their stillborns to remember their baby, particularly of their tiny feet. It is a common part of the grieving process. Baby feet are often pictured as a symbol of infancy. They’re used in all sorts of photography for loving parents even when children are born healthy. Only, Gosnell wasn’t a grieving parent. He was a doctor who relied on others’ trust to profit from murder. Serial killers often keep mementos of their victims. They like to remember their work and are proud of what they’ve done. Knowing how Gosnell documented his “procedures” tells a chilling tale, especially since he was also known to take pictures of his work in the clinic.
Kermit Gosnell Convicted
Despite claims that Kermit Gosnell killed dozens of babies born alive and endangered the lives of numerous women, he was only convicted on three counts of first-degree murder (in the case of the infants) and a single count of involuntary manslaughter for the woman who died due to his unsafe practices. During his trial, the defense tried to paint prosecutors as “racist” and “elitist” because Gosnell is a black man, but prosecutor Ed Cameron decried Gosnell’s actions, stating, “He created an assembly line with no regard for these women whatsoever.”
The prosecution also noted that $250,000 in cash was found in Gosnell’s home and that he profited from harming women and babies. Throughout the trial, Gosnell was reportedly calm and never remorseful. He was known to smile and wave at people in the courtroom. One witness to the trial noted, “He just kind of sat back, smirked a lot, when people said something negative about him, (his attitude was dismissive, like) ‘who do you think you are.'”
A “charismatic sociopath,” he was unbothered and careless about the allegations against him.
Gosnell was described as a “charismatic sociopath.” He was unbothered and careless about the allegations against him. When the verdict came in, his defense lawyer stated, “He's disappointed, and he's upset.”
Kermit Gosnell was given three life sentences at the age of 72. Both pro-choice and pro-life movements have used the case to further their arguments, but regardless of what political ideologies society faces, the fact of the matter is that Kermit Gosnell was allowed to kill babies and harm women through his barbaric practices for years without repercussion. No amount of life sentences will bring back the babies or heal the women permanently damaged by his terrifying actions.
Had Karnamaya Mongar been given the information about organizations that help women support themselves and their families – instead of being fed into the hands of a serial killer – she would most likely still be alive. If more women were taught that abortion is not the only option when facing unplanned pregnancies, and that there are plenty of organizations that work to provide financial, moral, and even adoptive support, they would truly be able to make a choice. But as abortion is touted around as “health care” and women are fed the lie that it’s their only option, many mothers are made vulnerable to murderers like Kermit Gosnell.
If we work to celebrate the beautiful truth that motherhood isn’t a burden, and that abortions aren’t just a simple procedure, then men like Kermit Gosnell wouldn’t be so easily able to abuse and murder women and their innocent babies.
Thankfully, some brand of justice was served. Gosnell is locked away where he can no longer perform his gruesome procedures and collect samples from his victims. As states pass or even consider laws that allow late-term abortions, this case needs to be remembered. It proves that when “terminating” pregnancies in the later stages, it’s not a healthcare service, it’s a murder that stops a baby from breathing and living as they would without intervention.
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