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The Kermit Gosnell Case: House of Horrors Essay

Kermit Gosnell grew up during the Civil Rights era. He decided to partake in a more radical view and became involved in social and political changes. At the time, everyone stood for a cause; his cause would become the abortion rights movement. Kermit Gosnell was unable to achieve a license as a board certified physician. Therefore, he was neither an obstetrician nor a gynecologist. He faced the barrier of becoming a doctor during a turning point for African Americans. He did not want his failure to become of him and his race.

He would later move on to participating in an abortion study where he would eventually find his nitch and a way around the system. Kermit participated in a human experimental research study in 1973. The study consisted of fifteen poor women entering their second trimester who willingly agreed to have Gosnell perform free abortions on them. The abortions performed had been released on television at the time however, are no longer available. This study would later go down in history as the “Mother’s Day Massacre”. Nine of the fifteen women suffered from complications.

Three of the fifteen women would be hospitalized. At the time abortions were performed with a “super coil”. The hot rod would be inserted into a women’s uterus, terminating the pregnancy and damaging her insides. Gosnell went on to open his own practice; Women’s Medical Society, under the name of another doctor since he was not board certified. An inspection was performed in 1978 and was good until 1979. The last inspection on Gosnell’s clinic would be performed in 1989. The second inspection reported he had no licensed nurses however, the complaint was over looked.

His clinic became known to locals as a place to go when no one would help you. Gosnell became a well-respected and loved man in the Pennsylvania community. Gosnell felt that he was doing something for these women. He felt that it was irrespirable not to respond to these women. Rouge clinics such as the one Kermit Gosnell ran typically prayed on women of low income or immigrant communities. At Women’s Medical Society, abortions come at a low cost, even lower if they are able to endure pain and deny anesthetics. This allowed Gosnell’s company to flourish financially. He was able to take in as much as fifteen thousand a night.

Profiting around two-million a year in cold, hard cash. Why did his happen? Gosnell allowed patients to come to his practice with no parent consent. He allowed young girls to come in and “take care of business”. One young girl came to Gosnell at the age of fifteen. She had been past the twelve week mark and Gosnell was to charge her $350. 00 cash. By the time the young women raised enough money to have the abortion performed she had been well past the eighteen month point. She returned the Gosnell and without any counseling he offered her the low price if she was able to endure torture.

Eventually women started to raise issues and complaints started to surface. Women were contracting venereal diseases under the care of Gosnell because he would reuse instruments from one patient to the next. In the end, the prosecution was not warranted and all complaints had been thrown out. He was charged with five-malpractice cases and paid out 1. 7 million. These cases were simply pay-offs. The malpractice charges were covered up and the department of public health would not send out anyone to inspect his clinic. The man made millions of dollars a year performing abortions and other needy services.

He was an incompetent, unethical doctor who found a nitch providing abortions to poor, desperate women. The Department of Public Health covered up the complaints and state officials failed to inspect the clinic—but why? The complaints and malpractice cases eventually started to harm Gosnell’s reputation. Women no longer turned to Gosnell to perform first trimester abortions. The women actually avoided him. His only choice was to promote late term abortions and other services. He would become known as the only doctor who would perform late term abortions if a woman was able to pay.

If you could pay, you could receive an abortion past 20 weeks gestation. Due to Gosnell’s lack of training one woman died from a late term abortion Gosnell had performed. The “doctor” had told the young women not to call his practice under any circumstance. The woman was on the floor screaming in pain and bleeding profusely. Eventually, her family called Gosnell and he did not want to know anything. She would later be pronounced dead at a local hospital. If investigators had come out they may have discovered this man’s evil scheme and perhaps saved a women’s life.

Authorities would have also discovered bodies of babies in the basement refrigerator that had been delivered alive and killed through the act of “snipping”. The act of snipping became popular to Women’s Health Society and would be performed by few employees including Gosnell. Snipping is the act of severing the spinal cord resulting in death. It became easier for Gosnell to kill babies rather than abort late term pregnancies in order to avoid lawsuits. Gosnell had been faced with 46 lawsuits and wanted desperately to avoid them. It is believed that 50% of Gosnell’s patients had babies who were snipped.

Gosnell also attempted another money making scheme that involved injecting digoxin into the babies heart. His continuous attempts never worked and he would eventually return to “snipping” these children anyways because he considered them “doomed” or “dead babies”. These “snipping’s” or “very late term pregnancies” were performed on Sundays when other employees were out of the office. Only Gosnell and his wife would work Sundays and it would not take long before his Sunday mischief would catch up to him. In 2010, Kermit Gosnell’s clinic was raided and unfortunately abortion was not the reason.

