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Gosnell Not an Aberration

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Editor's note: This column was co-authored by Ann McElhinney.

If there is one thing the abortion defenders agree on, it's that abortion doctor/mass murderer Kermit Gosnell is an aberration.


The Philadelphia doctor was convicted of truly horrific crimes including killing babies born alive by “snipping” their necks with scissors. He was also convicted of manslaughter for allowing unqualified workers to administer anesthetics to a patient who then died and he performed illegal and late abortions – many on women who were six, seven or eight months pregnant.

When a conservative social media firestorm eventually forced the mainstream media to cover the case everyone agreed that although Gosnell ran a house of horrors abortion clinic – it was a one-off that was not representative of the abortion industry.

It must be true – so many important writers and thinkers told us so.

Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic magazine explained “most people” are pretty clear that “Gosnell is an aberration that says nothing larger about abortion in America."

According to Slate writer William Saletan, Gosnell was an “outlier”.

This line about Gosnell even went all the way to the highest court in the land.

In a Supreme Court Judgement referencing Gosnell, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg described him as “rogue.”

We have spent three years covering the trial and researching the Gosnell case for a book and film. And one of the most frequent questions we get is - “Do we think there are any other Gosnells out there?” Our answer was a mixture of “it's hard to imagine and we really don't know because those who are supposed to regulate abortion have a hands-off approach and the media is very, very reluctant to cover any story that shines a negative spotlight on abortion.”


Well that was our answer until the recent publication of a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The investigation was spurred by the Baby Parts selling scandal revealed by undercover journalists from the Center for Medical Progress. The House Panel widened the investigation and looked at the activities of a Texas abortion provider. They redacted his name from the final report but the similarities with Gosnell and his house of horrors are stunning.

They have interviewed, taken evidence and secured affidavits from the Texas doctor's employees and patients.

According to one employee, the doctor would perform around 40 late second, or third trimester abortions every week. Of these abortions “three to four infants would show signs of life.” And just like Gosnell, the doctor would immediately kill them. The employee said he employed Gosnell's techniques of “snipping the infant's spinal cord with scissors.”

However, he also cut the neck with Sopher forceps: “twisting the infants head: using forceps...or his finger to crush the “soft spot” of the infant's head.”

In a particularly gruesome method of killing that Gosnell never employed, even in the depths of his depravity, the Texas doctor would also kill by crushing the stomach of the child or “inserting his finger down the throat.”

It's quite difficult to write these sentences but he also had another technique for late term abortions when the baby was alive. The employee told the panel under oath: “If the infant's head was coming out first, he would usually use his index finger to puncture its head....”


And just like Gosnell – the doctor would manipulate ultrasounds to make babies appear smaller so he could perform illegal late-term abortions. And just like Gosnell he had unqualified staff administering drugs and carrying out abortions.

He even followed Gosnell's practice of reusing what were supposed to be single-use medical instruments.

Gosnell operated in Pennsylvania – a 50/50 state – and the doctor identified in the House investigation was based in Texas – one of the most Republican states in the U.S. But the political complexion of the states doesn't seem to matter. Abortion doctors can operate charnel houses and the bureaucracies and media seem happy not to look, even as the bodies are being carried out of the clinics.

After reading this report we now state definitely that there are other Gosnells still operating in the U.S. It's just a question of how many.

Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney are married filmmakers and investigative journalists. They wrote Gosnell - The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer - available now! 

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