Most people following the grisly story of abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell know of the raid on his abortion clinic, the gruesome abortions-infanticides he performed and even his disgusting habit of saving the bodies of aborted babies.
But what some people may not know is that Gosnell’s abortion practice dates back decades and he once gave a “pro-life” reason to justify the abortions he performed.
He told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper in October 1972: “As a physician, I am very concerned about the sanctity of life. But it is for this precise reason that I provide abortions for women who want and need them.”
Gosnell also indicated in that interview he wouldn’t want to abort his own baby.
“I personally would never agree to have an abortion performed on any woman bearing my child,” Gosnell said at the time.
The newspaper provides more background on Gosnell’s abortion practice at the time the Supreme Court overturned pro-life laws nationwide protecting unborn children.
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It was an era of transition for abortion law. More states were loosening restrictions, foreshadowing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that declared abortion legal up to the point of fetal viability – about 24 weeks. Many states with tough statutes, meanwhile, were in a sort of limbo because of legal challenges; Pennsylvania’s law had been struck down as unconstitutionally vague.
At that time, Gosnell, a 1966 graduate of Jefferson Medical College, said he was doing about 500 abortions a year. That is less than half the number of procedures he does annually now, according to state records.
The 1972 Inquirer article said Gosnell was a “respected man” in his community, a finalist for the Junior Chamber of Commerce’s “Young Philadelphian of the Year” because of his work directing the Mantua Halfway House, a rehab clinic for drug addicts. (By the late 1980s, public records show, state tax liens were piling up against the halfway house, and the abortion clinic had a $41,000 federal tax lien.)
Gosnell was also known in the world of abortion-rights activists. Then and now, he advertised his willingness to perform abortions beyond the 12-week limit set by most clinics.