I had received a letter from Gosnell that included a description of the injection procedure doctors can use to kill a fetus.
"The procedure," Gosnell wrote "is entitled Intrauterine Fetal Demise and performed with direct visualization by ultrasound.
"It is an established medical technique, done on the day prior to the abortion."
Death by injection is an established technique in the American justice system, too, done with the same clinical detachment as the procedure Gosnell described in his letter to me.
"The district attorney will be considering many factors," the D.A.'s director of communications, Tasha Jamerson, said in a written answer to my question about the death penalty. Those factors include "the circumstances surrounding the crime, the age of the victims, the number of victims, age of the defendant and Gosnell's background."
All very orderly. If this, then that.
I was reminded of a line from "The Godfather": "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."
My own review of the Grand Jury Report gave me the impression that Gosnell really thought he was just performing a modified D&X (Partial Birth Abortion). (Or at least he had employee Steve Masoff thinking so.) Yeah, he closed the scissors on the baby's spinal cord, rather than opening them in the base of the skull, but if you look at the location of the wound on Baby Boy B's neck, it probably doesn't look all that different from the wound on a baby killed by D&X. And as for the baby's location and the timing of the "snip"? Well, logically and morally, how much difference can a few inches of distance and a few seconds in time make? Can a few inches and a few moments really spell the difference between helping a woman to exercise her Constitutionally-protected reproductive rights and the commission of a capital crime?
When the PBA ban was passed, Gosnell tried to switch to the post-ban lethal injection favored by LeRoy Carhart. But he wasn't any good at it, so he went back to his own preferred method, probably thinking that he was, at worst, just guilty of violating the PBA ban, using an unauthorized method to perform a procedure his fellow abortionists -- all the way up through the ranks of the National Abortion Federation -- considered a boon to humanity. D&X pioneer Martin Haskell got a round of applause from his fellow abortionists when he played a video of himself performing the procedure at a NAF seminar.
George Tiller was blatantly performing third-trimester abortions that were clearly in violation of Kansas law, and got away with it because the political climate favored abortion rights. Gosnell probably figured he was no different from Tiller. The woman pays her money, the doctor gives her the desired dead baby. And the powers that be give a nod and a wink and blandly assure the public that they should move along, there's nothing to see here.
Why should Gosnell figure he'd get in any serious trouble?
And judging from the fact that a National Abortion Federation member clinic was allowing him to start these abortions on-site -- and God alone knows what other supposedly reputable clinics were referring women to him -- Gosnell was getting, on all sides, every evidence of approval. Nobody -- at least nobody who really mattered politically -- seemed to have any problem at all with what he was doing.
As somebody who has studied abortion intensely and followed it closely for over a quarter of a century, I can honestly say that the only thing I've found surprising as this all unfolds is that so many people in the usually tolerant classes are suddenly taking it all so seriously. And I'm sure Kermit Gosnell is just as surprised -- but not, of course, nearly as pleased.