West Phila. abortion doctor charged with murder
January 20, 2011, 6:44 am · Updated January 20, 2011, 12:00 am·
A grand jury report released Wednesday on former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell detailed the specific actions he is charged with.
The report, written by Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, alleges that Gosnell illegally delivered third-trimester children in the Women’s Medical Society clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave., “and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors” in a process called “snipping.”
Although the clinic operated for almost four decades, “scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains,” the report read. “It was a baby charnel house.”
College sophomore Christopher Carroll — president of pro-choice group Penn for Choice — said his first thought after hearing of Gosnell’s accusations was that the alleged crimes were “an absolute tragedy,” and that the group’s “hearts go out to the victims of the brutality.”
The report also asserts that Gosnell endangered the lives of women seeking abortions, and charges him with the murder of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar through a drug overdose on Nov. 20, 2009.
“Not only was he killing babies, but also the right for women to have safe abortions in this country,” Carroll said.
“We in no way condone the actions of this doctor or any other doctor who may have done things like this,” he asserted, noting that women seeking abortion should look to Planned Parenthood.
“I am always proud to be pro-choice,” Carroll added. "[But] I am not proud of this doctor's actions ... I am worried that people might mistake his actions for things that we support."
College junior Teresa Hamill, co-president of pro-life group Penn for Life, said the actions show what can happen “if you remove the idea that human life is valuable.”
“It’s shocking,” she said in reference to Gosnell’s charges. “It’s hard to imagine someone could do that.”
After months of being suspected of illegally providing subscriptions, the clinic was raided Feb. 18, 2010 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives from the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. However, once “law enforcement agents went in, they couldn’t help noticing the disgusting conditions, the dazed patients, the discarded fetuses,” according to the report.
Abortions performed after 24 weeks of pregnancy in Pennsylvania are outlawed unless they are necessary to preserve maternal health. However, Gosnell is accused of providing abortions for women after that cutoff.
Hamill said the case could have bearing on debates between pro-life and pro-choice groups over the amount of protection children have in abortion clinics. She perceived a “definite push from some pro-choice people” to limit that protection.
The report acknowledged that the case would be used by both sides of the abortion debate.
But for “us as a criminal grand jury,” the report stated, “the case is not about that controversy; it is about disregard of the law and disdain for the lives and health of mothers and infants.”
This article was updated from its print version to reflect the fact that Christopher Carroll said he is "always proud to be pro-choice," rather than "not proud to be pro-choice on days like this."