The wrong lesson from Dr. Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” 5

I’m Facebook friends with my local Representative in the Iowa House. She posted this comment on her Facebook page yesterday: “The tragic story of the Philadelphia doctor’s abortion clinic treating employees, pregnant women, and aborted fetus’ like dirt is exactly why we need safe, legal, and compassionate family planning.” More…

An institutional conspiracy of silence 13

By Tom Quiner

Which of these is worse?

1. A Philadelphia abortionist gives birth to babies and then kills them. This happens more than a hundred times according to witnesses.

2. The mainstream media imposes a news blackout and refuses to cover the story of this abortionist’s trial.

3. Government officials at the state and local level were alerted to horrific events taking place at the clinic, and chose to ignore them.

All of these are terribly shocking and tragic. Let us focus on #3 for the moment.

As a set up, here are excerpts from the Grand Jury report that looked into the crimes committed in Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s abortion clinic (now dubbed the “House of Horrors”):

Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams, show releasing the Grand Jury report in 2011 on Dr. Gosnell's "house of horrors."

Philadelphia District Attorney, Seth Williams, shown releasing the Grand Jury report in 2011 on Dr. Gosnell’s “house of horrors.”

page 47 — sealed trash bags containing fetal remains (not graphic, but conceptually disturbing)
page 74 — baby feet in jars
page 85 — baby girl, intact (looks like a newborn, stretched out, no cord, no visible mutilations)
page 102 — baby boy A (baby curled in a box with his cord, no visible mutilations)
page 115 — baby boy with back of his neck slit

The captions above describe the photos of the baby bodies and body parts found throughout the clinic.

The Grand Jury described the professional “credentials” of Dr. Gosnell’s team:

“The people who ran this sham medical practice included no doctors other than Gosnell himself, and not even a single nurse. Two of his employees had been to medical school, but neither of them were licensed physicians. They just pretended to be. Everyone called them “Doctor,” even though they, and Gosnell, knew they weren’t. Among the rest of the staff, there was no one with any medical licensing or relevant certification at all. But that didn’t stop them from making diagnoses, performing procedures, administering drugs.”

The unsafe environment and bad outcomes to the clinic’s patients led to a string of complaints directed to appropriate local and state officials. The Grand Jury, on pages 215 to 217 in their report, suggested all of “this death and damage” could have been mitigated had the proper policing authorities done their job:

“Had state and local officials performed their duties properly, Gosnell’s clinic would have been shut down decades ago. Gosnell would have lost the medical license that he used to inflict irreparable harm on women; to illegally abort viable, late-term fetuses; and to kill innumerable babies outside the womb.”

But they didn’t perform their duties properly. For some reason, they did not do the type of due-diligence that they would have done to any other ambulatory surgical facility, as the Grand Jury report reveals:

“Had DOH treated the clinic as the ambulatory surgical facility it was, DOH inspectors would have assured that the staff were all licensed, that the facility was clean and sanitary, that anesthesia protocols were followed, and that the building was properly equipped and could, at least, accommodate stretchers. Failure to comply with these standards would have given cause for DOH to revoke the facility’s license to operate.”

The Grand Jury went into further detail by itemizing every area where public officials refused to do their duty, at the eventual cost of lives and grave damage to women’s reproductive health. Interestingly, the public officials at the focal point of this institutional malfeasance are all women. It was women who ignored the complaints of women.

The Department of Health adopted a policy in 1993 that they would only inspect an abortion clinic if they received a complaint. The Grand Jury report reveals that didn’t happen:

“Janice Staloski, one of the evaluators of Gosnell’s clinic in 1992, 10 years later was the Director of DOH’s Division of Home Health – the unit that is inexplicably responsible for overseeing the quality of care in abortion clinics. In January 2002, an attorney representing Semika Shaw, a 22-year-old woman who had died following an abortion at Gosnell’s clinic, wrote to Staloski requesting copies of inspection reports for any on-site inspections of the clinic conducted by DOH. Staloski wrote to the attorney that no inspections had been conducted since 1993 because DOH had received no complaints about the clinic in that time.

