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Kermit Gosnell (AP/Yong Kim, Philadelphia Daily News)

A 'filthy fraud'

Abortion | A grand jury indicts a Philadelphia abortionist for flouting the law and preying on the poor to perform gruesome late-term abortions

The pro-lifers who protested Kermit Gosnell's abortion center in Philadelphia had no idea of the horrific conditions inside: fetal remains in cat-food containers, severed baby feet in jars, blood-stained sheets, and medical instruments contaminated with venereal disease.

Gosnell has just been indicted on eight counts of murder-one count for killing a pregnant woman and seven counts for killing living, viable babies. A damning 281-page grand jury report describes Gosnell's abortion business as a "filthy fraud" and notes that public officials failed to act against him for decades, despite numerous complaints.

The grand jury report says that Gosnell's offices reeked of cat urine, were stained with blood, and held jars of fetal remains-"a baby charnel house." It says he taught his unlicensed employees to fake ultrasounds to make older babies appear younger so he could perform illegal late-term abortions. It also describes botched abortions, including one that left Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old immigrant, dead. According to the report, Gosnell used high medication dosages to induce active labor and then killed "live, viable, moving, breathing, crying babies" by cutting their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. It estimates that Gosnell made $10,000 to $15,000 a night performing abortions.

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The grand jury report also describes decades of public officials' inaction, saying outright that officials failed to act until a drug raid on the abortion center brought media attention to the unsanitary conditions inside. The Pennsylvania Department of Health stopped inspecting the center in 1993 despite numerous complaints from attorneys, a doctor, and a medical examiner. Gosnell also paid damages to five women and settled a civil suit after a woman died, but the suits did not bring investigations.

The report states, "We think the reason no one acted is because the women in question were poor and of color, because the victims were infants without identities, and because the subject was the political football of abortion."

Ironically, Pennsylvania has tougher abortion regulations than surrounding states. It requires parental consent for anyone under the age of 18 and a 24-hour waiting period-but the report states that Gosnell got his competitive edge by flouting the law. The indictment states that he violated the informed consent law 300 times and charges him with corruption of a minor for failing to get parental consent.

Denise Wilcox, Pennsylvania director for the National Right to Life Committee, said that pro-life activists have been trying for years to pass legislation that would classify abortion businesses as "ambulatory surgical centers" and require regular inspections. But so far they have had no success pushing the bill through the legislature. That may change now that Pennsylvania has a pro-life majority in both legislative chambers and a pro-life governor for the first time in eight years. A spokesman for newly inaugurated Gov. Tom Corbett vowed that the administration would do more to oversee abortion centers.

Wilcox said that Philadelphia pro-lifers routinely protested outside of the Gosnell's business but did not know that he was performing illegal late-term abortions under such horrific conditions since he did most of the abortions at night. She said that she believes the story will provide momentum for closer oversight of abortion centers: "I think the days for these horrible inner-city clinics are over. I think it also lets people know that this abortion business is not so sterile and pretty as they imagined it to be."

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