On this date in 2009: the death of Karnamaya Mongar

Four years ago today, a 41-year-old Asian immigrant went to Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia abortion facility to have her advanced-term pregnancy terminated. She died the next day after a drug overdose administered by Gosnell’s staff. Her death led to one of the convictions for which Kermit Gosnell is now in prison.

Her name was Karnamaya Mongar, a married woman, already a mother and grandmother. She came to the United States from a refugee camp in Nepal. Yes, she was determined to abort her child, but she had no reason to expect she’d be drugged to death – a death made inevitable by the inability of emergency responders to get her out of the cluttered building, once Gosnell’s staff finally noticed that Mongar was unresponsive.

Let the grand jury report on Gosnell’s activities speak for itself. The account of Mongar’s death begins on page 6. In part:

Gosnell set up his practice to rely entirely on the untrained actions of his unqualified employees. They administered drugs to induce labor, often causing rapid and painful dilation and contractions. But Gosnell did not like it when women screamed or moaned in his clinic, so the staff was under instruction to sedate them into stupor.

May she and her unnamed child rest in peace. Don’t forget them. Don’t let your legislators and health departments forget them, either.

Lessons from Gosnell: learned, missed, and in progress

Where is New Hampshire, now that the odious Dr. Gosnell awaits sentencing in Pennsylvania? In the dark, mostly. Legislators can change this, although some mighty citizen action might be needed to get the ball rolling. We don’t know how many women choose abortion in New Hampshire. (The Guttmacher/CDC stats are atrocious substitutes for data, relying as they do on voluntary reporting by a limited number of abortion providers.) We don’t know why they choose abortion. We don’t know how many abortions are “early” or “late-term.” We don’t know what the medical protocols are for born-alive babies after attempted abortion. We have no clue whatsoever what is the rate of post-abortion complications for women. We don’t know who’s doing abortions. There is no restriction on who may perform abortion. (None.) We are assured at public hearings that abortion facilities are “licensed,” whatever that means, without being held to the same standards as any other outpatient-surgery facility.

Kermit Gosnell (mug shot following arrest)
Kermit Gosnell (mug shot following arrest)

Ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s negligence on the part of policymakers and public health officials. Time for transparency and serious oversight of the abortion industry. Even a defender of Roe should be able to see that.

Gosnell was operating legally. Don’t overlook that while you’re plowing through the public statements by PP and NARAL since yesterday’s conviction. We can all be appalled about what Gosnell did, and we can all be outraged by the way he and his staff treated women, and we can be outraged by the snipping of born-alive-babies’ necks (although that particular outrage was not expressed universally yesterday). Through it all, remember: he was operating legally, according to the state of Pennsylvania. His butchery was discovered by accident. Despite state policies and abortion regulations, no Pennsylvania official kept Gosnell in line because no Pennsylvania official wanted to look.

What do you want to bet that if Gosnell HAD been inspected, fellow abortion providers would have cried “intimidation!” at the first peep from the inspectors?

And if only Gosnell hadn’t been such a ghoul about keeping babies’ corpses and body parts, he would very likely have escaped prosecution on the premeditated-murder charges.  If the only evidence of the murder of children had been testimony by Gosnell’s staff, his attorneys would have had a field day impeaching those witnesses. The attorneys tried that anyway, even with the sickening physical evidence.

Which brings me to the sobering thought: how many children survive attempted abortion and are born alive? We don’t know. What’s the medical protocol for dealing with “the dreaded complication” of a live birth? It may vary from one facility to another. A law on mandatory statistics, even a law with teeth, may be unable to get at that. The medical profession might have too great a stake in Roe to want those children out in the open. In Gosnell’s case, only when outsiders got a look at the corpses did the story come out. That was an off-chance.

I have already seen in some of the Gosnell coverage that some news outlets refer to the dead babies as “fetuses,” despite the fact that they had emerged from the mothers’ bodies. Three convictions for premeditated murder might not settle the issue. This question comes up again and again as I cover the right to life: does getting an abortion entitle a woman to a terminated pregnancy or a dead baby? No, this is not a matter between “a woman, her family, and her doctor,” as the saying goes – at least I don’t think it is. Will an abortion provider even have to note that a baby was born alive, if the mother is undergoing an abortion? Not unless the “protocols” say so.  After all, if the fetus isn’t “born,” it’s not a person, and homicide laws would not apply. Was that Gosnell’s rationalization for snipping the infants’ spinal cords?

This wouldn’t be the first time Roe made a hash of science. Still think pregnancy begins at conception? Union of sperm and egg? How very seventies of you. Implantation: that’s the ticket. Presto: “emergency contraception” has been declared non-abortive, along with anything else that inhibits implantation. Justice Blackmun would be proud. He was  afraid when he wrote Roe that medical science might declare when life begins, thus undermining the whole “trimester” framework. Not to worry. Medical science has its finger to the political winds.

The “providers” are not likely to come forward about their own acts, if they are “terminating” abortion survivors. It will be left to the witnesses, allied health professionals, to testify to what they see.

Medical protocols will not come to light readily. Ask New Hampshire Right to Life what it takes to get Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to turn over its medical operations manual. (More about that another time.)

Don’t think that serious regulation will come easily. NARAL, PP, and their apologists blame pro-lifers for Gosnell. Seriously. Pennsylvania’s abortion regulations are to blame, they say.


