Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer is not a book you should read before bedtime. But it is indeed a book you should read.
Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer manage to both grip the reader and utterly horrify them in their retelling of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Officially, he was convicted of three counts of murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter, but his actual death toll is estimated to be in the hundreds, if not thousands. Through a technique described as “snipping,” Gosnell would sever the spinal cords of infants who survived his (illegal) late-term abortions to “ensure fetal demise.”
Imagine the most disgusting place possible–something straight out of an episode of Hoarders, or one of Stephen King’s more twisted works, perhaps. Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia was worse. Through interviews with police officers who initially busted the clinic for being a pill mill, former patients, and former clinic employees, McElhinney and McAleer manage to paint a vivid yet utterly disturbing picture of just how disgusting the conditions were at the office. Dirty, broken equipment. Disposable equipment being re-used. Bloodstains everywhere. Girls getting STDs from procedures. Unqualified staffers administering anesthesia. A pair of cats roaming around freely. Just when you think things can’t get any more disturbing, they somehow do. It’s a miracle more women weren’t killed.
Throughout the book, the major feeling conveyed is a sense of utter despair and confusion that this was allowed to happen for as long as it did. Thanks to regulations that were designed to ensure that women had easy access to safe abortion, the clinic was not inspected for a period of 17 years. Until the police raided the place in 2010 after a tip that Gosnell was supplying drug dealers with opiates, the clinic had last been inspected in 1993. To put things into comparison, nail salons in Pennsylvania are inspected at least every other year. Yet, nobody did anything about Gosnell’s clinic for nearly two decades–even after two women died after their abortions and another came very close to being a third. Nothing.
McElhinney and McAleer do an excellent job of describing the horrors of Gosnell’s crimes without being overly preachy. McElhinney has written about how she had previously been annoyed by pro-life activists, and her writing comes off as about as objective as a person can be when confronted with crimes of this magnitude. The authors do not shy away from graphic descriptions of both the scene and of Gosnell’s victims–even if the reader may prefer they do as such.
It’s important that the utter evil is confronted head on–which in the chapter Media Malpractice, the authors outline how this story was almost swept entirely under the rug. Their effort to correct this wrong culminated in this book, and in their upcoming film.
In short: This is the most disgusting, upsetting, and utterly disturbing book I’ve ever read. Yet, in order to prevent something like this from happening ever again, it’s one that absolutely needs to be read.
Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.
To learn more about how McElhinney and McAleer decided to pursue the Gosnell case, watch Townhall‘s interview with the authors and filmmakers here.