Debunking the Myth that Gosnell was an “outlier”

By Dave Andrusko

Kristen Powers

Kristen Powers

It would be difficult to overstate the impact of Kristen Powers’ April 11 column bemoaning the absence of coverage of the Kermit Gosnell murder trial. This is not to say that once “We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One” ran in USA Today there was a collective mad rush to Philadelphia.

But Powers did get the ball rolling that the rest of us had found immovable. Suddenly it was semi-obligatory to at least explain why your outlet ignored the trial or parachute in a reporter for a few days coverage.

(Her column can be read here. Our take on what she wrote can be perused here.)

Powers returned to the scene of the crime, so to speak, yesterday in a follow up column, “Gosnell’s abortion atrocities no ‘aberration‘”  in USA Today.

Powers begins with the devastating account of 20-year-old Desiree Hawkins who had an abortion at Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic in 2009. Contacted by authorities this year, she was told that “one of the severed feet found in jars at the clinic belonged to her aborted baby,” Powers wrote.

In preparing to testify Hawkins discovered from reading her file that she was further along when she aborted than she thought. (Hawkins was to be called as rebuttal witness to Gosnell, but Gosnell chose not to testify in his own defense.) She also told Powers of being humiliated by Gosnell’s staff.

As we start to absorb the “lessons” of the Gosnell murder trial, the one given we can count on is that the Abortion Industry will never budge from its talking point: Gosnell was a “renegade,” an “outlier” not in the least bit representative of the industry. Thus no need whatsoever for abortion clinic regulations. They can self-regulate.

Indeed, requiring minimal standards will drive women into the hands of people like Gosnell, we’re told. Nice trick, if no one bothers to think it through

Unfortunately for them, Powers has. She asks the question that virtually never gets attention:

“But how could they possibly know that this is an aberration?

Much of the remainder of the column demonstrates that Gosnell has lots of company—maybe not in the specifics, but certainly in putting women’s health seriously at risk. For example

“Last week, Ohio officials shut down an abortion clinic after inspectors found that a medical assistant administered narcotics to five patients, that narcotics and powerful sedatives weren’t properly accounted for, that pharmacy licenses had expired and that four staff members hadn’t been screened for a communicable disease.

“This month, a Delaware TV station reported that two Planned Parenthood nurses resigned in protest over conditions at a clinic there. One nurse, Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, said, ‘It was just unsafe. I couldn’t tell you how ridiculously unsafe it was.’

“Last month, Maryland officials shut down three abortion clinics, two for failings in their equipment and training to deal with life-threatening complications.

“Last year, an Associated Press investigation found that Illinois hadn’t inspected some abortion clinics for 10 to 15 years. After state health officials reinvigorated their clinic inspections in the wake of Gosnell, inspectors closed two clinics, including one fined for ‘failure to perform CPR on a patient who died after a procedure’ according to AP.”

Powers could have gone on and on with examples outside of Pennsylvania, but chose to end with abuses in Gosnell’s backyard. She cites examples NRL News Today has written about many times.

That begins with the failure of a representative from the National Abortion Federation to notify authorities when she found Gosnell’s clinic “beyond redemption,” and therefore ineligible to be a NAF member.

Lesser known is the handiwork of Dayle Steinberg. Powers writes

“Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood representative Dayle Steinberg has admitted that its officials knew the clinic was unsafe after women complained. What did they do? “We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health.”

But Powers saved the most powerful witness for last. We have written about Pennsylvania State Rep. Margo Davidson many times. She was the only member of the Democratic black caucus to vote in favor of a bill to strengthen abortion clinic regulations.

She told Powers that (in Powers’ words) “the choice community knew what was going on and did nothing.” Powers ends her important commentary with this.

“Davidson concluded that for the choice community, ‘the institution was more important than the individual lives.’ Davidson knows firsthand what can happen when people choose to look the other way: Her 22-year-old cousin died after an abortion at Gosnell’s clinic.”