Gosnell pleads not guilty to drug charges
The West Philly abortion doctor was charged last month for prescribing illegal drugs
January 24, 2012, 10:35 pm·
Former West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell pleaded not guilty of drug charges Monday. Gosnell was one of the top three Oxycontin prescribers in the state, according to a grand jury report.
Federal drug charges were brought against Gosnell last month when federal authorities charged him for using his clinic as an illegal prescription mill.
In a brief hearing, the judge decided to allow authorities to keep him in custody.
Others involved in the Gosnell case have pleaded guilty. Professor of law at Drexel University and former lecturer at Penn David Cohen said that “when someone pleas guilty to charges it’s because the prosecutor has offered them an agreement of some sort.”
He added that without knowing Gosnell’s lawyer’s strategy he cannot reasonably speculate why he has chosen to plead not guilty. “There are a lot of different strategic reasons people plea not guilty,” he said.
Gosnell, 70, is being accused of illegally selling pain medications — such as Oxycodone and a generic version of the drug Xanax — from 2008 to January 2010 to anyone who was willing to pay cash for these substances.
Unauthorized and unskilled staff members wrote prescriptions for these drugs on prescription pads that were pre-signed by Gosnell, according to the grand jury report.
According to testimony compiled by the grand jury, Gosnell would come to clinic between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. to perform abortions. He would also allegedly come on Sundays when the clinic was officially closed to perform illegal late-term abortions with his wife.
Gosnell is also being charged with eight counts of murder — seven for infants and one for a woman, Karnamaya Mongar, who died in his clinic of a drug overdose during an abortion procedure performed by one of his unlicensed employees.
The seven infants were allegedly killed after birth by a process Gosnell referred to as “snipping” — cutting their spinal cords with scissors. Authorities suspect he has killed hundreds of babies in this manner over the course of his career.
In response to the findings in Gosnell’s clinic during the 2010 raid, Pennsylvania state legislature passed a bill last year that will hold abortion clinics to stricter regulations. Opponents of the law believe it will force many current abortion clinics to close due to the costs of meeting the new regulations.
Cohen, who specializes in abortion and feminist law, said that if what the city claims to be true about Gosnell’s clinic is true, the findings are “absolutely horrible” but believes that the state has “overreacted” in its legislative reaction. He finds the new regulations to be “completely unnecessary…[because] there is no [abortion] clinic in the state that is anything like Gosnell’s.”
Cohen believes this new law will “severely limit women’s options.”
A recently introduced state bill — the Women’s Right To Know Act — will require women to view their ultrasound before receiving an abortion.
Cohen added that “one of the biggest problems we have in this country is that Medicaid does not pay for abortion” so poor women are often forced to turn to doctors like Gosnell who offer cheaper abortion services despite the risks they may knowingly or unknowingly face.