Kermit Gosnell, convicted of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and more than 200 counts of violating Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act for his stomach-churning abortion clinic, is now a poet. The infamous doctor is trying to convince the world of his innocence through verse, according to a new interview with Philadelphia magazine journalist Steve Volk. Gosnell sent the writer 12 letters, more than 50 emails, dozens of phone calls, and "several" poems over the summer as fodder for a long profile. And, well, the poetry is awful.
Putting aside his technical weaknesses as a poet, the man's reframing of his own crimes as some sort of noble act — one worthy of jail cell poetry — makes even the short sample available below about as painful to read as the lines from Douglas Adams's Vogons:
Are Labeled Killers!
Not Physicians, Oathed To Heal
Lest We Forget,
What Chance Have Those?
Those Without The Support
Of Their Parents
Their Societies …
Without Sufficient Support
Stumble Into Drugs
Into Mental Illness
Into Institutions … And …
Languish in Jails …
Gosnell also told Volk that he believes his conviction was the result of a religious conspiracy: “ Were you aware that Seth [Williams, Philadelphia’s district attorney] was an altar boy? " he said, adding, "Did you know of the strong Catholic presence in the homicide division?” And as evidenced by his poetry, that he believed he was fighting a "war against poverty." He said:
In an ideal world, we’d have no need for abortion. But bringing a child into the world when it cannot be provided for, that there are not sufficient systems to support, is a greater sin. I considered myself to be in a war against poverty, and I feel comfortable with the things I did and the decisions I made.
But Gosnell's decision to proclaim his innocence by invoking a "war on poverty" will do no good for the cause he says he supports. Gosnell was not convicted because he provided abortions to women of little means, although many writers have pointed out that the women who sought his care due to their poverty, probably had no other options. He was jailed because of the deaths of adult patients, for killing babies born alive, and for numerous violations of state law, including state health codes. Over the past few months, anti-abortion activists and legislators have inaccurately portrayed Gosnell as a typical abortion-providing doctor, invoking his case again and again in support of restrictive laws aimed at barring access to abortions and shutting down the facilities that provide them. Despite the deepest wishes of the anti-abortion movement, Gosnell was not a typical doctor. This was a man who kept the feet of fetuses in specimen jars, without any plausible medical reason. This is a man who, after victimizing desperate women, writes his own heroic poetry.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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