Masked by innocuous language like “pro-choice” and “reproductive care,” and protected by a media conspiracy of silence, the grim reality of abortion rarely surfaces in our cultural awareness, as it did with the recent undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s moral vacuum. But a new book about the chilling crimes of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, America’s most prolific serial killer, highlights that ugly reality in an even more horrifying but compelling fashion.
Part true-crime investigation, part social commentary, part courtroom drama, and part journey into the banality of evil, Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer was written by investigative journalists and filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer, well-known for their controversial documentaries FrackNation and Not Evil Just Wrong, as well as a play called Ferguson drawn entirely from testimony about the shooting of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson. The husband-and-wife team have also miraculously crowdfunded a feature film based on the Gosnell story (it raised more money than any film project in Indiegogo history), directed by conservative actor and Twitter gadfly Nick Searcy (Justified), with the screenplay written by novelist and political commentator Andrew Klavan.
McElhinney begins the book with a confession that she had “never trusted or liked pro-life activists”; she resented the “emotional manipulation” of their demonstrations – until she began researching the Gosnell story, a process so “brutal” that at times she wept and prayed at her computer, not only over Gosnell’s evil but over “the reality of abortion” even when it’s performed properly and legally. Writing the book changed her dramatically, and it’s not an overstatement to say that reading this book will have the same effect on many readers as well.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell might still be butchering babies today if it weren’t for the dedication of a Philadelphia narcotics investigator named Jim Wood who followed up a lead about Gosnell’s lucrative illegal prescription scheme. The lead led to a raid on Gosnell’s Women’s Medical Society abortion clinic in February, 2010, where investigators discovered shockingly unsanitary conditions and incompetent, untrained assistants, as well as improperly medicated post-abortion patients sleeping or sitting together under bloodstained blankets, a few in need of hospitalization. The procedure room was even filthier. Fetal remains were found throughout, in empty water and milk jugs, cat food containers, and orange juice bottles with the necks cut off. One cupboard held five jars containing baby feet, which Gosnell apparently severed and kept for his own amusement.