THE HURT LOCKER: Fetus-Hoarding Doctor Tied To Controversial Botched Abortion Experiments


INQUIRER: Harvey Karman, a California psychologist who ran an underground abortion service in the 1950s, wanted to make abortion simpler, cheaper, and less painful. He succeeded by inventing a soft, flexible tube, the Karman cannula, that is still used in early-stage abortions. Then he “set out to revolutionize second-trimester abortion” with a plastic spiral, “the super coil,” that could be inserted into the uterus to trigger an abortion, according to Tunc. At the invitation of the Bangladeshi government, Karman tested the device on hundreds of women there who had been raped by Pakistani soldiers. He claimed there were no complications. On Mother’s Day weekend in 1972, Karman, other activists, and 15 women in their second trimester of pregnancy boarded a bus in Chicago and headed for Philadelphia, where Dr. Kermit Gosnell had agreed to give them super-coil abortions at his clinic, then at 133 S. 36th St. The women, who were poor, had been unable to get abortions in Chicago or New York. Gosnell’s super-coil abortions – filmed and later shown on a New York City educational-TV program, thanks to Karman – turned out badly. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the abortion_0.jpgPhiladelphia Department of Public Health subsequently did an investigation that detailed serious complications suffered by nine of the 15 women, including one who needed a hysterectomy. The complications included a punctured uterus, hemorrhage, infections, and retained fetal remains. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s license was temporarily suspended this week after investigators found blood on the floor, fetus parts in jars and a recovery area consisting of recliners. Gosnell, 69, is named in nearly four dozen lawsuits going back 20 years. Ten are malpractice suits, including one by the family of a young woman who died after a March 2000 abortion at his West Philadelphia clinic. Semika Shirelle Shaw called the office the day after her abortion because she was bleeding badly but wasn’t told to get checked there or at a hospital, according to court documents. The lawsuit alleged that Shaw, a 22-year-old mother of two, died two days later of a perforated uterus and sepsis. MORE

RELATED: MALINA WILLIAMS took one look at the roomful of bottled fetus remains and knew instantly that something wasn’t right. She was just 13, still a baby herself, and had just had an abortion at the hands of Dr. Kermit B. Gosnell. She said she had thought something was amiss when the West Philadelphia doctor eagerly agreed to perform the abortion, even though he allegedly didn’t have permission from her parents as required by state law. After her procedure was over, Williams said she saw Gosnell cradling a bottle that contained the remains of her fetus. Her eyes darted away and landed on the room with the bottles. “He left the door open,” said Williams, now 32. “I could see all the little babies in bottles filled with liquid, and I started crying. “He said he did research on them. He said, ‘Don’t cry, don’t feel bad. Everybody does this.’ ” MORE


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