Exclusive: Kermit Gosnell Says He Is “Spiritually Innocent”–and Sends Abortion-Inspired Poetry from Prison

Talking publicly for the first time since his trial and conviction on three counts of murder, one count of involuntary manslaughter and more than 200 counts of violating Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act, Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell insists he is “spiritually innocent.”

Speaking exclusively to Philadelphia magazine writer Steve Volk for a new magazine article and e-book, Gosnell—who was convicted in May of snipping the necks of babies born alive during abortion procedures in his West Philadelphia clinic—believes he was serving the best interests of his community and the women who came to him. “In an ideal world,” he said, “we’d have no need for abortion. But bringing a child into the world when it cannot be provided for, that there are not sufficient systems to support, is a greater sin. I considered myself to be in a war against poverty, and I feel comfortable with the things I did and the decisions I made.”
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Pro-Life Groups Protest, Want to Bury “Gosnell Babies”

NewsBusters, a right-wing site, reports on efforts to pressure the Philadelphia Medical Examiners Office to release dead fetuses seized from Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic.  The office is reportedly withholding the bodies from third parties, but pro-life groups want to provide a formal burial.

On Friday, July 19, several pro-life leaders demanded justice and burial for the bodies of 45 babies found in convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion clinic. They organized a prayer vigil outside the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office, and promised to risk arrest when the office barred its doors to their inquiries.

The speakers, including Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, Students for Life’s Kristan Hawkins, Christian Defense Coalition’s Rev. Patrick Mahoney, Stand True Ministries’ Bryan Kemper, and Alliance Defending Freedom’s Catherine Foster, endured the sweltering heat to deliver a letter requesting information about the remains. The Medical Examiner’s Office, which agreed to meet with them just hours before, locked its doors and called the police as they approached.

Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, stressed to the MRC that the Medical Examiner’s Office responded twice when he previously requested the babies’ remains. While the office first considered his appeal, it later decided to withhold the bodies from all third parties – without explanation.

“Meanwhile,” said Pavone, “we’re doing two things: we’re asking ‘Why not?’ and, ‘What do you intend to do with these bodies?’ The public has the right to know where these bodies are, what’s going to be done with them.”

Now, the groups say, they are planning a “national call” for pro-life allies to come to Philadelphia and pray outside the examiner’s office, invoking “civil rights imagery.” No information on when such a protest might materialize.


Kermit Gosnell to Plea Again in Ongoing Pill Mill Case

Dr. Kermit Gosnell is expected to enter a second change in plea in his federal pill mill case, in which he is accused of illegally selling prescription pills out of his West Philly practice, the Women’s Medical Society. Between July 2009 and February 2010, when the DEA and FBI raided Dr. Gosnell’s building, he is believed to have charged $10 to $20 for prescriptions for drugs like oxycodone, codeine syrup, and alprazolam.  Sales allegedly totaled more than $200,000. It was the pill mill activities, in fact, that brought Dr. Gosnell’s illegal abortion clinic down, with investigators discovering the facilities following the drug raid. Dr. Gosnell is expected to accept the prosecution’s offer in today’s hearing. [NBC]

Gosnell Surprises Lawyer By Pleading “Not Guilty” To Drug Charge

The Inquirer reports:

West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell continued working from his own playbook Wednesday, rejecting for a second time a federal prosecutor’s plea agreement in a case charging him with selling prescriptions for dangerous narcotic drugs.

The plea would have landed him 20 years in prison, on top of the three life sentences he’s already serving. By rejecting the offer, after reviewing “meticulous notes written on graph paper,” he surprised not only court watchers, but his own lawyer Jack McMahon.

“I thought he would [plead guilty] today, but he said no,” McMahon said.

All of which means: Gosnell will be headed back to the courtroom come September 9th.

Kermit Gosnell to Plead to Federal Drug Charges

Kermit Gosnell, mostly known as the abortion doctor who murdered born-alive babies in his West Philadelphia clinic, will reportedly plead today on a separate list of charges that he also operated the clinic as a “pill mill.” NewsWorks reports:

he FBI first uncovered the horrific details of Gosnell’s abortion clinic as part of a 2011 grand jury investigation into allegations that Gosnell was providing prescriptions for OxyContin and other commonly abused painkillers out of his clinic. Earlier this month, Gosnell, 72, was sentenced to three consecutive life terms on state charges of first-degree murder.

Peter Vaira, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, noted that Gosnell has nothing to lose by altering his plea.

“He’s got complete life sentences, no parole, so what he pleads to over on the federal side doesn’t mean a hill of beans,” Vaira said.


Bill Would Prohibit Abortions After 20 Weeks; Gosnell Cited

Politico reports:

Weeks after re-introducing a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks in Washington, D.C., Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) has rewritten it to set the 20-week limit across the country. “The crushing fact is that abortions on babies just like the ones killed by Kermit Gosnell have been happening hundreds of times per day, every single day, for the past 40 years,” Franks said in a Friday statement, days after the Philadelphia abortion provider was found guilty. The House Judiciary subcommittee chaired by Franks will hold a hearing on his bill this Thursday.

