After a mighty struggle, the film, Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer, finally opened in movie theaters nationwide on Oct. 12.
Like the effort to prosecute a real-life monster, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the effort to make the movie was hindered at every turn because the Left studiously avoids doing anything that might call into question abortion on demand, its holiest of sacraments. Indeed, support for unrestricted access to abortion unites the entire Left, from labor unions to Alinskyite community organizations to environmentalist groups to race-baiting legal defense funds. Come down against it, and you’re an outcast with no future, as former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), once an ardent pro-lifer, painfully discovered before he switched sides.
The abortion issue is the glue that holds the Left together.
At first, left-wingers enforce silence. When that no longer works, they lie and carry out character-assassination campaigns against those who speak the truth.
Even when the abortion titans of Planned Parenthood have been caught red-handed trafficking in the body parts of aborted babies for profit –a federal crime— they have tried to explain things away.
Undercover video journalists for the Center for Medical Progress demonstrated that Planned Parenthood, supposedly a nonprofit organization, sold parts of aborted babies to research firms, which then re-sold the parts at significant markups. Instead of prosecuting the wrongdoers, California went after the journalists as the Obama administration pretended nothing was wrong.
The recent blow-up by the Left over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was driven largely, if not exclusively, by the fear that the new high court appointee is an abortion skeptic who may impose even the slightest restrictions on abortion. This is why Kavanaugh critics tried, and very nearly succeeded, in destroying him and keeping him off the Supreme Court.
Not surprisingly, Facebook and NPR refused to carry ads for the movie. Kickstarter refused to allow its crowd-funding site to be used to raise funds for the production, although its competitor, Indiegogo, accepted the campaign.
The movie, directed by Nick Searcy and co-produced by right-of-center citizen journalists Phelim McAleer and his wife Ann McElhinney, is an unflinching look at the illicit career of Gosnell who in 2013 was convicted of murdering three newborn infants who survived exiting their mothers’ bodies at his filthy, abbatoir-like abortion and illegal prescription-writing mill in Philadelphia. When babies were born alive, Gosnell would use scissors to sever their spinal cords in a practice known euphemistically around his office as “snipping.” He was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of patient Karnamaya Mongar, who died from a lethal dose of incompetently administered anesthesia. In addition, Gosnell was convicted of 21 counts of felony late-term abortion and 211 counts of violating a 24-hour informed consent law. In exchange for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania agreeing not to seek the death penalty, Gosnell agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Unlike his victims, he got off easy.
The Philadelphia grand jury that indicted Gosnell produced a lengthy report in which its members condemned public officials involved in the case. (The January 2011 report from the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia is available here.)
Grand jurors found that “very few” employees of the state and local health departments and the Board of Medicine “came even close to fulfilling” their duties. “These people seemed oblivious to the connection between their dereliction and the deaths and injuries that Gosnell inflicted under their watch.”
Attorneys for the Pennsylvania Department of Health “were encouraged to misinterpret laws so that the department could evade its duty to protect public health,” and the department’s “employees were only too glad to go along with the charade.”
“The prosecutors for the Board of Medicine, who are charged with sanctioning bad doctors, appeared determined not to discipline even one of the worst doctors in the region,” according to the report.
Numerous city health department employees went about their jobs going in and out of Gosnell’s clinic, performing some particular task to promote public health, while ignoring the most squalid, unsafe conditions imaginable in a Philadelphia health care facility. One diligent employee, Lori Matijkiw, who reported what she saw, expected her supervisors to do something. They did nothing.
“Those at the top who obviously tolerated, or even encouraged, the inaction” ought to “face strong disciplinary action up to and including termination,” the grand jury recommended.
Yet most Americans know almost nothing about Gosnell or the abortion industry that is protected by politicians from both parties at all levels of government. The mainstream media likes it that way.
McAleer told The Federalist he made the film because the truth about Gosnell had never been told by the media.
We are journalists and film-makers and this is an incredible story. I’ve spent 25 years as an investigative journalist and this is one of the biggest stories I’ve ever worked on and it went largely unreported. This is a true story that was not reported on by the mainstream media in a meaningful way. There are real victims here whose story deserves to be told and we’ve set out to shine a light on the crimes of Gosnell and how the government allowed him to operate for 17 years without protecting women and children, which is what journalism is supposed to do. We want to tell the truth because it is extremely important that people have the facts before they make a decision‒especially with so many partisan journalists believing they are part of a political movement‒not reporting the facts as they are supposed to do.
