No thanks to the so-called ‘mainstream media’ (a term I have never found my peace with for its ‘New World Order’ paranoia overtones), the world is now aware of the crimes of a Dr Kermit Gosnell, of the beautiful city of Philadelphia, PA. Mr Gosnell is accused of running an operation of such barbaric and contemptuous nature that no words but a fair description of the events would do it justice — and that description is aptly provided by the Grand Jury, who have earned this grisly lawyer’s appreciation and respect for wading through the horror for the sake of justice.
Then again, Gosnell’s is not the first abortion mill that turns out to make Alder Hey look like a case study in human tissue legislation compliance. In truth, that is not the shocking aspect of Mr Gosnell’s crimes, and it is not the dead babies with their spinal cords snipped and the Nepali refugee woman overdosed on pethidine that make the revelations about Gosnell’s practice particularly egregious: the notoriety that l’affaire Gosnell will carry forever stems from the fact that the Grand Jury’s report unearths the hideous economics behind abortion.
Even among opponents of abortion, the picture of abortion doctors is largely that mediated by the pro-abortion media: conscientous, hard-working doctors who are going to work every day under bomb threats and vicious Christians armed with… I don’t know, rosaries or whatever it is vicious Christians carry. I’ve yet to see a horde of vicious pro-lifers with katanas. But I digress. Mr Gosnell knew his part, and played it well: even after the revelation of crimes so heinous, it verges on the absurd — leaving a fifteen-year-old in charge of life and death, using the same tubing for curettage and oxygen, letting unqualified people handle highly dangerous controlled drugs –, Gosnell appeals to his ‘service to the community’, championing healthcare in the underprivileged in the community he was born into. No doubt had this not emerged, he would have been up for some community award or another.
The shocking revelation, then, is not Kermit Gosnell the Monster — the truly shocking revelation is that of Kermit Gosnell the Entrepreneur.
For Mr Gosnell might have been an abhorrent and negligent medic, but his business plan is spot on. In what could be called the pay-as-you-go Ryanair of the abortion industry, Mr Gosnell charged by level of sedation — patients could pay for whatever sedation they could afford, whether clinically appropriate or not. Want to be knocked out with temazepam for a procedure that is normally done under local anaesthetic? That’d be $150. Abortion over 24 weeks? Pay us, and we’ll hold the ultrasound probe a bit askew to show the head smaller — and thus the gestational age lower. Everything is possible in abortionomics. No wonder Mr Gosnell’s ‘other business’ was dispensing, over the course of a mere few years, a staggering amount of drugs — among others, half a million pills of the highly ‘desirable’ painkiller oxycodone and only slightly fewer of the sedative alprazolam. Stacked up, Gosnell’s prescriptions of narcotics would exceed the height of Mt Everest. No doubt each and every single pill of this was clinically warranted and Mr Gosnell received not a single penny of illegal incentives for their prescriptions, for Brutus is an honourable man. In perhaps the most cynical of his efforts to hide his monstrous misdeeds behind a cloak of ‘community service’ carefully designed to appeal the ‘right-thinking’ intellectuals of the age too willing to see a hard-working African-American physician in a tough neighbourhood heckled by white pro-life theocons instead of the stark and disgusting reality, Gosnell has repeatedly pointed out that his service to the impoverished population of West Philly included, among others, a drugs halfway house. Heaven only knows what that place was half-way to, but I can guess being free of drugs it was not.
Abortion is big business. What’s more, it’s big business that, under the cloak of the provision of reproductive services, can be done tax efficiently. Even here in the UK, Marie Stopes has more revenue than Marie Curie Cancer Care — nearly all of it (92.6%) deriving from its ‘charitable activities’, that is, the provision of its services, rather than donations or investment income. As providing abortions and services ancillary thereto qualify as a charitable objective, many abortion providers are organised as tax-efficient NGOs — granted, that is nowhere near the tax-efficiency of a sheer black-market business as Mr Gosnell’s.
