Gosnell violated informed consent, wait time laws: witnesses
Philadelphia, PA, April 22, 2013 (OperationRescue) — The jaw-dropping testimony of the prosecution’s final witness in the frightful Kermit Gosnell murder trial overshadowed two other witnesses who testified against the man accused of running a “charnel house” where newborn babies struggling for life were summarily dispatched through virtual “beheadings.”
Former Gosnell employee Kareema Cross testified calmly and sometimes defiantly under defense questioning, of filthy conditions, reused medical equipment that spread venereal diseases from one patient to another, rampant misuse of sedation by poorly educated and unqualified employees, and the cold-hearted severing of spinal cords of babies born alive after late-term abortions that were done well past the legal limit in Pennsylvania.
But the other witnesses also had stories to tell.
Abortion by Pill
Lisa Dungee was a patient at Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society in 2009. She saw unlicensed medical school graduate Eileen O’Neill, who is also standing trial along with her former boss, for an early non-surgical abortion. Dungee testified that she never received counseling prior to her abortion. She admitted that she signed a form indicating that she had been given informed consent 24 hours prior to the abortion, but was adamant that she signed the forms on the same day her abortion began.
“When I came in to the facility, I already had my mind made up about what I wanted to do, so yes, I signed it,” she testified.
Waiting Periods and Informed Consent Violations
Lack of adherence to waiting periods and informed consent laws are common complaints of women receiving abortions at clinics around the country. Operation Rescue has documented a number of incidents of this kind in several states, including Louisiana,Texas, and a particularly harrowing incident in Michigan where a teen was tricked into an abortion when she thought she was being seen for an obstetrical visit for a wanted pregnancy.
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“We see over and over that abortion clinics fail to provide adequate counseling, or deny women information that could cause them to reach a different decision about their pregnancies. In some cases, abortions have been forced on women who did not consent,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “In this respect, Gosnell’s clinic acted no differently than hundreds of other abortion clinics around the country. Authorities rarely discipline or prosecute on violations of informed consent laws, so abortionists have no incentive to abide by them. This is a problem that is rampant in the abortion cartel.”
Unlicensed Practice of Abortion
Dungee testified that she thought O’Neill was a licensed physician because she wore a white coat and had certificates on the wall of her office. No one ever told her that O’Neill held no valid medical license.
According to Dungee, O’Neill gave her one pill to take at the clinic and one pill to take later at home along with a prescription for antibiotics. She said she never saw Gosnell at the clinic, who should have been consulted before drugs were prescribed.
Dungee never returned to O’Neill for her follow-up appointment due to the filthy conditions at the clinic. Instead she saw her own physician for follow-up care. Dungee insisted under oath that O’Neill nor anyone else from the clinic called to see how she was doing, even though O’Neill noted in the records that such a follow-up call had been placed.
“The unlicensed practice of medicine, unqualified staff, failure to provide follow-up care, and falsification of medical records are accusations that are certainly not new to the abortion industry,” said Newman. “We have piles of documentation on each of these abuses.”
California “Shop of Horrors”
In 2009, Bertha Bugarin, owner of a chain of abortion clinics in Southern California pled guilty to illegal abortions and practicing medicine without a license. She was doing abortions with no medical background whatsoever, and hired abortionists who later suffered license revocation. At least two of her abortionists had no medical license, and one of which was a convicted sex offender with a history of raping and molesting abortion patients.
At the time of her arrest, Blanka Rubo of Planned Parenthood in San Diego said, “We think that this really indicates the need for safe, legal abortions. I think that there’s a lot of vulnerable women out there that may be desperate, may be scared…we’re 100% behind the prosecution of this case.”
Abortionists Resist Safety Standards
Yet Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics balk at regulations that would hold abortion clinics to minimum safety standards. In Kansas, where abortion abuses have been recorded that reach Gosnell-like proportions, laws that would require abortion clinics to meet safety standards have languished in court for three years, with no end in sight while unsafe conditions continue, as documented by an Operation Rescue investigation. In Virginia, protests broke out when clinic safety standards were under consideration even though clinics in Virginia regularly endangered women’s lives with their substandard conditions.
“The argument that greater regulation leads to the perpetuation of unsafe clinics is a specious one bordering on the absurd,” said Newman. “Abortion clinics that aren’t required to meet minimum standards always sink to the lowest level, whether was the pre-Roe back alley shops or those today on Main Street. Lack of accountability always results in dirty abortion chop shops that prey on the vulnerable and endanger their lives with shoddy practices.”
Abortionist Don’t Self-Report Illegal Acts
It is true that the vast majority of abortion injuries, health violations, and unsafe practices go on for years undetected, unreported, and if reported, unenforced.