It wasn’t just Democrats in Philadelphia’s political establishment who let Gosnell get away with murder for years.
In 1995, Tom Ridge, who after 9/11 became the first Homeland Security Secretary, was elected governor of Pennsylvania as a pro-choice Republican. Upon taking office, he promptly ordered that annual inspections of abortion clinics be ended, McAleer explains.
This allowed Gosnell’s clinic, which had already been flagged for serious violations and health hazards, to remain in business without fear of pesky future inspections. This gave Gosnell a kind of de facto legal immunity. This kind of thing happens around the country nowadays as abortionists operate with virtual impunity, knowing they will never be held to account.
Investigators believe that over three decades Gosnell may have killed hundreds or even thousands of infants, McAleer says, likely making him the most prolific serial killer in American history.
In the early phase of Gosnell’s trial, the media ignored the proceedings. Only once it was well underway did they become interested as writers like Michelle Malkin began covering it.
The movie tells the story through the eyes of TV’s “Superman,” actor Dean Cain, from “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” who plays a police officer, and Sarah Jane Morris, who plays an assistant district attorney. Both are parents who consider themselves pro-choice. Cain and investigators, who are looking for drug-related crimes, stumble upon the abortion factory and pill mill run by Gosnell, portrayed ably and with the perfect degree of creepiness by Earl Billings.
When Cain and a team of feds raid the clinic, it is obvious from the start that something is wrong. Garbage is everywhere and a foul stench pervades the air. Aborted fetusus are stored in red medical waste bags everywhere as Billings claims to be involved in a dispute with the waste management company. There are severed babies’ feet kept in sample jars. When a patient is discovered to be “in distress,” a frumpy public health official runs to keep investigators away from her and scowls at the police as she closes the examination room door. A raid at the doctor’s home is just as horrifying, complete with garbage strewn everywhere and a long-dead cat in the basement. Convinced he’s done nothing wrong, Billings goes about his day making breakfast and playing the piano. A box under his bed is discovered filled with wads of cash and documents detailing his extensive real estate holdings.
Evidence of the “snippings” at the clinic surface and eventually the Gosnell character is arrested and zealously defended by the film’s director, Nick Searcy, who plays his attorney.
Overall, this police-procedural film is compelling, but at times the movie inexplicably pulls its punches. The main way it does this is by avoiding gore altogether. This mutes its impact and blunts its message. It didn’t need to be The Silence of the Lambs (1991) even though Gosnell does resemble the serial killer character “Buffalo Bill” in some ways. Both were driven, manipulative, men and terrible housekeepers obsessed with exotic animals that they treated better than people.
But a little bit of blood can move mountains. Florida retired its electric chair after post-mortem photos aired of the otherwise wholly unsympathetic Allen Lee Davis, electrocuted in 1999 for brutally murdering a woman and her two young daughters. Photos showing the bright red splotch of blood on the bright white shirt he wore in the chair outraged people, even though medical experts say Davis, who was taking blood thinners for a medical condition, appeared to have started bleeding before electricity was applied to his body. In other words, a nosebleed forced Florida to change how it put convicted murderers to death.
But in the movie we never hear the sickening crack of a baby’s spine as Gosnell barbarically severs it with scissors outside its mother’s body. The moviemakers make a point of not showing the audience a photo of the victim known as Baby Boy A, instead allowing us to watch close-up as jurors at the trial get physically uncomfortable in their chairs as a prosecutor shows them an enlarged photo of the baby’s dead body. The technique here may be effective, but it doesn’t make up for what amounts to the sanitization of Gosnell’s behavior that occurs by not showing us and letting us hear his evil deeds.
During the closing credits moviegoers are urged to visit the movie’s promotional website to view the Baby Boy A photo, which is accompanied by this disclaimer: "Please note: the graphic nature of this photo is not reflective of the content of this motion picture." The photo is certainly upsetting but it doesn’t show much, if any, blood. It disturbs because it shows a large, well-developed infant who didn’t deserve to have his life snuffed out in a seedy abortionist’s cat feces-covered house of horrors.
Not showing any gore from Gosnell’s savage crimes is a calculated risk by the movie’s producers, who use the non-explicit nature of the movie as a selling point to get parents to bring their children to the theater. Although it is a good movie, it could have been so much more than a feature-length episode of TV’s “Law and Order.”
Let’s hope the producers’ gamble pays off.
The infanticide practiced by Gosnell and his many imitators throughout the Planned Parenthood community, as well as the criminal complicity of the Left, should not go unpunished.
Get up and go see this movie now.