The Kermit Gosnell House of Horrors

“We think the reason no one acted is…because the victims were infants without identities.”

~Report of the Grand Jury on Kermit Gosnell

In February 2010, state and federal authorities raided Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s clinic, the Women’s Medical Society in Philadelphia. This followed a major investigation into illegal drug prescriptions. They found the most terrible, unsanitary and horrific conditions that they had ever encountered in a supposed medical facility. There were even rows of jars with the severed feet of dead preborn children, as if the jars showcased trophies. It was a late-term abortion clinic.



Kermit Gosnell Convicted

In Pennsylvania, late-term abortion is allowed up to twenty-four weeks. Gosnell performed late-term abortions within and beyond the limit. When babies survived abortion, Gosnell and his staff cut their neck cords to kill them. At least one woman died after being administered a high dosage of drugs to induce abortion. Her child, nineteen weeks old, also died. There were other findings as well: for example, Gosnell performed an abortion on an adolescent girl who was pregnant due to rape. She told Gosnell that she changed her mind while lying on the table, to which Gosnell responded angrily: “Stop being a little baby,” and proceeded with the abortion.

In January 2011, the grand jury report for the criminal case was issued, finding that Gosnell, as well as clinic employees, could be indicted. In May 2013, Gosnell was found guilty of one count of involuntary manslaughter of the pregnant woman, and three counts of first-degree murder of three babies who were murdered after surviving abortion. That was on top of other counts related to the clinic practice. Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.


Gosnell’s Perspective on His Crimes

Regarding the criminal case against him, Gosnell was cited as saying to a journalist: “My work to the community is of value.”

His view was that abortion has a societal “value” that would, inevitably, prevail over morality and science. Gosnell also said to another journalist:

My particular bias is often, I think, that women make this difficult decision and are courageous in doing so because they risk their future fertility. And I think that their courageousness has to do with making a decision that’s best for them as well as for our society. That to me is a very, very important issue, the concept of relative errors. When you’re in a situation where there’s no good answer, sometimes you have to take the answer that is less offensive, that is less traumatic, that is less expensive for you in the long term.

The authors of a book on the criminal case interviewed Gosnell in prison, and recounted:

Kermit Gosnell, the notorious abortionist serving a life sentence…is convinced he was only convicted because the top three cops investigating his claim are practicing Roman Catholics.…The men “were motivated by strong moral objectives rather than the law,” Gosnell…said.

When asked how he is coping in prison, Gosnell replied: “It helps that I very strongly believe myself to be innocent of the heinous crimes of which I am accused…I continue to feel optimistic of the eventual outcome…the vindication of what I’ve done, why I’ve done it and how [it] will become accepted within my lifetime.”


Was Dr. Gosnell Crazy?

Honorable Judge Benjamin Lerner, who presided over the Gosnell case in the Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania, described Kermit Gosnell as a “charismatic sociopath.” A sociopath, by definition, is a person with “a pattern of antisocial behaviors and attitudes, including manipulation, deceit, aggression, and a lack of empathy for others.” Gosnell, a father of six children from three marriages presented an attitude of detachment and coldness in regard to the criminal accusations. These are the respective observations made by a court journalist, a juror, and a police case investigator, of Gosnell during the court proceedings:

  1. “His attitude in court is…bizarre and…difficult to understand.”
  2. “He just kind of sat back, smirked a lot, when people said something negative about him, (his attitude was dismissive, like) ‘who do you think you are.'”
  3. “Every time the doctor would come into the court room, he was always smiling, he was always waving at somebody, he seemed excited to be in a court room.”


The Gosnell Case Exposes Moral Fallacy of Legal Abortion

According to The Federalist:

Gosnell’s defense at trial was to point to the arbitrary legal line between what he did and what the law sanctioned. His attorney argued that even if he had followed proper procedures in a sterile clinic using the most advanced medical equipment to terminate pregnancies, the fundamental moral character of what he was doing wouldn’t change.

That is certainly correct.

In the Gosnell abortion clinic, both doctor and assistants knew that they had to pay attention to the developmental stages of the pre-born child’s life. That is why they often lied to the mothers of the aborted children about the gestational age in order to pretend that the abortion was carried out within the permitted limits. The moral quality of their actions was the same; only their legal status changed.

