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Editorial: Lessons of the Kermit Gosnell murder case

Limiting access to abortion does not stop the procedures from happening — that’s the takeaway from the Kermit Gosnell trial. For more than 15 years, Gosnell operated a cash-only, squalid West Philadelphia practice that specialized in late-term abortions for desperate, uninsured women.

This week, Gosnell was found guilty of murdering three infants who survived abortions he performed as well as 24 counts of terminating a pregnancy after the 24-week gestational limit imposed by Pennsylvania and involuntary manslaughter. He is going to prison for the rest of his life.

But it’s clear if women had better options, they wouldn’t have risked — and in some cases lost — their lives in Gosnell’s greedy hands. His staff said as much during the trial.

Gosnell had once performed mostly first-trimester abortions, his staff testified, but that changed as first-trimester patients found better options than his chaotic, dirty clinic, and second-trimester patients increasingly had fewer options, according to the New York Times. Gosnell came to rely on untrained staff, unsterile equipment and unorthodox abortion methods that included women delivering babies that were then “snipped” with scissors after they were born alive, the paper reported.

If Kamamaya Mongar had any other option, it is unlikely she would have trusted Gosnell. In 2009 and at 15-weeks pregnant, the Bhutanese refugee was searching for an abortion provider close to her home in Virginia. She went to three clinics before she found Gosnell. She was 41 years old when Gosnell administered to her a fatal drug overdose during the abortion procedure.

Women face many barriers when it comes to controlling what happens in their wombs, including a shortage of trained abortion providers, state laws that make getting an abortion more complicated, Medicaid restrictions and fewer hospitals providing abortion services, according to the National Abortion Federation. About 87 percent of counties in the U.S. have no identifiable abortion provider, the federation reports.

Yet about 18 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion, according to 2009 data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 784,507 legal abortions were performed that year.

In the 1950s and ’60s, when abortions were illegal in the U.S., the Guttmacher Institute estimates the number of illegal abortions ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year. One analysis concluded that an estimated 829,000 illegal or self-induced abortions occurred in 1967 alone.

Back-alley abortions, like the ones women were forced to endure before legal abortion, much like the ones Gosnell performed, hurt women.

Mildred Hanson has seen this first hand. Hanson has provided abortions for 30 years and was a young doctor in the ’60s. She lent her voice to Physicians for Reproductive Health, an online pro-choice project, to remind people of the painful aftermath of illegal abortion.

“We saw women who ... went to illegal abortionists,” Hanson wrote in an essay for the site. “They bled to death. They died of infection, or they did self-mutilation procedures in an attempt to end the pregnancy: coat hangers in the uterus, slippery elm in the uterus, potassium permanganate in their vagina — anything they could think of. These women were left as reproductive cripples: Many of them needed hysterectomies, many of them were left with pelvic abscesses, left with infertility, so that at a time in their life when they wanted children, they were unable to have those children.”

Limiting access to abortion doesn’t change the demand and need for the procedure, it pushes it underground into stinking lairs like the one Gosnell ran.

There are some people who say Gosnell is an example of the larger abortion industry. As New Jersey U.S. Rep. Chris Smith put it, “abortionists may have cleaner sheets than Gosnell, and better sterilized equipment and better trained accomplices, but what they do — what Gosnell did — kill babies and hurt women — is the same.”

Smith’s comparison of Gosnell to legal abortion providers ignores the entirety of the trial, which established Gosnell’s practices were illegal and dangerous.

What abortion providers do is legal, necessary and safe.

Reducing access to abortion treats women as second-class citizens incapable of deciding whether to have a child at age 45 or age 15, carry a rapist’s baby, or add another child to a family living paycheck to paycheck.

Legacy Comments3

I have to say that of ALL the spins I saw coming out of this paper, I never saw this one. This editorial states "... unorthodox abortion methods that included women delivering babies that were then “snipped” with scissors after they were born alive, the paper reported." "Unorthodox?" Really is common in late term abortions that the baby is induced and the then "doctor" then jams scissors into the back of the baby's head, near where the head meets the neck, and cuts the spinal column. This practice is also commonly referred to as "partial birth abortion." In 2007 Time magazine ran a story stating that there were an estimated 5,000 such abortions in 2007, given that the Bergen Record reported that 1,500 late term (partial birth) abortions are performed annually in a single New Jersey clinic ("The Abortion Ruling: An Isolated Win?" Time, April 20, 2007). Using scissors to sever a spinal column of an infant is FAR FAR from the polite and petite "snipped" comment in the editorial. This editorial sounds like this entire problem is society's fault. That if we just allowed women to do away with their "problem" any way they want, any time they want, and the tax payer picks up the tab, that none of this would have happened. Now we have yet another abortion doctor, this time in Texas, accused of "twisting baby's heads right off their bodies," among other "abortion procedures," according to news reports. Is The Daily Hampshire Gazette going to blame this on society too?

Read below to see what the editorial board of the Gazette thinks is OK as long as its done in a reputable hospital instead of the mass murderer Gosnells clinic. Here is recent congressional testimony from a former abortion industry doctor about the actual mechanics of 2nd term abortions that the Gazette would approve. Testimony was in relation to the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R.1797) which the progressive/marxists at the Gazette would undoubtably oppose. "If you could see her baby, which is quite easy on an ultrasound, she would be as long as your hand plus a half from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump not counting the legs. Your patient has been feeling her baby kick for the last 2 months or more but now she is asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy. The first task is remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter.Picture yourself introducing this catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid that looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This is the amniotic fluid that surrounded the baby to protect her. With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the end are located jaws about 2 ½ inches long and about ¾ of an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go. A second trimester D&E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can. At twenty-four weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard–really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs. The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush d own on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you. Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second trimester Suction D&E abortion. You just affirmed her right to choose."

Not quite - in the end, the takaway point from the Gosnell murder trial is that late term abortion is a barbaric act that by definition entails eviscerating the tissue of a living creature. Its a helpless baby waiting to be born - not a choice. Thats what you guys don't get. And now we have in the news another similar case in Houston. It would be nice if the gazette would cover it in detail. But becasue late term abortion can't be anythiing but repugnant to any reasonable person getting out the details of this grizly act wouldn't move forward the progressive agenda of the gazette's editors. And couldn't you point out in your editorial that the guttmacher institute has always been very pro abortion and is part of Planned Parenthoon - the largest abortion provider in the US? Start acting like progressional new people please. It used to be unbiased reporting would say something like 'alan guttmacher institute, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, reports that XXXXX illegal abortions were performed in the country in 1950... Instead you make it sound like they are not using their statistics to further their pro abotion agenda.

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