Daily Dispatches
Gosnell's Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia.
Associated Press/Photo by Matt Rourke
Gosnell's Women's Medical Society in West Philadelphia.

The story behind the feet in the jar

Gosnell Trial

Jurors who spent their first day deliberating the fate of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell have plenty of horrific and heart-wrenching testimony to sift through. Witnesses told story after story of aborted babies brutally killed after taking their first breath. 

But the men and women who will decide whether to convict Gosnell of murder didn’t hear every story behind each baby who died in the facility described by prosecutors as a “house of horrors.” 

One woman who didn’t get to tell her story in court wants people to know it really was as bad as all the other witnesses said it was. All of that, and more, 20-year-old Desiree Hawkins told USA Today.

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The Gosnell employee performing her abortion laughed at the then 16-year-old while she cried and begged him to stop because of the pain, Hawkins told the magazine. “Stop being a baby,” he told her.

Hawkins was forced to relive the real-life nightmare of her abortion when a Drug Enforcement Administration agent contacted her earlier this year. One of the severed feet found in jars at Gosnell’s center belonged to her aborted baby, the agent told her. 

Determined to put an end to the horror she remembers so vividly, Hawkins agreed to testify as a rebuttal witness against Gosnell. Because the abortionist chose not to take the stand, prosecutors didn’t call Hawkins. But she still wanted her story known.

"If I talk, maybe people will make sure it won't happen again,” Hawkins said.

The first abortion center the teen visited told her she was 19 weeks pregnant—which she later discovered to be a lie. Go to Gosnell, they said.

Hawkins was heartbroken when she read through her file in preparation to testify. She was actually 21 weeks at the time, which meant she was 23 weeks when Gosnell took her baby’s life.

"I was so overwhelmed and hurt," Hawkins told USA Today. "If I had known I was 23 weeks, I would have (chosen) adoption."

Her feelings of betrayal grew when she read the grand jury report. In it, countless government officials admitted to ignoring repeated complaints about the facility and the abortionist because they didn’t want to restrict access to abortion.

According to the report, the National Abortion Federation refused to certify Gosnell after inspecting his center, but didn’t tell anyone. Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood representative Dayle Steinberg admitted such.

He said state officials knew the abortion facility was unsafe—they’d received several complaints—but they never took action. “We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health.”

Whitney Williams
Whitney Williams

Whitney happily serves WORLD as web editorial assistant. When she's not working from her home office in Texas, she's probably fishing or hunting with her husband.

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