Did a 24-hour waiting period, required under Pennsylvania law, kill Karnamaya Mongar? No. Kermit Gosnell did. The drug overdose that killed her was not forced on her by any 24-hour wait. “Involuntary manslaughter,” said the jury. Her family is taking civil action against Gosnell. Good luck to them.

Did a ban on abortions post-24-weeks “force” women to Gosnell? No. By the way, Gosnell operated with the knowledge of other abortion providers in the area, including PP of Southeastern Pennsylvania. If anyone from that PP office had concerns about Gosnell doing late-term work, she didn’t advise anyone at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Hmmm.

Did Pennsylvania’s abortion regulations cause all the carnage? No. There is plenty of blame to go around, but not to the people who fought for the regulations, even if they only exist on paper as abortion providers would prefer. Republican former Governor Tom Ridge discontinued regular inspections of abortion facilities. Workers at Gosnell‘s facility kept quiet for years. Medical providers who found themselves taking care of women harmed at the Gosnell facility did not make enough of a fuss for health authorities to take notice.

Gosnell’s crimes did not consist principally in the filth of his office. If he had kept a clean place, the snipped babies would still be dead. We’d just be less likely to know about them. A tidy facility wouldn’t have helped Karnamaya Mongar survive a drug overdose. Declaring Gosnell an outlier, as abortion advocates have done, means nothing if it is only an admonition to maintain good housekeeping.

So much room for improvement, for the women, for their children. Until New Hampshire moves past housekeeping concerns and deals with abortion itself, Gosnell has taught us nothing.

Today: NARAL blames pro-lifers for Gosnell. Please share and re-post.

“Gosnell trial should sound alarm.” Yes, it should. But consider the source of that headline: today’s Blog for Choice entry by NARAL Pro-Choice America, which has an affiliate in New Hampshire.

Late to the event, abortion advocates are making up for lost time on the Gosnell case by fabricating a narrative that “anti-choice” forces (that’s Newspeak for “pro-life”) are to blame for Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s work in Philadelphia. NARAL’s entire blog post is available for your edification and astonishment at the link in the previous paragraph. A few choice extracts:

  • “We may never know why Gosnell preyed on women and put their lives at risk. But what we do know is why women would turn to someone like him instead of a reputable provider elsewhere: anti-choice politics have put safe, affordable, legal abortion care out of reach for many women.”
  • “One woman said she turned to Gosnell because the anti-choice protesters outside Planned Parenthood were too intimidating.”
  • “The horrific conditions in Gosnell’s clinic are an example of what happens to women and our basic dignity when abortion isn’t available through safe and legal providers. It is why we fight every day.”

Here is what NARAL did NOT mention about Gosnell in today’s press release/blog post:

  • He is on trial for killing a woman named Karnamaya Mongar. NARAL did not mention her name or the fact that Gosnell is on trial for her murder.
  • He is on trial for the murders of seven children who survived abortion.
  • He is on trial, period.

About “safe and legal providers”:

  • NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire has sent a lobbyist to every hearing in New Hampshire in recent years on bills to require reporting of abortion statistics, establish genuine informed consent, and require increased scrutiny of abortion providers. We are supposed to accept providers’ claims of “safe” at face value.
  • Gosnell’s facility had protesters outside, when it was operating, so NARAL’s report about “anti-choice protesters” serving to discourage women doesn’t hold water. (Source: 3801lancaster.com)
  • In New Hampshire, the abortion providers who send lobbyists to Concord claim that their facilities do not do late-term abortions (Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Concord Feminist Health Center, Lovering Health Center). For the abortions they do provide, the cost goes up as pregnancy becomes more advanced and abortion becomes more complicated. It makes gruesome sense that Gosnell would charge more, since he did late-term abortions. That’s the market the abortion industry itself has developed. For late-term work, “affordable” would have to mean “cut-rate.”
  • Gosnell WAS “reputable”, as far as the state of Pennsylvania was concerned. Also, as far as the state was concerned, he was operating “legally.” Women going to him for abortions weren’t likely to know he was a butcher. A woman named Semika Shaw died at his facility in 2002, but that wasn’t enough to prompt a state investigation, nor did it draw attention from abortion lobbyists.
  • Abortion advocates in New Hampshire, and possibly in Gosnell’s Pennsylvania as well, have fought to keep the names of abortion providers anonymous. It will be nearly impossible to hold an abortionist accountable for killing or injuring a woman if she or he is operating under that kind of cloak.

Remember, Gosnell’s butchery was only discovered by law enforcement by accident. Resistance to abortion regulation is what kept his business humming along. NARAL is an integral part of that resistance.

“It is why we fight every day,” as NARAL’s blogger writes. Tell that to the family of Karnamaya Mongar, whose dignity and life were lost at the hands of workers at a facility that was “safe and legal” in the eyes of Pennsylvania lawmakers and health care regulators.

Philly Abortionist’s Trial: No Pro-Life Jurors?

ABC News is reporting that prospective jurors in the trial of Kermit Gosnell are being asked whether they have “qualms” about abortion or the death penalty, with a “yes” answer resulting in dismissal from the case.

Dr. Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, is on trial for the 2009 death of one of his patients, Karnamaya Mongar, following an abortion. He also faces charges in the deaths of seven infants born alive and then killed by having their spinal cords severed.

These are the most serious charges arising from operations at Gosnell’s facility in West Philadelphia. Life News has a summary here of what was discovered by a grand jury investigating Gosnell’s practice. This makes for tough reading. There is no delicate way to describe the treatment women and surviving children experienced at the ill-named “Women’s Medical Society.”