Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Philadelphia Doctor Arrested Over Murder of Patients and Botched Abortions

This story is wrong on several levels and indicates a failure of Pennsylvania medical officials and investigators to properly treat complaints about the doctor's malfeasance for years on end. If these claims are true, the doctor, Kermit Gosnell, should have been kicked out of the profession years ago before he could do any more harm to women. Prosecutors have finally indicted Gosnell on the murder of a female patient and seven babies that were born alive:
A Philadelphia abortion doctor has been charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a woman patient and seven babies that prosecutors say were born alive and then killed with scissors.

The charges against Dr. Kermit Gosnell follow a long grand jury investigation.

District Attorney Seth Williams said state regulators ignored complaints and failed to visit the clinic since 1993.

Williams said the women were subjected to squalid and barbaric conditions at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society, which was shut down last year.

Gosnell has been named in at least 10 malpractice suits, including one over the death of a woman who died of sepsis and a perforated uterus.
Pro life groups will cite this as a reason to make abortion illegal, and pro choice will cite this as a reason to keep it legal with better oversight - to prevent back room abortions that engage in unethical, illegal, or medical malpractice.

What this case seems to indicate is a state that was indifferent to complaints and that investigators/regulators did not even visit the clinic since 1993. This allowed the doctor to carry out abortions that put womens' lives at risk and carried out multiple botched abortions.

Making abortions illegal would increase the likelihood that women will visit doctors who botch abortions putting their lives in danger.


The state's culpability in this case is startling in just how they failed the patients who were butchered by this doctor. The 281 page grand jury report is ghastly in its details and catalogs the state's failures nearly as much as Gosnell's physical acts. Ultimately, this case should lead to a major shift in the way the state oversees abortionists because Gosnell was butchering his patients:
Butcher of women
Dr. Gosnell didn’t just kill babies. He was also a deadly threat to mothers. Not every abortion could be completed by inducing labor and delivery. On these occasions, Gosnell would attempt to remove the fetus himself. The consequences were often calamitous – though that didn’t stop the doctor from trying to cover them up.
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.
Each one of those instances should have raised red flags with the authorities - at the hospitals that treated these patients after Gosnell's "procedures" and by law enforcement, but no steps were taken for years on end.

Thankfully someone finally did put Gosnell's bloody trail of malfeasance to an end by shutting down his clinic.

Getting back to the state's failures, the report sets out that the state purposefully turned a blind eye to Gosnell, because of decisions made by politicians going back to 1993:
Instead, 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. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.

The only exception to this live-and-let-die policy was supposed to be for complaints dumped directly on the department’s doorstep. Those, at least, would be investigated. Except that there were complaints about Gosnell, repeatedly. Several different attorneys, representing women injured by Gosnell, contacted the department. A doctor from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hand-delivered a complaint, advising the department that numerous patients he had referred for abortions came back from Gosnell with the same venereal disease. The medical examiner of Delaware County informed the department that Gosnell had performed an illegal abortion on a 14-year-old girl carrying a 30-week-old baby. And the department received official notice that a woman named Karnamaya Mongar had died at Gosnell’s hands.

Yet not one of these alarm bells – not even Mrs. Mongar’s death – prompted the department to look at Gosnell or the Women’s Medical Society. Only after the raid occurred, and the story hit the press, did the department choose to act. Suddenly there were no administrative, legal, or policy barriers; within weeks an order was issued to close the clinic. And as this grand jury investigation widened, department officials “lawyered up,” hiring a high-priced law firm to represent them at taxpayer expense. Had they spent as much effort on inspection as they did on attorneys, none of this would have happened to begin with.

But even this total abdication by the Department of Health might not have been fatal. Another agency with authority in the health field, the Pennsylvania Department of State, could have stopped Gosnell single-handedly. While the Department of Health regulates facilities, the Department of State, through its Board of Medicine, licenses and oversees individual physicians. Like their colleagues at Health, however, Department of State officials were repeatedly confronted with evidence about Gosnell, and repeatedly chose to do nothing.

Indeed, in many ways State had more damning information than anyone else.
As this case proceeds, the revelations about Gosnell's actions and the Pennsylvania's failure to act to stop him from butchering his patients are likely to become even more scandalous and heinous.

This report is a difficult read under the best of circumstances, and reads like something straight out of a horror movie.
Plastic bags and mineral water bottles holding aborted fetuses were found stashed in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic. Jars containing the severed feet of babies lined a shelf, the Philadelphia district attorney, Seth Williams, said in a statement.

Dr. Gosnell, a family practitioner who was not certified in obstetrics, performed late-term abortions, after 24 weeks, which are illegal, and employed staff members who were not trained medical professionals, including a teenage girl, prosecutors said. Nine of his employees were also charged.

“It is very important to remember that Dr. Gosnell is presumed innocent,” a lawyer for Dr. Gosnell, William J. Brennan, said. “I would hope there is not a rush to judgment and that he has an opportunity to review this very lengthy charging document.”

In the grand jury document, prosecutors called Dr. Gosnell’s clinic “a baby charnel house,” riddled with fetal remains and reeking of cat urine, with furniture and blankets stained with blood. Medical equipment was broken and supplies were reused.

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