It started with repeated complaints to state officials about the conditions of the clinic, 46 lawsuits against Gosnell and five inspections since his abortion clinic opened in 1979.
Next came the raid. FBI agents went in looking for evidence of prescription drug dealing. What they found was the “deplorable and unsanitary” conditions of the clinic — including bloodstained blankets and furniture, the heavy stench of urine and scattered feces left by roaming cats. Bags, jars and bottles containing aborted fetuses were seen scattered throughout the building. The clinic was shut down and Gosnell’s medical license was suspended.
The 300-page grand jury report shocked the nation. Gosnell had performed hundreds of “snippings,” in which live babies were born and then killed. Said the grand jury: “Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered. … The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that ‘snipping.'” Patients were infected with sexually transmitted diseases from contaminated instruments, some suffered from botched procedures others had been given overdoses of dangerous drugs. The grand jury report called the clinic a “baby charnel house,” prosecutors called it a “house of horrors.”
The grand jury estimated that Gosnell’s abortion practice raked in about $1.8 million a year, mostly in cash. That sum did not include the additional income he received from writing illegal prescriptions.
The grand jury report led to the indictment: A two hundred-count indictment charged Gosnell with first-degree murder for the homicide of seven babies. He was also charged in the 2009 death of a Nepalese refugee who overdosed on sedatives while she waited for her procedure.
And finally the trial: Witness after witness blasted the doctor telling tales of unlicensed, untrained workers performing procedures. One witness told the jury about seeing at least five aborted babies moving, breathing, and, in one case, “screeching” after late-term procedures.
The defense maintained that none of the babies were born alive and suggested that the woman who died had undisclosed respiratory problems that could have caused the fatal complications. Gosnell’s defense team did not call witnesses and Gosnell did take the stand in his own defense.
The abortion doctor was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder and negotiated for life without parole in exchange for not filing appeals in his case. Prison is where the 72- year old doctor will spend the rest of his life.
After two months of testimony and ten days of deliberations, what did the jury make of all of this?
The New York Times:
The foreman, David Misko, said it had been emotionally hard for the jurors, seven women and five men, to deal with the trial’s gruesome images and searing testimony.
“It was emotionally tolling for everyone involved,” he said.
Asked what had led the jury to convict Dr. Gosnell on three counts of first-degree murder, Mr. Misko said: “Premeditation. It was business as usual. He snipped the necks no matter what.”
Mr. Misko, 27, who works for a health care company, said he had been offended by Dr. Gosnell’s expression during the trial. “He just sat there smirking,” Mr. Misko said. “It wasn’t good. I didn’t care for it.”
Sarah Glinski, one of three jurors who appeared before the news media after the trial, said she believed that Dr. Gosnell had started his clinic with good intentions of helping women who had little ability to afford abortions, but that he had gone wrong along the way.
“He is an abortion doctor who tried to give people who may not have had the money the services they needed,” said Ms. Glinski, a public affairs officer with the Defense Department. “I think somewhere, something went wrong in his mind that made him do these things to these children that were born alive.”
Ms. Glinski, 23, said she believed in a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion, but added, “That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the sanctity of life.” She does not have children, which she said had made it easier to take a detached view of the evidence, but she concluded that the acts Dr. Gosnell were convicted of were “evil.”
“It was hard for me to admit that this kind of evil exists in this world,” she said.
Another juror, Joseph Carroll, 46, said he might need to seek counseling after hearing all the evidence and seeing disturbing images of aborted fetuses and of the squalid conditions and grisly items in Dr. Gosnell’s clinic, including jars of fetuses’ feet, discovered by law enforcement officers during a drug raid in 2010.
Comments from the district attorney, R. Seth Williams, were scathing. “I will not mince my words: Kermit Gosnell is a monster. Any doctor who cuts into the necks, severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is a murderer and a monster.”
The final word from the defense:
Gosnell’s lawyer, reiterated his defense that his client had snipped the necks only of fetuses that were already dead. “He believes he never killed a live baby,” Mr. McMahon told reporters. “The jury has made its decision on what happened here. We respect it, but that doesn’t mean it’s the truth.”
Even after conviction and sentencing, no admission, no apology, no remorse.
(Source: The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Newser, Philly.com)
- WATCH LIVE: Gosnell Jurors to Speak About Case (nbcphiladelphia.com)
- Abortion doctor gets third life sentence (readingeagle.com)
- Philly abortion doctor gets third life term (pottsmerc.com)
- Gosnell juror: ‘Something went wrong in his mind’ (philly.com)