“Abortionists who engage in illegal activity or shoddy practices don’t report them,” said Newman. “That’s why statistics on abortion safety so often quoted by abortion clinics and the Center for Disease Control are unreliable. No one really knows the full scope of horrors that take place every day in this country because most of what goes on in abortion clinics is a carefully guarded secret.”
As for why more women do not come forward and report abortion abuses, Newman also has insight.
“Women are reluctant to report wrongdoing by their abortionists for a number of reasons,” he said. “Some just want to move on. Some fear family members finding out what they did. But perhaps the main reason is that the complaint system is designed to discourage complaints. The process is so onerous that most people are intimidated by it or just don’t understand it, so they give up. When complaints are filed, it can take years to resolve because medical boards operate at a glacial pace. There is great need for reform in the medical complaint process in every state, but bureaucrats are reluctant to make the process easier because it means they would have an increased workload in a time of budget cuts – or worse, they have an interest in protecting abortionists from prosecution.”
Bizarre Defense Theory
Another point of interest in Dungee’s testimony was introduced by O’Neill’s defense attorney, James Berardinelli, who has thus far had few, if any, questions for prosecution witnesses. Berardinelli insisted that since Dungee did not actually expel her four-week baby until 24 hours after she took the first abortion pill, then the 24-hour waiting period had been observed.
“This bizarre theory turns the intent of such laws on its head and shows gross ignorance about how medication abortions work,” said Newman. “The first round pills actually block hormones to trick the body into thinking it is no longer pregnant, and the second round of pills induces contractions that expel the baby. The abortion begins when the first pill is taken, and to say otherwise just isn’t true,” said Newman. “It appears that misdirection and redefinition may be the only defense O’Neill and Gosnell have.”
Witness Testifies O’Neill Lacks “Common Sense”
Bolstering Newman’s observations of the defense’s arguments was testimony from a defense witness, which was presented out of order on Thursday due to scheduling conflicts.
Natalie Tursi was allowed to testify for the defense because she was scheduled for back surgery the following day and would not be available to testify afterwards for medical reasons.
Tursi was a friend of Eileen O’Neill’s who arrived for a visit at her home while she was being interviewed by law enforcement personnel. Tursi also is the on-and-off live-in girlfriend of O’Neill’s brother.
Tursi testified that she arrived at O’Neill’s home and walked into the kitchen where O’Neill and four men were talking. She immediately felt unwelcome, so she retreated to the living room, and later the bathroom due to the “confrontational” nature of the conversation. She testified that she overheard only bits and pieces of the kitchen conversation, but recalled hearing one man tell O’Neill that if she ever wanted to practice medicine or obtain a medical license, “You will be a witness.”
However, upon cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron, Tursi admitted she conveniently did not hear other statements reportedly made by O’Neill to the men, including the admission that she ducked out the back door during the police raid on the clinic in 2010, fearing she would be in trouble since she did not have a license to practice medicine. Cameron also indicated that O’Neill made the statement to law enforcement interviewers that about seventy-five percent of what she did at Gosnell’s clinic was done in Gosnell’s absence, indicating that she had no physician oversight as she conducted the duties of a licensed physician. The conclusion was that Tursi’s memory was selective, at best.
In a surprising moment, Cameron asked if O’Neill had an attorney present during questioning. Tursi indicated that O’Neill did not. She offered that while O’Neill is very book smart, “common-sense wise, I don’t think she has it.”
“You are saying she doesn’t have common sense?” asked Cameron for emphasis.
“No. I’m sorry to say it,” she replied.
Defending the Indefensible
What the defense could possibly do to counter the overwhelming evidence presented to the jury during the first five weeks of trial was a subject of conversation among the reporters present in court Thursday. Some speculated that Gosnell would testify while others thought that unlikely, given the severity of the charges and Gosnell’s own over-exuberance during several interviews given prior to arrest in 2011 after a stinging 281-page Grand Jury indictment. Others wondered who might the stand in his defense.
It may be interesting to see if any abortionist comes forward as an expert witness to support Gosnell’s horrific abortion practices, a prospect that is difficult to imagine, but not out of the realm of possibility.
Most of the abortion industry has backed away from Gosnell, and some have condemned his actions, but the reality is that so many abortion clinics share aspects of Gosnell’s shoddy practices that they may not want the spotlight to shine any further than the walls of Gosnell’s West Philadelphia “House of Horrors.” To do so would be to put the entire abortion cartel on trial in the court of public opinion, where they are acutely aware they simply cannot win.
[Note: Operation Rescue has compiled a collection of documents verifying illegal activity, care standard violations, health code violations, criminal conduct, and other issues related to abortion providers across America. These documents can be viewed atAbortionDocs.org. A vast archive of stories on this topic can be found atOperationRescue.org.]