Another Gosnell? Texas doctor under scrutiny

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Evidence provided by former workers at a Texas abortion clinic may support what pro-life advocates have been asserting -- Kermit Gosnell is not alone.

"It's just corroboration of what pro-lifers, activists in particular, have always maintained."-– Jill Stanek
Douglas Karpen, a Houston abortion doctor, has regularly killed babies after their late-term deliveries at his clinic, according to eyewitness testimony from three of his former employees. Their descriptions on video of some of those killings outside the womb are at least as gruesome as those of the slayings by Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion doctor who was convicted May 13 of first-degree murder in the post-delivery deaths of three infants.

In the video released May 14, the former workers describe deaths of born-alive babies that involved the doctor twisting babies' heads off their necks, stabbing instruments into their stomachs or the soft spots of their heads, inserting his finger through babies' throats and severing their spinal cords.

Gosnell, who has been sentenced to three life sentences without parole, killed hundreds of children at least six months into gestation after induced delivery by a technique he called "snipping," according to a grand jury report. "Snipping" involved jabbing scissors into the back of a living baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord.

The new report on Karpen helps buttress the contention by pro-lifers that Gosnell is not an aberration. While abortion-rights advocates have asserted Gosnell is an anomaly, pro-life leaders have said he is among an uncertain number of abortion doctors in the United States who are killing born-alive infants or allowing them to die without medical care.

In addition, they also have asserted Gosnell is one of an unknown number of doctors who are performing illegal, late-term abortions of healthy, unborn babies for healthy mothers, sometimes under unsanitary, unsafe conditions for the women.

"It's just corroboration of what pro-lifers, activists in particular, have always maintained; we've known," popular pro-life blogger Jill Stanek told Baptist Press May 17. "This is not anything new to us. It might be new to the American people, but it's not a surprise at all to us."

The late-term method -- known sometimes as live-birth or induced-labor abortion -- used by Karpen and Gosnell is the same Stanek observed at a suburban Chicago hospital where she was a nurse, she said. The goal of the procedure at Christ Hospital was to cause a woman's cervix to expel a premature baby who would die in the process or shortly after departure from the womb. When babies survived the procedure, they were left to die.

Stanek blew the whistle on the practice, and her testimony to Congress helped bring about enactment of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002 to protect children who survive abortion.

"In that case, from what I observed at my hospital, about 25 percent of the babies lived," she told BP. "So I've been saying for a long time that I think this is going on everywhere, that when you're involved in late-term abortions [in which] you use the induced-labor abortion technique ... that this has to be common."

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Gosnell's deplorable practice and clinic "woke up many Americans to the inhumanity of the late-term abortion industry. Here is, arguably, more disturbing evidence."

"Congress must take immediate action to address the brutality and lawlessness of the late-term abortion industry and protect women and babies suffering across the country," she said in a written statement.

Life Dynamics, a pro-life organization in Denton, Texas, released the video of the former Karpen employees -- Deborah Edge, Gigi Aguilar and Krystal Rodriguez -- without naming the doctor or the state in which he practiced. Operation Rescue, which is based in Wichita, Kan., identified Karpen May 15, the day after the video's release. The three ex-employees acted as whistleblowers beginning in 2011 with Operation Rescue.

On the video, Edge says the delivery of live babies was not uncommon at the Aaron Women's Clinic in Houston.

"I think every morning I saw several, on several occasions," she says. "If we had 20-something patients, of course, maybe 10 or 12 or 15 patients would be large procedures, and out of those large procedures, I'm pretty sure I was seeing at least three or four fetuses that were completely delivered in some way or another."

With Aguilar and Rodriguez on either side during the interview, Edge says, "When he did an abortion, especially an over-20-week abortion, most of the time the fetus would come completely out before he either cut the spinal cord or he introduced one of the instruments into the soft spot of the fetus in order to kill the fetus.

"I thought, well, it's an abortion, you know, that's what he does, but I wasn't aware that it was illegal."

When Karpen wasn't stabbing a baby to kill him, he sometimes was "actually twisting the head off the neck kind of with his own bare hands," she says.

Edge says Karpen would do abortions "way over 24 weeks," the legal limit in Texas.

"[H]e does a lot of huge abortions. A lot of the times we would bring the big fetus that [was] over-age and we would reopen the bag and just look at it and be like, 'Oh my ... it's so big.' You know, we would be amazed how big it was," she says.

The informants provided cell phone photos of the bodies of two large babies, at least one whose neck appears to be slit, and videos from inside Karpen's clinic. The photos are on Operation Rescue's website, while the nearly 14-minute video interview is on Life Dynamics' site.

Edge cited the following among other abuses she witnessed, according to Operation Rescue: Falsifying ultrasound results; using unqualified workers to administer drugs; employing nurses through a temp agency when inspections were scheduled; practicing fraudulent billing; and reusing disposable instruments.

Operation Rescue filed a complaint against Karpen with the Texas Medical Board and amended it later, but the board dismissed its investigation in February, the pro-life organization reported.

The Texas Department of State Health Services and the Harris County district attorney's office are investigating the allegations, the Houston Chronicle reported May 15.

In light of testimony in the Gosnell trial and other reports, Republicans in Congress are calling for investigations of abortion clinics and cooperation from states to prevent the kind of murderous and horrific practices described by former Gosnell employees and other witnesses.

GOP members of both the Senate and House of Representatives have called for Congress to investigate and remedy "abusive, unsanitary, and illegal abortion practices." Leaders of two House committees, meanwhile, have written attorneys general and health department officials seeking information on the regulation of abortion clinics in all 50 states.

The pro-life organization Live Action, which has become famous in recent years for its undercover investigations of Planned Parenthood and other abortion centers, has released since April 28 four hidden-camera videos that show clinic personnel providing guidance on late-term abortions. Some of the videos show doctors confirming they will not provide life-saving care for children who survive an abortion. One video shows a clinic staffer explaining how to dispose of a baby born alive.


Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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