Gosnell was believed to have been running a “Pill Mill”. He was distributing illegal drugs. The FBI and DEA raided the clinic on February 18th, 2010. They also raided his home where they found patient files, a quarter of a million dollars and a gun. At this time, Gosnell’s license had been pulled and the Department of Public Health would finally investigate his operation. It had been 15 years since any public health official had stepped place into his facility. They would uncover forty-five fetuses; 10-20% over the legal 24 week period.

On May 4, a grand-jury watched fifty-eight witness statements. Gosnell was looking at one count of 3rd degree murder, seven counts of 1st degree murder to viable babies, born alive and hundreds of premeditated murders. In the end, Gosnell would be charged with only three counts of 1st degree murder. For thirty-one years this man ran an abortion mill that aborted and killed babies of all ages and gestation periods. This case really makes you question why society allowed this to happen for thirty-one years without stepping in.

If Gosnell never illegally sold prescription drugs he would have never been caught out or charged. Society overlooked Gosnell’s facility for two reasons; He was a black male doctor and 2. He was running an abortion clinic in an urban society. Abortion is never a pretty thing. Abortion is a huge present day conflict and no government official or Public Health official wants to deal with the chaos that comes along with closing down a clinic. Pro-rights activists and other groups will be all over the story. This explains why there has been little to no news coverage.

No one really knows how to react to the sensitive subject. It is a human rights issue; an individual’s choice and no government official can take that away. Dr. Keith Ablow of Fox News Medical A-Team described this act of crime as a “part of the human condition when things go wrong”. He personally believes that Gosnell was faced with personal destruction; he was psychologically damaged; clearly, not normal. “Psychologically dead people kill other people—psychologically or physically or both—then often extinguish themselves, too (Ablow, Keith). Did Gosnell suffer from a secret shame? The longer an individual lives with secrets and shame the more psychologically damaged one becomes. Emotions drive and empower oneself. After performing numerous abortion procedures, who would be normal? Perhaps he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When an individual endures negative images and actions continuously over a thirty year period wouldn’t we all become immune to the destruction? Keith believes that Gosnell is the victim in this case.

He believes that there were demonic acts and neurological issues or life events that surfaced in Gosnell’s life. Keith has displayed a concern for the doctor’s personal life. He believes that Gosnell is at a high suicide risk. “Those who run from their murderous impulses can never run fast enough or far enough. The only antidote is facing them; sharing them with a true healer; understanding their origins and then vanquishing them (Ablow, Keith). ” During a Fox News interview Gosnell explained that he had followed his own philosophy, “I provide the same care I would like my daughter to receive”…. If you are not making mistakes, you’re really not attempting to do something”… “I believe my patients believe I do my very best by them, I am doing my job—this is why they come to me”. So was Gosnell wrong for performing tasks at his patients demands or was he, himself corrupt and seeking financial growth through women’s misfortunes? “Whatever psychological death Kermit Gosnell suffered as a boy manifested it inside him as a man, projected onto babies who were born with unlimited potential, but met the horror of someone, ultimately, more given to extinguishing that potential than preserving it.

They met Mr. Hyde. When Gosnell snipped the spines of newborns, murdering them, I doubt very much that he felt a rush of adrenaline or a wave of sadness. I would bet, based on my nearly twenty years as a forensic psychiatrist, that he felt, precisely, nothing—a familiar silence that echoed his own buried memories of having been extinguished, in his empathy, long ago, through events secreted away, never confronted and turned rancid, underground (Ablow, Keith). ” So was Gosnell simply an abortion provider serving the needs of women of poverty or was he a butcher, preying on women?

He made a good profit off these women and was able to keep business going with his illegal abortions. He started out as a Women’s Right Activist in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He decided to represent women’s right to abortion and these actions reflect his cause. Although, extreme in nature he continued that commitment to women. He felt that he was doing well by women and women kept coming to his clinics so he eventually became this monster we view him as today. He finally found his way of proving himself important. Gosnell’s crimes only underline the need for all women to have access to affordable and genuinely safe providers. His patients subjected themselves to terrible abuses because that’s what women will do when they’re desperate and they don’t see other options. … Gosnell was able to do what he did because the women who came to him had fallen through the cracks of our damaged medical system (Goldberg, Michelle). ” Gosnell’s criminal actions resulted from mental disorders. After college he did not work up the ability to become a licensed physician.

He found a way around the system when he decided to participate in a free abortion human research study in 1973 with a fellow licensed physician. The experience of the Mother’s Day massacre gave Gosnell enough confidence to continue as an abortion “doctor”. Although he was not certified his clinic was untouchable because it could not be legislated due to the controversy over abortion. Gosnell had little experience with how to correctly abort a fetus however; he knew enough to feel confident enough to go through with the procedures. His positive reinforcement would be the happiness of his patience.

