House of Horrors at Philly Abortion Clinic Inflames Debate

Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell has been charged with eight counts of murder. Both sides of the abortion debate are having a field day with this case. But what happens to poor women of color faced with unwanted pregnancies?


The grisly murders and gruesome discoveries inside Kermit B. Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic leave one wondering what would make mostly poor, minority women so desperate that they would utilize his filthy clinic, where body parts of dead fetuses allegedly were stored in jars that lined the shelves of the macabre scene.

On Jan. 19, a grand jury released findings of its investigation into criminal wrongdoing by Gosnell, 69, at his Women’s Medical Society clinic, according to a statement from the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams.

The investigation was launched after drug agents and Philadelphia police raided the clinic and learned of the death of an abortion patient. The patient had suffered cardiac arrest after Gosnell’s employees allegedly administered lethal doses of narcotics. At least two are charged with impersonating physicians.

“Gosnell staffed his decrepit and unsanitary clinic entirely with unlicensed personnel, let them practice medicine on unsuspecting patients, unsupervised, and directed them to heavily drug patients in his absence,” the district attorney’s office’s statement said. Gosnell’s wife, Pearl, is charged as a co-conspirator.

Additionally, Gosnell has been charged with performing abortions beyond the 24-week limit prescribed by law and was charged with eight counts of murder for the deaths of his patient and seven live babies.

The case has ratcheted up the rhetoric in the already highly contentious abortion debate. Anti-abortion activists strenuously argue that the Gosnell case illustrates why abortions are reprehensible and should not be permitted at all, regardless of when they occur, whether at six weeks or 24 weeks. Meanwhile, pro-choice advocates argue that Gosnell was an anomaly who needed to be stopped. Their fear is that the case will lead to a return to dangerous, back-alley abortions.

“He [Gosnell] was an exception to the rule,” Rachel K. Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a sexual- and reproductive-health think tank based in New York, told The Root. “He is not representative of the typical abortion doctor.”

Ryan Bomberger, an anti-abortion activist who is chief creative officer of the Radiance Foundation, argues that pro-choice activists are not acting out of a concern for human life. His organization is responsible for the wildly controversial anti-abortion billboard campaign that has appeared nationwide, from Atlanta to Milwaukee to Los Angeles.

“It’s feigned outrage about the conditions,” Bomberger told The Root. “Their position is that women should have safe and clean environments to kill their unborn children. The only thing they care about is whether a girl chooses abortion.”