Gosnell, of course, was the West Philly abortion doctor sentenced to life in prison last week after being convicted of murdering three babies who were born alive by severing their spinal cords with scissors.

Gosnell Drops Appeal to Avoid Death Penalty

The Inquirer reports:

Cordial, smiling – and acknowledging he will never get out of prison – West Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell on Tuesday agreed to waive his appeal rights to escape the chance of death by lethal injection.

(Judge Jeffrey) Minehart immediately sentenced Gosnell to two consecutive life prison terms without parole on two of the first-degree murder counts.

Gosnell returns to Minehart’s courtroom Wednesday morning for a formal sentencing hearing on the final first-degree murder charge and the remaining counts on which he was found guilty.

NewsWorks adds:

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty because Gosnell killed more than one person, and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age. But Gosnell’sadvanced age had made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.

AP goes behind the scenes:

Gosnell’s lawyer, Jack McMahon, said his client accepts the verdict and isn’t sorry he went to trial. He said Gosnell gave up a somewhat better deal early on but wanted to air the issues in court and is satisfied that he did so.

“He wanted this case aired out in a courtroom and it got aired out in a courtroom in a fair way. And now he’s accepting what will happen. He’s an intelligent guy,” said McMahon, who said Gosnell would now plead to federal drug charges that are still pending.

The sentencing deal, reached after hours of terse negotiations, spares Gosnell’s family the task of pleading for his life in court, McMahon said. Gosnell has six children, the youngest of them a teenager born to his third wife, who has also pleaded guilty in the case.


Gosnell Guilty on 3 Counts of First-Degree Murder

A few minutes after hearing the guilty verdicts against him, while attorneys huddled with the judge, Kermit Gosnell continued to shake his head in disbelief. Alternating between derisive snorts, and a bemused, sometimes bitter-looking smile, Gosnell stared into the jury box, seemingly unable to accept what had just happened to him—or what he faces next.

Gosnell will face a death penalty hearing, beginning May 21st, after being found guilty by a jury of six women and six men, in the first degree homicide of three babies born alive in his abortion clinic.

Gosnell was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman who was administered an overdose of drugs during an abortion procedure.

He was also convicted of performing more than 20 illegal abortions on babies in the third trimester of development.

Kermit Gosnell first captured the public’s attention—and disgust—after the February 2010 raid of his West Philadelphia clinic. A notably blood-soaked grand jury report—and a pile of indictments—arrived the following year.

The grand jury report referred to Gosnell’s West Philadelphia clinic, in operation for nearly 40 years at 3801 Lancaster Avenue [WATCH VIDEO: Kermit Gosnell Documentary 3801 Lancaster], as a “baby charnel house,” and the media dubbed it a “House of Horrors.” The report cited walls, floors and blankets stained with blood. Gosnell used yellowing, outdated equipment and unsterilized instruments on a patient base largely too poor to go elsewhere. He trained his medical assistants to perform ultrasounds and administer dangerous narcotics, a function for which they were grossly unqualified. The two additional doctors who staffed his clinic, the Atlantic Women’s Medical Center, held medical degrees but no licenses.

Gosnell’s methods, however, shattered even more sacred orthodoxies. Under state law, abortions cannot be performed after 24 weeks of pregnancy, but the report alleged Gosnell took in women his staff often recognized, at first glance, as “too big.” Ultrasounds confirmed that some of these women were 26 weeks pregnant or more, at least two weeks past the state limit, and carrying babies potentially able to survive even a premature delivery. But Gosnell allegedly treated all his legal second-trimester and illegal third-trimester patients the same way: He induced labor through the use of Cytotec, to soften the cervix, and he had his staff of unqualified personnel feed these women so much Cytotec that sometimes the babies just dropped out of their mothers—on chairs and floors and into toilets.

These babies, some allegedly delivered alive and viable, all faced the same fate. Gosnell, or a staff member he trained in the “procedure,” took a pair of surgical scissors and stabbed it into the soft flesh at the back of the baby’s neck, severing the spinal cord. Gosnell called this “snipping” and told his staff it was all perfectly legal and, in fact, “standard procedure.” Gosnell saved the feet of some of these babies, cutting them off and preserving them in specimen jars, tiny toes poking out of formaldehyde murk.

Gosnell’s alleged victims also included the women who came to him for abortions and ended up with perforations to their bowels or uterus and sometimes severe infections. One woman, 22-year-old Semika Shaw, died of a sepsis infection. Another, Karnamaya Mongar, received such a heavy dose of sedatives, including a lethal dose of demerol, that her attempt to have her 19-week-long pregnancy terminated left her dead.

When the grand jury report was released, early in 2011, the grisly details triggered a predictable scrum among pro-choice and pro-life advocates, each of whom blamed the other for making the Gosnell “House of Horrors” possible.

Abortion opponents waved the findings around like a talisman—claiming that a desire to avoid political controversy and to honor calls to keep abortion accessible, had caused all the responsible government agencies to shirk their duties to investigate complaints or even conduct routine inspections. Gosnell’s clinic once went without inspection for 17 years. And the entire case built around his abortion practice was a kind of accident, triggered by a federal investigation into his “pain treatment” practice—a suspected “pill mill” allegedly responsible for funneling mass quantities of Oxycontin and Percocet into the city.