The legal or illegal practice of an abortion clinic will not eliminate the grave emotional and physical dangers of abortion, to which a woman is exposed. Nor will it eliminate the scientific fact that a child has been murdered. As part of the state investigation in gathering evidence for the criminal case against Gosnell, videos were taken of the areas of the abortion clinic; one of the video cameras captured a ghoulish sign that hung near the archives area which read: “We got rid of the kids…the Dog was allergic!”

kermit gosnell

Image courtesy of

Even so, the media coverage of the criminal case against Gosnell was reduced to the social outrage that Gosnell had crossed the line laid out in the written law. For the pro-abortion movement, the abortion “law of terror” against preborn children could continue, but rules are rules that must be followed.


A Law Empty of Morality

The Gosnell case is a horrifying example of positivist law in action. He was convicted not because his actions were evil, but because some of his evil actions happened to also be illegal. Positivist law rejects the validity of natural law or moral law.

German Law, during the Weimar Republic in the country, prior to the Nazi regime, had begun to incorporate the notion of positivism:

Legal thinking in the days of the [German] empire was dominated by a rigid theory of positivism that was supposedly free of all partisan taint and that claimed to have liberated the law “from the chains of doctrinaire politics.”…Its main proponents, however, were well aware of the political significance of their theory….and propagated a “value-free” system of legal tenets.…By implication, even the most heinous crimes were not punishable by law if they were committed in the interest of the state.1


Moral Truths Supported by Science

As a legal philosophy not based on the fulness of truth, positivism even fails to follow up on its premise that only sensorial science is a basis for law. Positivist abortion advocates suppresses science when it gets in the way of their goal.

Since sensorial science provides a high degree of knowledge, the life of the unborn child in the womb ought to be studied and evaluated by scientists. If they are honest, this must lead them to ban abortion because of the light it shines on pre-born humanity. Ultrasound and fetal surgery make it undeniably clear that human life begins at conception. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, the late former abortionist who converted to the Catholic faith, once said:

When I…became chief of obstetrical services at St. Luke’s Hospital, I had for the first time in years a little time and space to think. I am sure it was no coincidence – the hand of God was present – that at the same time we began moving a marvelous new technology into the hospital. It was ultrasound, which for the first time threw open a window into the womb. We also began to observe the fetal heart on electronic fetal heart monitors. For the first time, I began to think about what we really had been doing at the clinic. Ultrasound opened up a new world. For the first time, we could really see the human fetus, measure it, observe it, watch it, and indeed bond with it and love it. I began to do that.2


The Late-Term Abortion: A Window into a Broken Humanity

From the moment of conception, a human person comes to life. Hence, all abortion is infanticide. The tragedy of late term abortion provides a shocking window into a broken humanity. Abortion destroys a child, whether is it a second old or nine months old.

A pre-born child who dies by abortion is an infant with an identity before God the Creator, who must be acknowledged by all on earth:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

+ Endnotes

[1] Ingo Muller. Hitler’s Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich. London: Tauris, 1991. Pages 8-24.

[2] Bernard Nathanson. The Hand of God. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1996.

Marlene Gillette-Ibern is the legal advisor to HLI Puerto Rico (Guadalupe Center for Life and Family).


  1. Lyn on November 23, 2022 at 12:11 AM

    Now our governments are making it legal/ have in many place to do just what Gosnell did. How far we’ve fallen.

  2. Sharon Wills on December 2, 2020 at 4:08 AM

    Dear heavenly Father,

    Somewhere in the often-uncaring attitude of this world, a soul is being called unto life at this very moment. I pray this child will be a welcomed addition to Your human beings and consecrated to Your sacred heart from the outset of existence until the time of their natural death. In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray, Amen.

  3. Deacon Wayne Lickteig on October 15, 2020 at 5:50 PM

    Your article was excellent. Please send me any future articles also.

    • HLI Staff on October 16, 2020 at 12:57 PM

      Thank you for reading and for your kind words, Deacon. Will do! We are happy to send future articles to you.

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