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Documentary on Gosnell’s abortion clinic low-key but overwhelmingly powerful

by | Jan 21, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Page1re-216x300I ordinarily tend to reach conclusions reluctantly but that hesitancy is less often the case when two diametrically opposed arguments tussle for supremacy. Comparing and contrasting really does bring clarity, as least for me.

Granted, I already had an entrenched opinion about Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, but that sureness took on new meaning and new depth when, in the space of two days, I read an apology for the abortion industry on the blog of the Philadelphia Weekly and then watched an absolutely remarkable new documentary, “3801 Lancaster” (the address of Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic).

The argument (such as it is) of the Philadelphia Weekly blog item is contained in the headline: “Virginia: the Latest State to Exploit Philadelphia’s Gosnell Abortion Tragedy.” What is it, how is it that pro-lifers in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere are “exploiting”?

Gosnell is charged with eight counts of murder: first degree murder in the cases of seven “late-term” babies he is said to have deliberately aborted alive and then severed their spinal cords with surgical scissors; and third-degree murder in the case of 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died from a drug overdose reportedly prescribed by Gosnell. He is scheduled to go on trial in March.

How exactly is addressing such issues as building standards, staff training, sanitation, equipment standards, and/or requiring regular visits textbook cases of exploitation? Well, here’s what Pennsylvania State Rep. Michelle Brownlee said to Philadelphia Weekly. (Gosnell’s abortion clinic is in her district.)

It’s “pretty much,” she explains, “what I said on the floor of the House in Pennsylvania”:

“Kermit Gosnell was an [alleged] sociopathic murderer. This issue should have nothing whatsoever to do with abortion control or regulations. This is murder, pure and simple. And pro-life proponents have used this to enforce stricter regulations to stop a woman’s right of choice.”

The logic is that because Gosnell is an outlier, so to speak, someone whose behavior is revolting to every sentient human being on the planet, it is “exploiting” his alleged barbarism for states to require abortion clinics to meet minimal standards. We are to supposed to be persuaded that because his behavior was so off-the-scale, it is “wrong” to use that as a way of bringing attention to, as it were, lesser evils, such as the undeniable fact that in many places abortion clinics are completely unregulated.

And it’s even more unfair [from the pro-abortionist’s vantage] to focus on the situation in places like Pennsylvania where (as a withering report from a special Grand Jury angrily explained) laws were on the books but ignored for decades!  It annoys them to no end that the publicity surrounding Gosnell would “grease the passage of new abortion-clinic regulations,” as the Philadelphia Weekly put it

There is something deeply embedded in the pro-abortion advocate’s psyche which makes it mandatory that they see the speck in the pro-lifer’s eye but be blind to the log—or, in this case, surgical scissors—in the abortionist’s.

Which brings us to the online video documentary “3801 Lancaster” (found at The video is 21 minutes and 11 seconds long. Talk about an introduction!

The first shot is of Katie Couric, not exactly one of us, shown seated at the anchor’s desk. She cautions her audience, “Now this next story comes with a strong word of caution. The details are gruesome. You won’t want young children to watch.”

And that illustrates the genius of the documentary. There are sections where pro-lifers are shown denouncing Gosnell. However, except for this and the stories told by two women who Gosnell aborted, the bulk of the video is comprised of clips like this, the on-camera testimony of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams and Assistant District Attorney Ann Ponterio before a state Senate committee, an interview with a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, and quotes from the Grand Jury report which led directly to the indictment of Gosnell, his wife, and many ill-trained members of his staff.

The makers of the documentary could have shown a collage of gruesome photos. There certainly were tons to choose from. Instead they showed only a handful to illustrate two truths about what Williams aptly described as Gosnell’s “House of Horrors.”

First, Gosnell “specialized,” as the Grand Jury emphasized, “in patients who were well beyond 24 weeks.” He induced labor and delivered intact babies.

According to the report, “Thus, the birth of live, viable babies was a natural and predictable consequence.”

Second, “The subsequent slitting of spinal cords, without any consideration for the babies’ viability, was an integral part of what Gosnell’s employees called his ‘standard procedure.’”

There is only one shot taken of the back of a baby’s neck. You see a gaping hole.

As you watch Williams testify to the state Senate committee, there is an air of irritation and indignation about him. But as he outlines the horrors they fond at Gosnell’s clinic, he is completely under control. But seated to his right is Ponterio, who much of the time looks as if she is going to either scream or have to leave the room.

For a second, I thought to myself she might be harboring anger that the truth about Gosnell was coming out. Did I get that wrong.

“There was one baby that when it was born one of the workers was playing with it for several minutes before the worker did exactly what Dr. Gosnell did–snip the back of the neck,” Ponterio tells the committee.

“And when we use the word ‘snip,’ it is a scissors taking a bony part of a vertebra and cutting it. This is a very, very painful thing.”

“Some of these babies, Ponterio says in the final portion of the clip, “did not die immediately. And they described their bodies as twitching and lifeless.”

I will be writing more about “3801 Lancaster,” but it would be very unfair if I did not even briefly discuss the two women the documentary interviews who had abortions at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic.

You sit transfixed as they describe the assembly-line mentality and the filthy, shabby conditions the women find themselves in. One woman described seeing “some women that looked half-dead in bloody recliner chairs, blood all over the floor.”

When they put the IV in her arm she decided she couldn’t go through with the abortion. “I can’t do it.”

“Stop being a little baby,” she’s told, and “now I’m outnumbered cause  all these women came in,” she explains. “I’m like tied to the bed. Next thing I know I was out of it.”

More next week. Take 21 minutes and 11 seconds out of your life and go to See the real face of “safe, legal abortion.”

Categories: Gosnell