The shocking, gruesome case of Philadelphia abortion provider 72-year-old Dr. Kermit Gosnell, now on trial for the murder of one patient and seven newborns has, naturally, become a talking point for anti-choicers who believe that Gosnell's horrific "baby charnel house" represents abortion at large, rather than what it obviously is: the result of the limitations on abortion procedures and subsequent desperate, last-ditch efforts to obtain one.
Addressing the potential reasons that the Gosnell case hasn't blown up as much as any old major crime against humanity (which basically everyone's been asking, regardless of their political bend) on Slate yesterday, David Weigel cited the Department of Health's report and asks some bigger questions: "'[We] could and should have closed down Gosnell’s clinic years before,' write the investigators. Why wasn't it? Were state regulators nervous about igniting a political fight about abortion? Is the regulatory system incompetent or under-funded? And are there other states where the same could be said?"
This morning, Fox News—as stated above, with motives quite obvious—provided some brief profiles of Gosnell's former staff, eight of whom are facing prison time along with their former employer. Three have pled guilty to third-degree murder. They were paid under the table at a minimum-wage rate or a little above ($7 to $10 an hour), worked long hours and
Unlicensed doctor Stephen Massof, 50, of Pittsburgh, said he could not get a U.S. medical residency after finishing medical school in Grenada and went to work for Gosnell as a "backup plan" after six years running a bar. He admitted killing two babies by snipping their necks, as he said Gosnell taught him to do.
Eileen O'Neill, 56, had worked as a doctor in Louisiana but relinquished her medical license in 2000 to deal with "post-traumatic stress syndrome," according to her 2011 grand jury testimony. She is the only employee on trial with Gosnell, fighting false billing and racketeering charges.
The others convicted include clinic workers Lynda Williams and Sherry West. Williams was hired to clean instruments but soon helped anesthetize patients, perform ultrasounds and carry out abortions, cutting babies in the back of the neck. She has pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, which carries a 20- to 40-year prison sentence.
One notable demo of employees-cum-accomplices: young women from foster care or troubled homes. Employee Elizabeth Hampton's foster mother was Gosnell's third wife Pearl (a licensed cosmetologist who has copped to performing abortions). A classmate of Gosnell's daughter began working for him after she moved in with the family due to problems at home.
Receptionist Tina Baldwin's daugher Ashley, now 22, took an interest in medicine and began working for Gosnell at age 15. (Jesus Christ.) She testified:
Before long, she was working past midnight — and missing school — to help the nocturnal doctor perform abortions. More than once, she said, she saw a baby move after the procedure. Gosnell would explain to his teenage trainee that the movements were a last reflex during the death process.
At one point, prosecutors asked Tina Baldwin, who had mentioned O'Neill's professional problems with Gosnell (she was haranguing him to help her get her medical license back, and he was stalling), if O'Neill kept working there:
"We all kept working there," Baldwin replied sadly.
'Dr. Kermit Gosnell Abortion Trial: Unlicensed doc. fled PA abortion raid, receptionist testifies' [CBS News]
'Ashley Baldwin, Teen Worker At Kermit Gosnell's Abortion Clinic, Testifies' [HuffPo]
'Workers at Philly Abortion Clinic Saw Few Options' [Fox News]
Pic via AP