Missed Chances to Shut Philadelphia Abortion Clinic Abounded

Johnnie Mae Smith, 61, mother of Marie Smith who sued Dr. Kermit Gosnell after a botched abortion, looks at a newspaper with Gosnell's photo on it during an interview with the Associated Press in Philadelphia Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women at the Women's Medical Society, was charged Wednesday Jan. 19, 2011, with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)  MATT ROURKE

Johnnie Mae Smith, 61, mother of Marie Smith who sued Dr. Kermit Gosnell after a botched abortion, looks at a newspaper with Gosnell’s photo on it during an interview with the Associated Press in Philadelphia Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011. Abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who catered to minorities, immigrants and poor women at the Women’s Medical Society, was charged Wednesday Jan. 19, 2011, with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

PHILADELPHIA — A lack of follow-up on reports of venereal disease, political sensitivities and unfulfilled promises made to health inspectors all added up to missed chances to stop a doctor from performing illegal abortions that killed at least two patients and hundreds of newborns, prosecutors said.

The indictment of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69 — a family practice physician not certified to perform abortions — details allegations of a litany of failures in upholding even the most basic public health guidelines. Gosnell was arraigned Thursday on charges of murdering eight babies and one patient.

Authorities allege that Gosnell and a fleet of undertrained — sometimes untrained — workers ran a ghoulish operation in Philadelphia in which labor was induced in very late-term pregnancies with unsanitary equipment, the viable babies born alive and killed with scissors to the spine, and their body parts left in jars — or clogging plumbing into which unattended women had given birth.

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