May 13, 2013, Philadelphia: Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder, manslaughter, and a couple of hundred lesser offenses. He’s in prison for life. If he were released, he could set up shop in New Hampshire and commit with impunity some of the same actions for which he’s now imprisoned.
Gosnell snipped the necks of children who survived his attempts to abort them, one of whom he joked was big enough “to walk me to the bus stop.” Karnamaya Mongar, a woman who came to him for what she thought would be a safe and legal abortion, was sedated to death by the staff Gosnell was supposed to oversee, using protocols he had established to compensate for the staff’s lack of formal medical training.
The carnage was uncovered only accidentally, triggered by a 2010 drug raid at Gosnell’s “clinic,” which was a pill mill on top of its other charms. (Convictions on twelve drug offenses netted him another 30 years in prison.)
He got away with abusing women and children for a long time, because the one-time governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – a Republican named Tom Ridge, later entrusted with the Department of Homeland Security – ordered that abortion regulations not be enforced. They might have interfered with abortion access, and that was something Ridge wouldn’t countenance. Ridge’s policy prevailed for an appalling length of time.
Karnamaya Mongar isn’t around to offer her thoughts on Ridge’s defense of her rights.
New Hampshire differs from Pennsylvania in that we don’t have unenforced abortion regulations as far as we know; instead we have next-to-no regulations.
Infanticide: Since the Gosnell trial, New Hampshire legislators have considered three bills that would have required that children surviving attempted abortion be provided with the same level of care that would be given to a child born at the same stage of fetal development without any abortion attempt. Two of those bills were killed, and the third was tabled and never revived. I reported on each one: HB 1627, 2016; HB 578, 2017; HB 1680, 2018.
I attended the hearings and executive sessions on those bills. Opponents complained that such measures would tell doctors how to practice medicine and would cause undue distress to women seeking abortion due to fetal anomalies. Rep. Paul Berch’s remark on HB 1627 was instructive: “This bill seeks to address a problem that appears not to exist in New Hampshire.”
Well, since there is no evidence that New Hampshire public health authorities publish data on the incidence of live births following induced abortion, it’s easy to say a problem “appears not to exist.”
In 2013, Pennsylvania jurors recoiled at Gosnell’s horrific execution of the children who survived his attempt to abort them. Six years later, in our New Hampshire, I doubt there’s a prosecutor who would consider Gosnell’s spine-snipping worth prosecuting. Here, a woman seeking abortion is entitled not only to a terminated pregnancy but a dead child. New Hampshire legislators have passed up several chances to establish a different policy.
Mid- and late-term abortions: Among the crimes of which Gosnell was convicted were more than 200 violations of the Pennsylvania law restricting abortions to a maximum of 24 weeks’ gestation. No such restriction in New Hampshire, then or now.
Type of facility: The Gosnell grand jury sharply criticized the refusal of Pennsylvania authorities to subject Gosnell’s clinic to the same inspection and licensing requirements as ambulatory surgical facilities, as Pennsylvania law required. No such law in New Hampshire, then or now.
Personnel performing abortions: Gosnell employed people who were untrained and unlicensed to “care” for the women who came to him for abortion. In New Hampshire, there are no restrictions whatsoever on who may perform abortions. No medical training is required, and no particular kind of facility is required.
I’ve heard doctors who should know better argue that abortion in New Hampshire is self-policing, and that any incompetent abortion provider would be dealt with by the appropriate certifying board. Assuming that’s true – and I think it’s a generous assumption – what if the abortion provider isn’t subject to a certifying board? Who’s watching out for women then?
So the next Gosnells could come to New Hampshire and do late-term abortions, dispose of the “products of conception” (born-alive or not) as they saw fit, and put women at risk by employing unlicensed and untrained personnel (and indeed forgo a medical license themselves) – all without breaking any current state law.
Watch out for the drug laws, though. They are what finally tripped up Gosnell in Pennsylvania.
That’s what I mean by New Hampshire being Gosnell-friendly. It gives me no pleasure to say that.
The day of Gosnell’s conviction, Planned Parenthood sent out a fundraising email calling abortion regulations “extreme” and “outrageous.” Again, Karnamaya Mongar couldn’t be reached for comment.
And Gosnell himself? “I very strongly believe myself to be innocent of the heinous crimes of which I am accused.” (See interview in the book Gosnell by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer.)
I hope Gosnell’s victims rest in peace. I hope he undergoes a change of heart. And I hope our beloved state learns from his crimes and their aftermath. It’s not too late.
If the Gosnell case is new to you, go to YouTube and find “3801 Lancaster: An American Tragedy,” or pick up the Gosnell book, or watch the film Gosnell. I also recommend the grand jury report on the case (PDF here; also available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99).