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Gosnell/ In a Philadelphia clinic, late-term abortions were not "safe, legal or rare"

The murder trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell has unveiled the horrific practices of a late-term abortion clinic which were ignored by health authorities and the media until recently

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In January of 2011, the Philadelphia district attorney indicted late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell on eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven infants and a woman, as the New York Times reported on the day after the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision liberalizing abortion.

The grand jury report found that Gosnell's clinic was filthy, with blood on the floor, cat feces and the smell of urine. “Semiconscious women scheduled for abortions were moaning in the waiting room or the recovery room, where they sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets."

Untrained clinic workers, including a 15-year-old, administered sedation and labor-inducing drugs. Forty-five fetuses were found on the premises, some in the refrigerator. Patients contracted venereal diseases from unsterilized instruments. The doctor segregated women by race and treated white women with more deference. A 19-year-old girl, whose uterus was punctured during her abortion, had a partial hysterectomy after being taken away by ambulance. The family of a 22-year-old who died of infection after her abortion, received a $1 million settlement. Another woman was given a fatal dose of Demerol, the incident which finally started the legal proceedings against Dr. Gosnell. Despite numerous complaints, including malpractice suits, there was no official inspection of the clinic for seventeen years.

The doctor is also accused of delivering babies alive, from 24 to 30 weeks of gestation, as testified by clinic workers and a medical student, and cutting their spines at the neck. One clinic worker, who pleaded guilty to his own participation, and who testified he had seen over a hundred babies born and "snipped", stated, "it would rain fetuses." Gosnell was taking in $1.8 million a year in abortions, most of it in cash paid by poor women.

His trial began on March 18th with opening statements with a remarkable absence of press coverage. This was noted first by the new media, including pro-life bloggers, and the GetReligion blog which critiques stories on religious topics in the media. They pointed out that other stories such as that on abortionist George Tiller's murder and even the unfortunate "legitimate rape" comment by Representative Todd Akin were extensively covered for their pro-choice value. Pictures of the empty reserved media seats in the courtroom circulated on the internet.

Mainstream media outlets USA Today and The Atlantic took notice first, and afterward other traditional news publications dispatched a flurry of editorials defending their impartiality, with some criticizing the conservative media of being hypocritical and thin on reporting, and others claiming that it was just a local crime story with no public policy implications. Meanwhile, a Twitter group started a "Break the Gosnell Media Blackout TweetFest" with thousands sending tweets simultaneously with the #Gosnell hashtag.