Monday, April 3, 2017

Book Review: Gosnell

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer. 2017. 347 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It wasn't a homicide case--until it was. Originally the authorities weren't investigating murder, or even illegal late-term abortions. They were just trying to bust a prescription drug mill. But they wound up discovering something far worse.

Premise/plot: This true-crime nonfiction book focuses on the investigation, trial, and sentencing of Dr. Kermit Gosnell. It also brings to light the absence of the media's coverage throughout. No one it seems wanted to present abortion in a negative light. Or to be perceived as presenting abortion in anything but a glowing, empowering light. Question one abortion provider's practices--ethics, procedures, philosophies--and who knows what might be the result. Better to err on the side of caution and ignore the story.

The facts, I won't lie, are gory and disturbing. For example, Gosnell's collection of severed baby feet. Scores of jars of baby feet he kept in the office. (These were not part of the case, part of his charges.) Essentially there were several things going on: filthy, unsanitary, unsafe facilities; untrained, paid under the table employees that had no business dispensing medicine, or assisting during abortions, or overseeing patients after the abortions; an illegal side business of dealing out prescriptions for drugs; doing a lot of illegal late-term abortions (anything past twenty-four weeks is illegal in the state he was practicing in.) What should be shocking is that he was purposely, intentionally delivering babies alive and then killing them a minute or two afterwards. He was proud and happy that he was doing a service for the community. He was not treating the born-alive babies with dignity, or respecting their personhood. Waste, unwanted waste, to be put down the garbage disposal, or, to be stuffed in a kitty litter container. His motivation on all counts is money, money, more money.

My thoughts: Everyone should read this one. No matter if you're pro-choice or pro-life or some hazy position in between. I think the story is disturbing but worthy of your time. How should patients--white or black; poor or middle-class, young or old--be treated. What are a patient's rights? And who is looking out for patients best interests? Multiple government agencies or authorities knew about some of the violations--perhaps even most--and did nothing. Not their problem, not their neighborhood. Perhaps a generalization but some truth I think. No one wanted to step in and shut down this clinic. The authors point is even if you discount the babies or fetuses, how can you discount the dangers posed to grown or nearly grown women? No twenty-four waiting period, no counseling, no consultations with the doctor, drugs dispensed before, during, and after ineffectively or incompetently. Sometimes too much, sometimes too little. Also the conditions of the facilities: no working bathrooms, dirty blankets and chairs and floors, fleas everywhere because of the cats who had free range throughout, the repeat use of medical supplies that are one use only, the lack of training of the staff. How can you support women's rights and ignore the horrors of this clinic?

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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