By Cheryl Sullenger
I just finished reading Steve Volk’s E-book, “Gosnell Babies: Inside the Mind of America’s Most Notorious Abortionist.” I found Volk’s essay to be an honest account written by a man who is struggling in his own mind over the moral implications of the grisly testimony that those of us in the courtroom endured day after day during Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial in the spring of 2013.
I remember Steve Volk well from my own time in the courtroom and the conversations we had during breaks concerning the morality of abortion in general and the question of whether Gosnell was unique in his field. His quest for truth and personal struggle with the matter of abortion was evident in his 52-page book that revealed insights into Gosnell’s personality gleaned through his interviews with Gosnell over a span of several weeks after his convictions on three counts of first degree murder and hundreds of other crimes.
Volk’s account is troubling, yet answers the question posed most in horrific cases such as this involving the infliction of unspeakable acts of barbarity by one human being upon another: Why?
For Gosnell, he embraced “situational ethics.” The boundaries of right and wrong were relative and dependent upon his own needs. His claims of innocence were based not on the laws that he felt justified in ignoring, but on his own comfort level with his behavior as part of some esoteric “war on poverty.”
But for me, Gosnell’s bizarre justifications and even his poetic ramblings are more convincing evidence that Gosnell suffers from some sort of mental illness. Certainly, I’m no expert, but Gosnell displays behaviors that are more reflective of those of a serial killer than those one would expect to find in a stable, mentally healthy human being.
Kermit Gosnell appears to live in a fantasy world of his own making where he is the lone determiner and controller of the rules of life. Perhaps Gosnell cocooned himself in his fantasy world as a mechanism whereby he could maintain his heroic self-image while avoiding the reality and repercussions of his sick behavior.
The laws of which he was convicted became machinations of pro-life forces that plotted to deprive poor women, who he refers to as the “throwed,” from receiving abortions would reduce crime and poverty. “Catholics” that he believed pervaded the police department and District Attorney’s office were religious bigots that had prejudged him through the filter of their Catholic teachings. He was in a “righteous” war and “they” had won.
Gosnell appears only thinly tethered to reality, if he is even tethered at all. He always believed that he would be completely exonerated, and even now fantasizes about the improbable possibility of withdrawing an agreement he made to drop all appeals in exchange for avoiding the death penalty. He maintains his innocence even though he admits to actions that were violations of the law. In his own mind, he was innocent because those laws simply did not apply to him.
He wonders why he never heard from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Bill Clinton’s Global Initiative, to which he sent proposals and job applications. He believes even now that he is a “fitting person” to teach young people before they embark on medical careers.
Gosnell maintained a disturbingly serene veneer that made him appear relaxed and cordial even under the stress of a murder investigation and trial. His winsome smile throughout the trial and efforts to make eye-contact in order to connect with those of us in the gallery every day could seem manipulative, but may have just been a result of his inability to grasp the gravity of the moment.
There were macabre accounts of his bizarre behavior during the police raid at his ramshackle, squalid abortion clinic and the police search of his home. Volk referred to him as “unflappable.” During the initial raid on his clinic, Gosnell asked permission to feed his turtles then proceeded to attend to a woman in the delivery of a stillborn baby after which he “calmly” sat down to eat his lunch still wearing torn and bloody surgical gloves.
At his home, Gosnell sat down to the piano to entertain the investigators with a Chopin selection while they searched his home for additional bodies, stopping to warn police that his basement, which they were about to search, was infested with fleas. Indeed, Crime Scene Unit officer Bobby Flade donned a Tyvek hazmat suit and descended into the cellar where fleas immediately attacked, “roiling in piles over his shins.”
In fact, GOsnell’s living conditions at his two homes were as bad – if not worse – than his “House of Horrors” clinic. Photos of his bedroom shown during the trial revealed a “hoarder house” appearance with junk and rotten, partially-eaten food piled and strewn everywhere. Volk notes that even high-end belongings, such as designer purses and Viking appliances, were filthy and neglected. The disorder and squalor seemed indicative of the inner working of Gosnell’s mind, according to Volk.
Then there were the feet. Gosnell kept the severed feet of some of the larger babies he aborted floating in liquid in specimen jars. Kareema Cross photographed shelves that she testified held as many as 50 jars of such grisly remains. Gosnell was never able to fully explain why he kept the feet. His excuses that they were to document fetal age were ridiculous and completely unbelievable. The behavior was more likely the keeping victim trophies, something that is well documented as the sick behavior of serial killers.
Gosnell seemed to seek out those for employment whose lives were in even worse disarray than his own. He targeted the undereducated and the mentally ill to work in his clinic, where they became dependent on him and under his control. He eased any concerned they might have had with bold-faced lies about “grandfather clauses” that made it okay for the unqualified to practice medicine. He convinced these workers that the movements of live babies as merely the “reflexes” of “dead” babies that were to be halted with the “snipping” of their spinal cords.
The lies were justified in the same way as he justified the murders; they were for the greater good. Afterall, those of us fortunate enough to have avoided poverty simply cannot understand the “throwed.” In Gosnell’s perverted world, the difficult circumstances faced by poor urban women warranted — even justified — the squalid conditions, the venereal diseases transmitted by dirty and reused disposable tools, drug overdoses, and the murder of their live infants. That, in his mind, was somehow compassionate treatment and work that was beneficial to society in general.
The mental illness theory is supported by a poem written by Gosnell describing the vulnerabilities of abortionists that he believes society misunderstands.
Are Labeled Killers!
Not Physicians, Oathed To Heal
Lest We Forget,
What Chance Have Those?
Those Without The Support
Of Their Parents
Without Sufficient Support
Stumble Into Drugs
Into Mental Illness
Languish In Jails…
While Gosnell considers himself somewhat of a misunderstood intellectual “Renaissance Man,” perhaps “Monster” is a more fitting designation. He remains without remorse, justifying in his mind the squalor and murder as heroic acts that those who are not “throwed” simply cannot comprehend. He continues to justify cold-blooded murder and neglect done without a shred conscience.
What is troubling is that Gosnell isn’t simply describing himself in his self-indulgent poem. He is describing his colleagues as well. Operation Rescue has documented incidents of drug use and crime that is rampant throughout the abortion cartel. We have long suspected mental illness. Gosnell’s poem is somewhat of a confession as well as a verification of our suspicions.
Gosnell laces his justifications with ample doses of pro-abortion rhetoric. It’s frightening to think that those “pro-choice” platitudes justify bad behavior on the part of abortionists everywhere. This reveals a crisis in the abortion industry where criminals, drug addicts, mentally ill men and women subject pregnant women to shockingly low standards hidden behind the inherent respectability that the title of “doctor” evokes.
Apparently Gosnell has begun to study the Bible since his incarceration in Federal Prison, and I pray that his callous heart and twisted mind will somehow be softened by the Gospel and he will experience true repentance and spiritual regeneration. We wish that for all abortionists. But until that time, the world would be a better place if they all joined Gosnell behind bars for the rest of their lives.
Gosnell Babies by Steve Volk is available for download at Amazon.com.