On January 14, just eight days before the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, a Philadelphia grand jury issued a 261-page report on the horrifying career of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortionist whose West Philadelphia “Women’s Medical Society” it described as a “baby charnel house.” For decades, Gosnell ran a squalid abortion clinic, violating every conceivable norm of law and medicine by anyone’s standards, from the merely bad (almost nonexistent record-keeping and unlicensed clinic staff), to the truly appalling (employing unsanitary equipment and horribly injuring many of the women who came to him). Two women died in Gosnell’s “care,” and he and two of his staff are charged with third-degree murder in the death of one of them, Karnamaya Mongar.
Over the years, Gosnell specialized more and more in late-term abortions, and his preferred method in cases of the most advanced pregnancies was to induce labor in the women who came to him. What resulted in hundreds of cases was a live birth. And thus the issue that has garnered the most attention to the Gosnell case: The doctor is charged with murdering seven babies born alive in his clinic, whom he, or one of his staff under his direction, killed in the first minutes of their post-natal lives by “snipping” their spinal cords (that was the doctor’s own word for it) with scissors at the neck. The grand jury is morally certain there were many hundreds of “snipping” victims, but these seven are the only ones of whose deaths there is solid evidence today.