It could be weeks until a jury decides Gosnell’s fate, but for some of the teary-eyed witnesses in the Kermit Gosnell trial, they’re already living with a life sentence of regret. Many will never recover from what they saw inside those brick walls–or the role they played in the nightmare. Whatever the judge decides, there is no escaping their personal prison of memories of babies softly whimpering or their tiny chests moving up and down.
For Kareema Cross, one of Gosnell’s younger employees, the images are still haunting. A mother now, she told the court that she left her job after having her own child and tried reporting Gosnell to authorities. During her time on Lancaster Street, she testified that she saw 10 babies born alive before they were killed. “Did you ever see those babies move?” the Assistant District Attorney asked. “Yes,” Kareema said, “once in the toilet.” The baby was “swimming,” she responded quietly, “basically trying to get out.”
Her story echoed through the courtroom, where the clinic’s filthy furniture was on display. Conditions were “so terrible,” Latosha Lewis remembers, that she “handled patient charts with gloves because of the amount of blood and other bodily fluids on them.” If only patients could have taken the same precautions from the foul environment. According to Lewis, Gosnell reused curettes after abortions, the sharp-ended tube that penetrates the womb and helps suctions out tissue. Lewis said that several women who had abortions came back to the clinic suffering from sexually transmitted diseases they caught from the dirty instruments.
Some patients never experienced the curettes, because workers had given them a heavy dose of Cytotec instead. The drug, which sped up contractions and made them more excruciating, usually “left abortion patients cramping and in pain before spontaneously aborting on the floor and in toilets,” Lewis recounted. Later, some of those same remains would be washed down a drain and ground in the garbage disposal. These are the harrowing stories the defense will have to overcome, starting next Monday when an attorney will try to repair the damage done by gruesome photographs and eye-witness accounts.
And while the prosecution rests–the pro-life forces in other states refuse to. Spurred on by what many have heard or read about the clinic, leaders are moving at a frantic pace to stop the Gosnells in their states from preying on future victims. State house after state house made news this week by putting tighter protections in place for vulnerable mothers and children. Ensuring his state’s place in the pro-life elite, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) signed his name to a measure that would ban abortions at the moment–20 weeks–when unborn children can suffer pain.
In Florida, the legislature raced into action, voting unanimously to stop monsters like Gosnell from murdering babies born alive. With stunning support, 119-0, the bill (HR 1129) now heads to the Florida Senate. And the Sunshine State wasn’t done yet. It followed up the vote by pushing a measure out of the House that would make it a separate crime to kill an unborn child along with its pregnant mother. Under this proposal, the term “unborn child” would include babies at any stage of development (unlike the current law, which only charges people with a separate crime if the child is far enough along to survive outside the womb.) Another bill on the fast track would not only ban sex- or race-selection abortion, but make it a third-degree felony.
The Buckeye state also got moving on a full slate of pro-life bills, including a new budget proposal that would defund Planned Parenthood and redirect that money to pregnancy resource centers (which, unlike Cecile Richards’s group, can be trusted with taxpayer funds). Equally impressive, Ohio is also pushing forward on a sex education amendment that encourages the abstinence-only approach and bans any liberal sex ed that condones or advocates for “any gateway sexual activity or experiment.” Teachers would also be barred from handing out condoms or partnering with organizations like Planned Parenthood who promote risky sexual activity.
No piece of legislation can bring Gosnell’s victims back to life. But for all of the unspeakable evils he committed, we can resolve one thing: to honor those who died by doing everything in our power to stop it from happening again.
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