It is, then, quite unsurprising that this rather well-funded lobby has immediately leapt to the defence of abortion in face of these vicious attacks on reproductive rights by the inconvenient facts (how dare they!) of the Gosnell case. Indeed while on one hand condemning Mr Gosnell (for which, I suppose, it is fair to give them credit, a basic act of humanity it may be), their contribution to his misdeeds is undeniable. In what is probably one of the more shocking parts of the entire affair, the Philadelphia Department of Health was made aware of Gosnell’s enterprise a number of times. It refused to act because of the policy straitjacket it found itself in after the election of pro-choice Republican Tom Ridge as Governor of Pennsylvania, when, to quote the Grand Jury, “officials concluded that inspections would be “putting a barrier up to women” seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay.” The language is straight out of the policy documents and press releases carefully drafted by the abortion lobby to persuade lawmakers that even exercising a degree of oversight of abortion facilities on par with that of, say, beauty parlours and massage therapists, would erect barriers to women exercising their constitutional rights to get rid of whatever is growing in their womb as they damn well please. Since, of course, we know that due to those inconvenient regular inspections, no women ever visit beauty parlours and massage therapists.
In a quite astonishing display of chutzpah — “that quality,” to quote the eminent lexicographer of Yiddish Leo Rosten, that is “enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan” –, the abortion lobby has decided that beyond Mr Gosnell, everything is, unsurprisingly, the pro-lifers’ fault. Indeed in the kind of thoughtful and restrained commentary on complex issues that they are known for, Feministing called one of the earliest revelations of the Gosnell affair “anti-choice bullshit”, explaining that it was the very existence of a gestational age restriction on abortion that led to Gosnell. The meme is resurrected to carry on defending the wider-ranging allegations against the abortion business by Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America, arguing that Gosnell’s clinic was a peek into the world before Roe v. Wade. Where this explanation breaks down is the economics of the abortion business. For one, Mr Gosnell was no back-alley abortionist. He advertised his services quite overtly (well, as much as the usual obfuscatory language of ‘reproductive health’ can be regarded to be overt), and nobody was under any illusions as to what he did. The Grand Jury report does not once in its over 200 pages mention that a secret knock on the door or a secret handshake was required to obtain abortion services. You don’t perform up to a thousand abortions per year and make the salary of a Wall Street fat cat by secretly practising illegal abortions. More importantly, however, the argument ignores the facts that led to Gosnell — not illegality, but indeed pro-choice policies were the reasons that kept Gosnell’s operation under the radar. A liberalisation of abortion laws would merely increase the pressure on public health authorities to inspect abortion facilities with eyes wide shut, lest they be accused of ‘anti-choice bullshit’.
In a nation that is consuming itself in a bonfire of envy, what may well come to condemn Mr Gosnell are not his horrific misdeeds, but the profits he made. Mr Gosnell’s annual income, estimated at $1.8m, was over 90 times the meagre $19,765 that a household earned in his impoverished Mantua neighbourhood. He charged between $1,500 to $3,000 for an abortion — between seven to fifteen per cent. of the household income of the women he preyed on. Gosnell was not merely a monster, he was a predator, preying on the poor with impunity while giving preferential treatment to white middle class females from the suburbs. He exploited misery, doubt, uncertainty, fear, anguish and the shock of an unexpected pregnancy. The raw materials of abortionomics aren’t secrecy and illegality — it feeds on vulnerable people, and wherever gestational age limits and other fictitious margins of personhood are set, there will always be desperate, scared, poor, uneducated people for monsters to prey on. This is so whether they operate the kind of vulture business Gosnell did, or seek to profit from one of the more established fronts for the abortion industry.
Perhaps I forgot to mention abortionomics also comes with free legal insurance: despite netting six times the annual average for an OB/GYN six years post-qualification, and on average 3-4 times the annual average for an OB/GYN providing ‘legitimate’ abortion services, as well as owning 17 properties, Mr Gosnell has asked for a public defender (which, thankfully for the sake of whatever little the great State of Pennsylvania has left of its dignity in this matter, was denied). Frankly, I am only surprised the big money in the abortion business hasn’t done a whip-round to hire him one.