Except that it had. In 1996, another attorney, representing a different patient of Gosnell’s, informed Staloski’s predecessor as director of the Home Health Division that his client had suffered a perforated uterus, requiring a radical hysterectomy, as a result of Gosnell’s negligence. The Home Health director discussed this patient with DOH Senior Counsel Kenneth Brody, and the complaint report was documented in records turned over to the Grand Jury. It was surely available to Staloski when she inaccurately told the attorney in January 2002 that DOH had received no complaints regarding Gosnell’s clinic.”

So complaints HAD come in, but they were ignored. Dr. Gosnell’s clinic was essentially granted a free pass to continue business as usual, which meant more deaths, more unsafe and unlawful third trimester abortions, and more women who suffered irreversible damage to their reproductive health.

Then a woman died in the clinic, and still the authorities chose to ignore the growing carnage:

“Not even Karnamaya Mongar’s death triggered an inspection or investigation. On November 24, 2009, Gosnell sent a fax to the department, followed by a letter addressed to Staloski, notifying DOH that Karnamaya Mongar had died following an abortion at his clinic. (Gosnell’s letter inaccurately stated that the second day of her procedure was November 18.) Darlene Augustine, a registered nurse and health quality administrator in the department’s Division of Home Health, received the fax.”

So did the authorities spring into action? No …

Augustine, who supervises surveyors who respond to and investigate complaints at health care facilities, testified that she immediately notified her boss, Cynthia Boyne. (Boyne had become director of DOH’s Division of Home Health in 2007, when Staloski was promoted to head the Bureau of Community Licensure and Certification.) Augustine said that she told Boyne on November 25 that DOH should immediately go out to the clinic and initiate an investigation. Augustine acknowledged that she generally had the authority to send surveyors out to investigate – and she often did so within an hour of receiving a notice of a serious event such as a death. She testified, however, that she felt she needed Director Boyne’s approval because Gosnell’s notice involved an abortion clinic.

Boyne did not give her approval. Instead, she went to the bureau director, Staloski, to discuss the matter. Augustine explained that abortion clinics were treated differently from other medical facilities because Staloski had for years overseen the department’s handling of complaints and inspections – or lack of inspections – relating to abortion clinics. Staloski, according to Augustine, was “the ultimate decision-maker” with respect to whether DOH would conduct an inspection or investigation. Augustine testified that neither Boyne nor Staloski ever gave her approval to conduct the investigation that she thought was appropriate.

The Grand Jury’s report goes into great detail on the institutional conspiracy of silence that continued, that allowed Dr. Gosnell to continue to hurt and maim women and children. Their conclusion on page 261 was damning:

It is not our job to say who should be fired or demoted. We believe, however, that anyone responsible for permitting Gosnell to operate as he did should face strong disciplinary action up to and including termination. This includes not only the people who failed to do the inspecting, the prosecuting, and the protecting, but also those at the top who obviously tolerated, or even encouraged, the inaction. (emphasis: original)

The Department of State literally licensed Gosnell’s criminally dangerous behavior. DOH gave its stamp of approval to his facility. These agencies do not deserve the public’s trust. The fate of Karnamaya Mongar and countless babies with severed spinal cords is proof that people at those departments were not doing their jobs. Those charged with protecting the public must do better.

Advocates for abortion rights proclaim abortion to be an essential component of a woman’s reproductive health. Even more, they accuse those who disagree as waging a “war on women.”

The institutional conspiracy of silence that took place in Philadelphia reveals this mantra for the fiction that it is. Women in charge of the system to monitor abortionists made the choice to protect a man who was destroying women’s reproductive health.

They chose to protect the abortion industry from bad publicity at the expense of women.

They waged a war on real women, most of whom were poor, in order to protect rich abortionists, like Dr. Gosnell.

The mainstream media has colluded in this conspiracy of silence by refusing to cover the story. That may change as more people read the shocking contents of the Grand Jury’s damning report.