Arthur Miller said, “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” If that’s true, then America has no good newspapers, or broadcast news companies for that matter, because they have been completely silent on one of the most important conversations in the past year: the shocking murder trial of Kermit Gosnell.
On November 19, 2009, a 41 year-old woman received a toxic overdose of meperidine which caused cardiac arrest and subsequent anoxic encephalopathy. The woman had chosen the “custom sleep” package at the Women’s Medical Society for her late term abortion procedure which included several heavy sedatives and narcotics. This toxic dose was administered by an unlicensed, untrained individual at the command of a man named Kermit Gosnell, the facility’s owner and physician. When the Emergency Medical Service was dispatched to the location, they had significant difficulty providing care to the dying woman due to the dilapidated physical condition of the building and clinical facility. She was pulseless, and to make matter worse Gosnell and his staff would not cooperate with EMS to tell them what the woman had actually been through or what dosages of medications she received. Although medical professionals were able to restore a weak pulse, the physicians at the hospital where she was taken knew not what they were actually treating. Her unborn child already dead, it was also too late for Karnamaya Mongar who was pronounced dead at 6:15pm on November 20, 2009 after heroic attempts of resuscitation were made at the hospital.
The Women’s Medical Society and its personnel underwent lengthy investigation. The findings of that inquiry are staggeringly horrific and lead to a Grand Jury trial issuing a presentment of 39 criminal charges for Gosnell including multiple accounts of murder, infanticide, illegal abortions beyond 24 weeks gestation, conspiracy, corruption of the morality of a minor, abuse of corpses, solicitation, multiple accounts of theft by deception, racketeering, tampering with evidence, and numerous Controlled Substance Act violations. Expert medical examiner testimonies found that several deceased babies in freezers several of which had been viable and killed after birth at the hands of Gosnell and some of his staff. The Grand Jury report includes photographs of these nameless infants as well as their feet which were severed and collected in jars.
The clinic itself, which remained uninspected for 17 years, had numerous health code violations of which the state Department of Health was apparently aware and made no action to investigate. In fact, a physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hand-delivered a complaint about Gosnell; this physician had treated several patients for the same venereal disease after they had had abortion procedures at the clinic indicating unclean and contaminated equipment. Furthermore, included in the criminal charges against Gosnell are over 300 accounts of informed consent violations, meaning, the women who sought care at this clinic were physically violated and medically abused without their informed consent. These women, who were predominately of low socioeconomic status, suffered perforated uteruses, septic shock, pieces of fetal tissue left behind after surgery and death; they contracted venereal diseases, delivered babies in toilets and left there for hours, had photographs of their genitalia taken by Gosnell, and seizures during unmonitored anesthesia.
The testimony of Lynda Williams, who worked at the clinic and has pled guilty to third degree murder, revealed that she would see Gosnell ‘smack’ the legs of women if they squirmed out of fear or pain-‘smacked’ so hard that his handprint was left behind on their skin, according to Williams. If the reader is Inclined, a 281 page Grand Jury statement was released which summarizes the deplorable conditions and heinous cutting of newborn spinal cords while they were breathing. This Grand Jury report on Gosnell, his staff, and the Women’s Medical Society clinic is replete with appendices of evidence, photographs, and details of the conditions as well as the multiple layers of inadequacy of regulating entities that failed to respond to formal complaints including; Pennsylvania Department of State, Board of Medicine, and the Department of Health. During the investigation, it was discovered that Gosnell actually applied for membership in the National Abortion Federation and was rejected for membership because the evaluator assessed his clinic as “the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected.” However, the National Abortion Federation did not report their concerns; they were actually the only entity that had inspected Gosnell’s clinic in 17 years and remained perplexingly silent on the matter.
On Friday, April 12, 2013, nearly one month into the trial of Kermit Gosnell for multiple charges including 7 first degree murders and one third degree murder, a “Tweetfest” event occurred online to call the media out on their lack of reporting of this newsworthy case. The mainstream media, with its proclivity toward sensationally horrific events, seems to have almost purposely refused primetime coverage of this story, what is called a blackout in industry terms. In the past few days, ten United States representatives spoke on the issue of the media’s apparent “blackout.” America couldn’t hear enough about the O.J. Simpson trial, the Casey Anthony trial, Michael Jackson’s death, “Ted” Kaczynski….and the list continues across the decades of mass communications. Furthermore, the tragedies of public shooting rampages at the hands of disturbed youth such as Columbine and Sandy Hook receive nearly 24-hour coverage, special reports, presidential condolences, and the faces of all the victims are plastered on magazine covers for America to mourn—rightly so. But as for the Gosnell trial and his victims, there is silence.
American citizens should ask why. Why the silence? This case has all the key elements of a sensational news story for a society quite desensitized to human violence: murder, conspiracy, abuse of women, neglect of governmental oversight agencies, millions of dollars, corrupt doctors, drug abuse, etc. Feminists should be outraged. Health care professionals should be indignant. The state should be embarrassed. Social justice warriors should be rallying the troops. Lawyers should be filing malpractice. The tiny, nameless victims should be mourned. Their families should be comforted. Retribution should be served.
But instead we have silence. Why? The Grand Jury alluded to a potential answer in their report: “Bureaucratic inertia is not exactly news. We understand that. But we think this was something more. 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.” Boom.
Over the next few weeks or months, America may hear more about Gosnell ; this is a huge “maybe” depending on whether the media will capitulate to the ideal of journalistic integrity. News coverage of this story will inevitably lead to debates on access to quality health care, abortion legislation, the death penalty (which Gosnell faces if convicted), and state regulation and funding of abortion. One may hear “why weren’t abortion opponents praying outside of the Women’s Medical Society?” or “This is what all abortions will be like if abortion is criminalized.” Perhaps citizens should take a moment of introspection and look deeper; the media is guaranteed to fail in this regard, but their silence has screamed loudly enough to draw the attention of some to a massacre of innocents every bit as odious as the Sandy Hook murders. Gosnell’s victims were not beautiful, suburban clean, white, and killed by an enraged youth with an assault rifle, but rather poor, ethnic, desperate, unwanted and killed at the hands of an abortionist. The abortion issue is just too perfidious to unveil its realities. It would force our society to accept the natural consequences of a culture that glorifies violence and defines life according to convenience; the result is suffering, abuse, and death of the most vulnerable of our nation whose voices will not be heard. America will continue to sleep in the bed it has made for itself; the media will continue to only cover stories that serve a bigger sociopolitical agenda. Guns are demonized and covert infanticide virtually ignored. The Gosnell crimes are a mere microcosm of societal deficiencies the population would just rather not face; the truth is just too inconvenient.
Unbiased reporting of events allows the individual person to decide and draw his or her own conclusions. With this news out to the general public, it’s only a matter of time before we know: will the silence remain?