The pro-choice side retorted that a lack of access to safe, affordable abortion clinics was the real culprit, forcing mostly poor women into the corrupt halls of the only clinic that would have them.

The political right accused the media of ignoring Gosnell. Journalists on the left pointed to physical and virtual articles, in print and online, documenting the case. And for a time, the story of Gosnell’s clinic got lost in stories about whether the volume of coverage should have been greater. There were likely many reasons the story never became the center of national conversation. The fatal bombings at the Boston Marathon were one reason. The court’s policy of not allowing television cameras into the proceedings undoubtedly chased away network producers who act as if a case they can’t film simply isn’t happening. But the content of the trial itself likely comprised another. As a culture, we whisper the word “cancer,” but unless we are among the partisans in the debate, we tend not to speak about “abortion” at all. And at Kermit Gosnell’s trial, both legal and illegal abortion was described in often grisly detail, day after day and hour after grinding hour.

Prosecutors showed the jury multiple images of dead babies—allegedly born alive and past the gestational age at which abortion is legal—tiny fingers and toes, delicate limbs and new-baby locks of hair, these babies still and mottled and splayed out on exam tables or stuffed into a box. One image in particular, of a deep slit cut into the back of a baby boy’s neck, seemed to take all the blood described in the grand jury report and render it real—not words on a written indictment, but cruelty made manifest.

Defense attorney Jack McMahon, one of the top defense attorneys in town, put on a tremendous performance. He argued that there was no proof any baby was born alive, and got city medical examiner Sam Gulino, a prosecution witness, to agree with him under cross-examination.

Prosecutors questioned why any doctor would stab a dead baby in the back of the neck. But the case was far more of struggle than the grand jury report had led the media and public to believe. A trial attorney must tell jurors a story, and attorneys Ed Cameron and Joanne Pescatore had great difficulty lashing their 50-odd witnesses into a coherent narrative. In particular, they had to tie a raft of general anecdotes of live “babies” getting their necks “snipped” to the seven specific first degree murder cases involving Babies labeled “A-F.”

The pictures only went so far, proving too many and too few. And so their case was built almost entirely on eyewitness testimony by Gosnell’s staff, most of whom await sentencing on their own charges. Contradictions abounded. And what testimony applied to which baby?

Even Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart got confused. After testimony ended, Gosnell’s attorney, McMahon, argued that the prosecution had failed to make its case and asked Minehart to acquit the doctor of all charges. Minehart rejected most of McMahon’s argument, but did agree to acquit Gosnell on three of the first degree murder charges against him, declaring him “not guilty” in the murders of Babies “B,” “C” and “G.” The next day, however, he came in and amended himself, stating that he meant to acquit Gosnell on Baby “F” while allowing “C” to stand. The alphabet soup was difficult to follow. But the judge’s confusion made one clear statement just the same: The case was a muddle. Could anyone be certain of what the jury would do?

McMahon delivered a stirring closing argument. He brazenly argued that the entire prosecution of Gosnell, who is himself African-American, was “racist.” But more substantively, he noted how threadbare the prosecution’s case had really been. The clinic at 3801 Lancaster Avenue was, in fact, so insular that there was only one witness to this baby, two who disagreed over important details on that baby. Any movement a witness described seeing from a baby consisted of “one  leg,” “one arm” a “single” respiration—more consistent, he said, with some “post-death” nerve impulse than actual life.

Cameron, a veteran homicide prosecutor, closed miserably, from the depths of what he told jurors was a “fever” that had left him feeling weak.

But a story had emerged from 3801 Lancaster Avenue, a story that may have been as chaotic as the allegations of what occurred there, yet a story that was clear enough to the jury, which emerged after 10 days of deliberations and found Gosnell guilty on three of four remaining first degree homicide counts: One of his own employees had snapped a photograph of “Baby A,” because the baby was “so big”and looked like it could have been “born any day.” She also testified that Gosnell came in and whisked that baby away, to “snip” its neck. They found him guilty in the murder of Baby C, a baby that had pulled its arm back when an employee tugged. And they found him guilty in the murder of Baby D, a baby born into a toilet, where one staff member saw it swirling its arms around in the water before its neck was snipped.

Gosnell continued to shake his head and offer sour smiles for several minutes. The only recourse left to him, it seemed, was to act like he was somehow still above it all.

For more details on this case, read Steve Volk’s Inside the Trial of Abortion Doctor Kermit GosnellandGosnell Employee Took Photos of Clinic’s Horrors.”

Update [3:27 p.m.]: Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty on three of four charges of first-degree murder. He was also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, the 41-year-old woman who died during an abortion proceeding. Lawyers will present cases on whether Gosnell should face the death penalty a week from tomorrow.

A verdict has been in reached in the case against Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. He is charged with four counts of first-degree murder for babies he allegedly killed, one count of third-degree murder, and 263 other offenses, so it will take a while for all of them to be divulged. Stay tuned for updates.

Gosnell Trial: Jury Hung on Two Counts [Updated]

The latest from the courtroom:

Updated [10:40 a.m.]

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