A social media campaign and 18 speeches on the U.S. House floor forced much of the media to cover the uncomfortable truths of the Gosnell trial, but one crucial element continues to be ignored: Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) knew about Gosnell’s “house of horrors” and did nothing to stop him.
Dayle Steinberg, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania, said Gosnell’s alleged actions were “criminal, horrendous” and should be “appropriately punished,” but she also admitted that Philadelphia’s Planned Parenthood facility received complaints about Gosnell, which prompted Planned Parenthood staff to “encourage [those complaining] to report [Gosnell] to the Department of Health.”
Worse still, the NAF, which touts itself as “the professional association of abortion providers in North America,” inspected Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society in 2009. The NAF denied the abortion center’s application for membership but “did not report Gosnell to authorities,” according to the grand jury report.
Blatantly disregarding the vulnerable brings to mind another Pennsylvania monster who was allowed to terrorize countless people for decades. Last year a jury found former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky guilty on 45 counts of sexually abusing young boys. The mere allegations—accompanied by appropriate public outrage—led to the university firing its president, athletic director, and legendary football coach.
Why? Admission of prior knowledge usually spells doom on an organization, because journalists generally press leaders on what they knew and when they knew it (think Richard Nixon and Watergate). But this time we’re dealing with Planned Parenthood, and apparently it gets a pass.
Planned Parenthood and the NAF have both acknowledged doing the same thing powerful Penn State officials did when they knew Sandusky was molesting children: pass the buck. Even if Penn State officials fulfilled the minimum legal requirement, their inaction was correctly deemed morally reprehensible. Why should Planned Parenthood and the NAF not be held to the same standard? It’s not enough to recommend women contact the state board of health when both organizations knew an abortionist was breaking the law in life-threatening ways.
Most striking is the radically different responses from Penn State and Planned Parenthood after the respective scandals became public knowledge. Penn State immediately took action against high-ranking officials, commissioned a major investigation, and then abided by the findings. Planned Parenthood? They—along with President Obama—are celebrating their work this week in Washington, D.C.
We’d like to think Penn State would have taken action regardless of public interest in the Sandusky case, but one thing is for sure: Public outrage guaranteed results. The outcry should be just as great to demand that Planned Parenthood and the NAF be held accountable for turning a blind eye to a man who allegedly killed women and beheaded countless babies.