Gosnell is a well-known figure in Powelton Village, where his clinic is located, and Mantua, where he has a mansion on a hill, overlooking the Schuylkill River. Before opening his "baby charnel house" abortion mill, Gosnell operated the Mantua Halfway House. Even as he collected millions in government funding to rehab drug addicts, he dealt methadone. He even hired a noted artist, Joe Tiberino, to paint an anti-drug mural on the building where he sold drugs. At the Powelton clinic, Gosnell also dispensed pills illegally. Prescriptions were pre-signed, to be handed out by a 15-year-old receptionist. Hey, if Queen Victoria could push opium, and the C.I.A. ferry tons of heroin here and there, why shouldn't this small time doctor drop a few tablets onto needy hands?
Nearly half of all black pregnancies in America end in abortion. Whatever your politics, that should be an alarming statistic. (Worldwide, the highest rate of abortions belongs to the country of my birth, Vietnam.) A week before the Gosnell story broke, there was a news item about a Memphis high school where 90 girls were pregnant. High rates of abortions and teen pregnancies can only result in head and heart aches.
The sexual revolution coincided with better and more accessible methods of contraception, but as this sexual culture became all pervasive and entrenched, means for dealing with it responsibly have not always been available. Many poor women have no doctors, hence no birth control pills. Pregnant, they have inadequate or no prenatal care. Should they need an abortion, they must wait to come up with the cash. In Italy, home of the Catholic Church, where many nuns work in public hospitals and there's a crucifix in every hospital room, abortions are performed for free. Why? Because they have universal healthcare.
Indicting Gosnell, the Philadelphia District Attorney stated, "Pennsylvania is not a third-world country. There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago." Casualties of his botched abortions were also routinely brought to local emergency rooms, yet no outside doctors intervened. In short, plenty of people saw what was happening, but they were either too callous, cynical or bureaucratic to care.
Recently, I sat in a bar in West Philadelphia, not far from Gosnell's clinic. Within three hours, three men wandered in to sell incense, sheets of a Xeroxed, quite atrocious poem and (probably fake) Sex in the City perfume. Just outside Philly, in Chester, where Martin Luther King went to college, you can see men sell body oils, incense, clothing and nominal books on the sidewalks of its abject downtown. This mode of survival will spread, so the government should leave these tenacious Americans alone. What it shouldn't neglect to do, however, is to protect our most vulnerable--and you can't be more helpless than a newly born infant--from predators like Kermit Gosnell.
Several days have passed since this story broke, yet there's no uproar from the mainstream or even alternative media. This is the biggest mass murder in U.S. history. Within walking distance of downtown Philadelphia, and merely six blocks from UPenn, a $40,000 a year, Ivy League school, hundreds of babies were butchered as government officials looked the other way. With failure and depravity on so many levels, there has been no national mourning or soul searching. That in itself is a tragedy.