By Dave Andrusko
The jury of seven women and five men has, as of this writing, not reached a verdict in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. We continue with our excerpts from the opening section of the Grand Jury’s report on Gosnell. It is invaluable in understanding how Gosnell could possibly have stayed in business decade after decade.
NAF [National Abortion Federation] is an association of abortion providers that upholds the strictest health and legal standards for its members. Gosnell, bizarrely, applied for admission shortly after Karnamaya Mongar’s death. Despite his various efforts to fool her, the evaluator from NAF readily noted that records were not properly kept, that risks were not explained, that patients were not monitored, that equipment was not available, that anesthesia was misused. It was the worst abortion clinic she had ever inspected. Of course, she rejected Gosnell’s application. She just never told anyone in authority about all the horrible, dangerous things she had seen
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.
Obviously, Kermit Gosnell is the man with the clearest criminal culpability for what happened here. But many of the people who worked for the Women’s Medical Society should also be charged with criminal offenses; and many of the people who worked for the public, while not criminally liable, should be called out.
We group the criminal charges into three categories: charges arising from the baby murders and illegal abortions; charges in connection with the death of Karnamaya Mongar; and charges stemming generally from the ongoing operation of a criminal enterprise.
We were able to document seven specific incidents in which Gosnell or one of his employees severed the spine of a viable baby born alive. We charge Gosnell, Lynda Williams, Adrienne Moton, and Steven Massof with murder in the first degree. Along with Sherry West, they are also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in relation to the hundreds of unidentifiable instances in which they planned to, and no doubt did, carry out similar killings. We also charge Gosnell with various violations of the Abortion Control Act, including infanticide and performing illegal late-term abortions. Charged as co-conspirators with him in this regard are Williams, West, and Pearl Gosnell, his wife.
Two employees were Gosnell’s accomplices in the administration of the drugs that killed Karnamaya Mongar. We charge Gosnell, Lynda Williams, and Sherry West with third-degree murder, drug delivery resulting in death, violations of the controlled substance act and conspiracy. Gosnell, West, and Elizabeth Hampton are charged with hindering apprehension (and Hampton also with perjury) for lying to the police, to the hospital, and to us about how this woman died.
Illegality was so integral to the operation of the Women’s Medical Society that the business itself was a corrupt organization. We charge Gosnell, Lynda Williams, Sherry West, Adrienne Moton, Maddline Joe, Tina Baldwin, Pearl Gosnell, Steven Massof, and Eileen O’Neill with running that organization or conspiring to do so. We charge Massof and O’Neill, in conspiracy with Gosnell, with theft by deception for pretending to be doctors, and billing for their services as if they were licensed physicians.
Gosnell should also be charged with obstruction and tampering for altering his patient files to hide illegality, and for destroying or removing other files entirely. As a final note, we charge Gosnell and Tina Baldwin, his employee, with corrupting the morals of a minor. Gosnell hired Tina’s 15-year-old daughter as a staff member. She was required to work 50-hour weeks, starting after school until past midnight, during which she was exposed to the full horrors of Gosnell’s practice. Bad enough that he expected grown-ups to do it.
That leaves the government employees whose job was to make sure that things like this don’t happen. Worth special mention is Janice Staloski of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, who personally participated in the 1992 site visit, but decided to let Gosnell slide on the violations that were already evident then. She eventually rose to become director of the division that was supposed to regulate abortion providers, but never looked at Gosnell despite specific complaints from lawyers, a doctor, and a medical examiner. After she was nonetheless promoted, her successor as division director, Cynthia Boyne, failed to order an investigation of the clinic even when Karnamaya Mongar died there.
Senior legal counsel Kenneth Brody insisted that the department had no legal obligation to monitor abortion clinics, even though it exercised such a duty until the Ridge administration, and exercised it again as soon as Gosnell became big news. The agency’s head lawyer, chief counsel Christine Dutton, defended the department’s indifference: “People die,” she said.
Lawyers at the Pennsylvania Department of State behaved in the same fashion. Attorneys Mark Greenwald, Charles Hartwell, David Grubb, Andrew Kramer, William Newport, Juan Ruiz, and Kerry Maloney were confronted with a growing pile of disquieting facts about Gosnell, including a detailed, inside account from a former employee, and a 22-year-old dead woman. Every time, though, they managed to dismiss the evidence as immaterial. Every time, that is, until the facts hit the fan.
We want better from our public servants. We trust that their actions will be reviewed, and that they will be held accountable.
Next time: “What to do.”
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