Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer became a film against all odds. Why? The subject matter is one of the most debated political topics in the nation.
Kermit Gosnell is a former doctor turned abortionist who routinely chose to ignore critical factors in order to ensure his patients’ health. Gosnell escaped accountability for decades in his Philadelphia clinic. Not even the death of a refugee, Karnamaya Mongar, at Gosnell’s hands sparked the investigation that brought a measure of justice to victims. The issue, because of politics, is complex, but what no one can argue with is the horror. The Grand Jury report is public. It’s hard to get through that report.
Nick Searcy, Peabody award-winning actor whose performances in films like Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and series like Justified established him as one of the most talented actors working today, committed to the film after reading the script. Had it not been for Searcy’s advocacy, the film might not have been made.
Producers met with obstacle after obstacle, including one major crowdfunding site balking at language the filmmakers used to describe the film. Indiegogo permitted the filmmakers to use their site to raise funds and it took less than two weeks to raise more than $2 million. Various media including Wikipedia say the crowdfunding effort is one of the highest in terms of funds raised.
One of the most outrageous obstacles was put in place by none other than NPR despite the fact NPR receives federal money for certain purposes. According to ProPublica, a site not considered a conservative publisher, in 2012, “nonprofit broadcast outlets like PBS and NPR, …set to receive $445 million over the next two years.”
NPR, according to filmmakers, allegedly refused to permit filmmakers to purchase messaging because NPR wanted Gosnell to be called a “doctor” instead of “abortionist” or “abortion doctor.”
Regardless of one’s stance on the topic of abortion, there is no doubt in my mind that NPR’s refusal to carry that messaging was a historic moment in obliterating free expression.
At every turn, it seemed, the pop culture establishment both in the politics and entertainment fields fought to keep the Gosnell film from becoming a reality.
The Washington Post, a newspaper with a decidedly far left bent, at first dismissed the Gosnell story as a “local matter.” As facts became known, that stance changed, and one writer at the paper described some of what occurred at the Philadelphia clinic:
“Patients were neglected; providers were not certified; and cats were allowed to roam and defecate in the clinic.
“The walls appeared to be urine-splattered,” the Philadelphia district attorney’s office found when it inspected the clinic in August 2010, months after it had closed that February. “The procedure tables were old and one had a ripped plastic cover. Suction tubing, which was used for abortion procedures – and doubled as the only available suction source for resuscitation – was corroded.”
Meanwhile, the pro-life movement and the pro-abortion movement tangled politically over how Gosnell got away with what he did for so long. Pro-abortion activists claimed if abortion became harder to get, horrors like the Gosnell clinic would increase. What most of those activists could not admit, however, is that abortions were not hard to get. Gosnell’s plus, for those seeking his services, was that he didn’t care whether he was performing a late abortion and his office was convenient to low income women.
Of note is the fact that then-governor Tom Ridge, a Republican who served in the Bush 2 administration, was fingered as one official who allegedly told authorities not to inspect Gosnell’s clinic.
Information from the official report is appalling. An example of Gosnell’s lack of compassion was recounted by one of his staff members. After a baby girl was born at 29.4 weeks—the mother labored for hours and hours—Gosnell “just slit the neck.” The child was viable. [pg. 101] There are more examples if you can stomach reading the official report.
Once the film released, it initially achieved top ten status at the box office. For a crowd-funded indie film, that’s historic. Critics steadfastly refused to review it and media largely ignored it.
Now that the film Gosnell is available on DVD, the audience will expand. I ordered the DVD today, and I plan to review it.
For the life of me, I don’t understand why there is lack of compassion for all those patients who suffered (some still are) at the hands of a man who earned the title of ‘doctor’. Political stance on an issue shouldn’t matter when it comes to protecting patients. I believe pure politics created a climate for Gosnell to do what he did. That is a tragedy, and I am glad Nick Searcy and the filmmakers brought this horror story to the public.
To this date we don’t really know how many women were harmed or how many viable babies were murdered by this man. We only know those that law enforcement could find enough evidence to support charges. We don’t have that evidence because Gosnell’s clinic was being inspected. We have it because an investigation was begun around allegations of prescription drug illegalities.
On Facebook, Searcy joked about people sending him a monetary tip for the film. Among his followers, he’s known for his sarcasm and wit.
To date, no public official (to my knowledge) has been cited for malfeasance in regulatory duties regarding the Gosnell case. Gosnell is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes.
Amazon has the Gosnell DVD available for preorder. The link to the DVD is not an affiliate link. Indie Art South will not carry affiliate links from Amazon or Google.
[Featured photo is a still snip from the ‘Gosnell film; gosnellmovie.com]
(Kay B. Day/Jan. 10, 2019)