His weakness was not apparent to his patients. He would become loved and respected in the community as a doctor who would help you no matter what. Over time Gosnell’s action became more and more criminal. Surprisingly, Gosnell would still consider his actions as a form of help for his patients. They came to him with a need and he would give them the answer they deserved. It is very possible that Gosnell suffered from alexithymia; “a deficit in emotional cognition that prevents them from being able to understand or talk about their thought and emotions; they seem robotic and emotionally dead (Siegel, Larry).

Or even Post-traumatic stress disorder similar to the events endured by our nation’s finest military men and women. After carrying out late-term abortions, Gosnell very well could have suffered a form of PTSD. Any individual witnessing or performing such awful procedures would eventually become immune to the morality of life; making it easy for him to go on killing innocent babies born alive. “The factors that cause mental turmoil also cause antisocial behaviors (Siegel, Larry). ” Kermit Gosnell was a doctor who graduated from Dickenson University and Jefferson Medical School.

He had the appropriate credentials however, did not become board certified. At the age of 72, how much cognitive decline had this man experienced? He performed hundreds of illegal activities for years on patients from both inner cities and suburbs. He carefully and skillfully treated these out of town patients in different rooms so they would be less likely to file a complaint; implying intent and also suggesting a bit of narcissism – that the rules don’t apply to him. “No woman would subject herself to such a place if she thought she had somewhere else to go.

Forty-one-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died after being given an overdose of sedatives at the clinic, was a refugee who had recently arrived in the U. S. from a resettlement camp in Nepal. She couldn’t read English and may not have had any idea how to find a decent clinic. Minors went to Gosnell’s clinic—it was the one place they could skirt state law and get abortions without parental consent. Gosnell performed illegal late-term abortions on women who should have been cared for months earlier” (Goldberg, Michelle). It is crystal-clear that Gosnell took advantage of his patients.

He was also doing some work with the poor and was an African American doctor which is why maybe some regulatory groups never inquired about his practice. Sometime groups can be bad…. and develop a mob mentality… examples are endless… the mob, Nazi’s and KKK. But groups can also be good…. and doctors should regulate one another…. and regularly check on one another. Why the failure in this case? Why didn’t other doctors regularly review his care and his clinic? This failure in the system… might have fed his narcissism that I am above the rules… o one is ever going to come look at what I’m doing…. since what I am doing and who I am doing it for is such a good cause (… possibly his rationale) (Doran, Anthony). ”

Freud would describe Gosnell’s actions as his natural human instinct. “Freud believed that human behavior is shaped by two instinctual drives: eros, the life instinct, which drives people toward self-fulfillment and enjoyment, and thanatos, the death instinct, which produces self-destruction. Thanatos can be expressed externally (violence and sadism) or internally (suicide, alcoholism, or other self-destructive habits)”. Humans, lacking this inhibition against fatal violence, are capable of killing their own kind in war or as a result of interpersonal conflicts such as those arising over finding suitable mates (Siegel, Larry). ” Whether Gosnell’s actions were a product of self-fulfillment or sadism is up for interpretation. It is clear that his motive fired from his ability to perform illegal procedures without getting caught. The narcissism fueled his fire and his business. Gosnell premeditated his actions based on the needs of his under privileged cliental and he took full advantage of their misfortunes.

Many theories can be applied to Gosnell’s situation. Women’s Health Society flourished by location; a disorganized urban area that provided a breeding ground for Gosnell’s illegal procedures and practices. Gosnell adapted socially. He was able to obtain his goal by the needs of the poor and unfortunate. Merton’s Theory of Anomie discusses the ability for those bound by stature or class to obtain (in this case) proper medical care. Gosnell committed the crime of aborting babies and administering illegal drugs to needy urban folks.

Gosnell conformed to the desires of wealth through education but was unable to obtain a high paying job because his inability to become board certified. He accepted the goals of society requiring board certified doctors to open practices yet, insisted on opening a practice despite his inability to do so through legitimate means. The conflicting forces led him to adopt an innovative solution to his dilemma. He sold drugs, performed illegal abortions and became as innovative as possible. His success and innovation would be followed by a serious, long-term social consequence.

His criminal success helped convince–otherwise law-abiding citizens that innovative means work better and faster than conventional ones; that Women’s Health Society was the go-to place for care. “The resulting conflict forces them to adopt innovative solutions to their dilemma (unwanted pregnancies had to be terminated) and Gosnell granted this need at a fairly reasonable price. “This explains why crime is initiated and sustained in certain low-income ecological areas (Siegel, Larry). ” Gosnell’s actions also fall under Merton’s social adaptation view on Rebellion.

He was a revolutionary who wanted to promote radical change (abortion rights for women) in the existing social structure. He stood for an alternative lifestyle, goal and beliefs and his position engaged in rebellion from the norm of society. He wanted to create an alternative opportunity for women within the existing community (Siegel, Larry). Gosnell’s genocide is a reflection of his failure to become one of the first African American board certified physicians of his time. He wanted to be known and would do so at a great cost.


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