Gosnell's depravity brings pro-life awakening

Arina Grossu is Director, Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Washington Times on February 17, 2014.

Feb. 18 marks the fourth anniversary of the Kermit Gosnell's Philadelphia abortion facility. Ironically, the reason for the raid was not the multiple abortion-related reports and complaints the FBI had received.

Rather, the Drug Enforcement Administration was checking into reports that Gosnell was illegally selling up to 200 prescriptions for narcotics per day.

What they uncovered in the raid was that Gosnell's Women's Medical Center was nothing short of a "house of horrors." The grand jury report reads like a spine-chilling novel: "The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn't used ... . By day, it was a prescription mill; by night, an abortion mill."

The most gruesome of all findings were the remains of 45 babies, some of whom were stored in the facility's freezer. Additionally, the company in charge of collecting medical waste in Gosnell's facility, Stericycle, stopped collection of "medical waste" owing to Gosnell's unpaid bills.

This finding was also the damning evidence that Gosnell was performing illegal late abortions past the 24-week Pennsylvania ban. The method: If a baby was born alive, Gosnell stuck scissors in the back of the baby's neck, cutting the spinal cord. This is what he called "snipping" and "ensuring fetal demise."

Doctors, medical examiners and several lawyers representing women injured or killed by Gosnell filed (and even hand-delivered) complaints against Gosnell to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Department of Health and the Board of Medicine. The complaints fell on deaf ears.

The grand jury report detailed that the reason Pennsylvania's Department of Health failed to inspect any of the state's 22 abortion facilities in 17 years was because officials thought that inspections would put "a barrier up to women" seeking abortions.

The tragedy of Gosnell's crimes brought to light a cultural awakening about the brutality of late abortion and the dangers of unregulated abortion facilities to women and children.

As an immediate result of the release of the grand jury report, four employees of the Pennsylvania Department of Health resigned and 17 state employees were fired. Gosnell was convicted and sentenced to three life terms, but that wasn't the only verdict handed down.

There was also the verdict of public opinion. An Investors Business Daily poll showed that 42 percent of respondents who read or saw news stories on the Gosnell trial said that as a result of the trial they now lean more toward pro-life views than pro-choice views.

The Gosnell raid and subsequent trial revealed the ugly truth about abortion, swaying public opinion. A May 2013 Gallup poll found that 48 percent of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, and 45 percent as pro-choice.

A July 2013 Rasmussen poll revealed that fewer voters than ever are calling themselves pro-choice, and the gap between pro-choice and pro-life voters is the narrowest yet. A January 2014 Marist poll found that 84 percent of Americans think abortion should be restricted.

The Gosnell trial and the public's response prompted a wave of pro-life legislation across the country. In May 2013 at the same time as Gosnell's conviction, Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, and other pro-life members of Congress began an inquiry into states' oversight of abortion providers. In June 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, between 2011 and 2013 more pro-life bills were signed into law than in the entire previous decade. Forty-five percent of the abortion restrictions enacted over those three years included restrictions on abortion providers and bans on abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, among others.

A Guttmacher State Policy Review for each year reveals the total number of pro-life bills that were passed: 23 bills (2010), a whopping 92 bills in 24 states (2011), 43 bills in 19 states (2012) and 70 bills in 22 states (2013).

The polls also reflected an awakening on late-term abortions. In April 2013, the Polling Company showed 65 percent approval for the 20-week ban.

The sheer depravity and disrespect for human life that took place inside Gosnell's unregulated facility has awakened America's conscience and has led to renewed action at the state and federal level in defense of both women and their unborn children. Great evil has resulted in great good, and for that we can be thankful.