Dr. Kermit Baron Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist, whose clinic was shut down last night after an investigation discovered “deplorable” conditions including blood on the floor and over a dozen fetuses in jars may have a long history of risky and illegal practices when it comes to abortion.

Dr. Gosnell may have been involved in one of the most infamous and risky cases of illegal abortions in the country’s history.

Dr Tanfer Emin Tunc of Haceteppe University in Turkey wrote a piece which appeared in scholarly journals called “Harvey Karman and the super coil fiasco: A forgotten episode in the history of American abortion technology.” The piece mentioned a Dr Baron Gosnell. I couldn’t find the piece online so I emailed her last night asking her for more information concerning the “fiasco.”

She responded:

Gosnell was the local Philadelphia ob/gyn who assisted Karman with his super coil abortions. Gosnell allowed Karman to use his clinic in
order to perform super coil abortions on a group of women from Chicago
(which resulted in the fiasco to which I refer). It sounds like the
same individual to me.

In 1955 Harvey Karman was a struggling PhD student in California. He wasn’t licensed to practice medicine but that didn’t stop him. Karman was imprisoned for botching an abortion with a nutcracker where the mother died. California Governor Jerry Brown eventually pardoned Karman who, by then, was a pro-abortion celebrity.

Karman invented a PhD for himself from some made up European University and became a shining light in the abortion movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s.

Harvey was so into abortion that he invented new ways of performing them including the “Super Coil” abortion. He was so excited about this that he thought it could be the dawn of a “do-it yourself abortion kit.”

NCBI reports that :

This method utilizes a plastic strip 40 cm long and 4.6 mm wide, wound into a spiral 2 cm in diameter. The coil is straightened and put in an inserter through which it is introduced via the cervical os into the uterus. The method calls for insertion of several coils, and balsa tents may also be placed in the cervical canal. The coils are removed 12-24 hours after insertion, and if the uterine contents are not totally expelled spontaneously, ovum forceps are used to remove them.

Before Karman could popularize his technique he had to show it worked. And he found some willing takers. Real Choice reports:

The government of Bangladesh, along with the International Planned Parenthood Federation, imported Harvey to teach untrained local women in his ME and “super coil” abortions for use on women raped by soldiers. Harvey himself tried a variation of the “super coil” abortion by augmenting the plastic springs with pieces of balsa wood. His complication rate was spectacular, resulting in infections and perforations and nearly killing a large number of his patients. Harvey scuttled back to the United States and looked for more guinea pigs.

When Harvey returned to the states he fell in with the Jane Collective, a criminal abortion business at the time in Chiacgo. When JANE was raided and many members arrested, the group still had to find someone and someplace to perform abortions so they loaded up a group of women in their second trimester and took a bus to Philadelphia.

Enter Dr. Baron Gosnell who had agreed to help perform the second trimester abortions using this incredibly risky and experimental abortion technique – one he’d never even attempted previously. To make matters worse, Karman had called the press for publicity to incite a standoff that would go to court so he could fight to make abortion legal.

But Philadelphia’s District Attorney Arlen Specter who stood by while openly publicized experimental abortions took place. Ironically, pro-choice feminist protesters gathered outside of Gosnell’s illegal abortion clinic and let the air out of the tires of the bus, irate about the experimental abortions taking place.

Meanwhile, Harvey and his associates started packing the women with “super coils.” Outside, the protesters were letting the air out of the bus tires. Keeping sloppy records, working well into the night, the abortion team managed to pack the 15 patients selected for “super coil” abortions by the early morning hours. One woman ended up hospitalized in Pennsylvania due to lacerations. Others needed to be hospitalized upon return to Chicago. Local health authorities contacted the Centers for Disease Control, which investigated and found that two of the patients had been lost to follow-up, one required a hysterectomy, one was hospitalized for twenty days with infection, and one continued to bleed until she became anemic. In total, nine of the 13 patients who could be tracked down had suffered complications.”

Shortly after that illegal abortion debacle abortion laws were liberalized throughout the country. But that didn’t end Gosnell’s problems with the law.

In 1996, Gosnell was charged with “professional misconduct” as well as “censured and reprimanded” by the New York State Department of Health because he “employed a physician assistant who was not certified.”

On November 20th of last year, a woman died from a botched abortion at Gosnell’s clinic. It was not so much the woman’s death but the presence of certain painkillers in her body that seemingly initiated the investigation. Last week, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents searched Gosnell’s clinic in relation to an investigation into illegal distribution of prescription painkillers.

There’s no word yet on what they discovered in relation to the drug investigation but what they saw in the clinic prompted a call to the state which came in and discovered the horror show inside including “blood on the floor, and parts of aborted fetuses were displayed in jars.”

The order to suspend Gosnell’s medical license called “Gosnell’s continued practice of medicine ‘an immediate and clear danger to the public health and safety,'” reports the Inquirer.

John Stanton said the Pro-Life Union of SouthEastern Pennsylvania thanked God that the investigation prompted Gosnell’s suspension. “We’re there every second Saturday,” said Stanton. “We protest outside saying the rosary.”

Recent numbers, according to the Pro-Life Union of Southeastern Pennsylvania, show that Gosnell’s clinic had performed thousands of abortion in recent years.

2004 -1023 abortions.
2005 – 1033 abortions.
2006 – 1365 abortions.
2007- 1292 abortions.
2008- 1041 abortions.

Stanton said he would pray that the state would continue their investigation and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.