I am using the Grand Jury Report on the crimes of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell as the basis of this Wiki. I will add material to support my contention that though Gosnell is beyond the pale, this is mainly in the way he combined and refined aspects of the ghoulish and callous disregard for humanity often seen in abortionists. He was hardly a pioneer.

In order to distinguish between my own writings, and those of the Grand Jury, I will use a different font that makes the Grand Jury Report appear to be typed.

I've written elsewhere about what the Grand Jury refers to as the "Mother's Day Massacre." I'd always referred to it as the "Mother's Day Fiasco." I'll give you the Grand Jury's version first:

Randy Hutchins testified that Gosnell told him about what has been called the “Mother’s Day Massacre.” According to a February 25, 2010, article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Gosnell offered to perform abortions on 15 poor women who were bused to his clinic from Chicago on Mother’s Day 1972, in their second trimester of pregnancy.

Unbeknownst to the women, Gosnell planned to use an experimental device called a “super coil” developed by a California man named Harvey Karman, who had run an underground abortion service in the 1950s. Hutchins related what Gosnell explained to him:

    • At the time that he agreed to do this, there was a device that he and a psychologist were working on that was supposed to be plastic – basically plastic razors that were formed into a ball. All right. They were coated into a gel, so that they would remain closed. These would be inserted into the woman’s uterus. And after several hours of body temperature, it would then – the gel would melt and these things would spring open, supposedly cutting up the fetus, and the fetus would be expelled.

    • The problem was that they never tested it. They didn’t test it on any animals. They never did any – any – any other human trials. This was not something that was sanctioned by the FDA. This was just something that he decided – he and this guy decided they were going to use on these women.

Hutchins actually was mistaken in his belief that no other human trials been conducted. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer article, Karman had tested his device on hundreds of Bangladeshi women who had been raped by Pakistani soldiers. Those women suffered a high rate of complications. Nonetheless, Karman brought his “super coil” to Philadelphia, where he found an ally in Gosnell.

Gosnell, according to Hutchins, inserted the super coils into the women’s uteruses. The event was filmed and later shown on a New York City educational television program. The Inquirer reported the results of this human experimentation as follows:

    • The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Philadelphia 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. The CDC researchers recommended strict controls on any future testing of the device. . . .

Karman spent two years in court battles in Philadelphia. He was convicted of practicing medicine without a license, but a Common Pleas Court judge overturned the conviction in 1974, saying then-District Attorney Arlen Specter had failed to show which women Karman had treated.

Gosnell – who testified that Karman had done an “innocuous” part of the procedures but not fetal extractions – was not charged with anything.

Here is a variation on what I've written about Karman and that fateful Mother's Day:

The Jane syndicate in Chicago was doing a thriving criminal abortion business. They were also under intense police surveillance. They knew Harvey Karman, whom they had invited to Chicago to teach them the menstrual extraction early-abortion technique.

Harvey Karman at around the time of the "Mother's Day Massacre", holding the flexible suction canulas he's credited with inventing.
Harvey Karman at around the time of the "Mother's Day Massacre", holding the flexible suction canulas he's credited with inventing.
Harvey fancied himself a doctor, and even awarded himself a Ph.D. from an imaginary university in Europe in order to identify himself as "Dr. Karman." Actually, he was a dropout from the UCLA school of theatrical arts. But what did that matter? Harvey didn't have much of an education, but he had limitless chutzpah and an unflagging enthusiasm for abortion. The pro-choice movement embraced him without ever checking his credentials.

Harvey's background was checkered, to say the least. His rap sheet included nine felonies in Los Angeles County alone, with a lot of those arrests connected to his budding career as an abortionist. He had managed to kill one Joyce Johnson by performing an illegal abortion on her with a nutcracker in a hotel room. He was sent to prison for this little escapade, but was pardoned by Jerry Brown when he became Governor.

A prison record seems to be more of a badge of honor than a stain of shame for an abortionist, because after his release Harvey's career really took off. Harvey ingratiated himself to the administration of a new California abortion hospital after that state legalized, and he set up an experimental program using "super coils," which were plastic springs inserted into the uterus to cause an abortion.

When the Jane ring was raided, those members who hadn't been arrested scrambled to find abortionists for the scheduled patients. They approached Harvey, and he agreed to try his "super coils" on the Jane customers. He made arrangements to use the facilities of an openly operating criminal abortion facility in Philadelphia. Jane chartered a bus to take the women to Pennsylvania.

On Mother's Day of 1972, the bus load of Jane clients arrived at the Philadelphia mill. It was a circus. Karman had invited a public television station in New York to send a film crew. Local feminists, who did not share Jane's enthusiasm for Harvey, protested outside. Arlen Specter, who was then District Attorney of Philadelphia, was scratching his head over what do to. Abortionists across the country were openly breaking the law in order to get arrested so that they could challenge the laws in court. Specter wasn't thrilled about the clinic, but he also didn't want to make a big show of a spectacular raid and arrest only to have the arrest thrown out through Constitutional wrangling.

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.

The CDC suggested that, "Until the super-coil abortion technique is demonstrated to be safe in the hands of competent medical personnel and in a controlled research setting, the CDC findings suggest that it is not appropriate for use by paramedical personnel."

Meanwhile, Harvey returned to California and continued to get arrested for running illegal abortion clinics and performing menstrual extractions. After Roe v. Wade, Harvey faded away into obscurity and oblivion. He is remembered by the Jane syndicate members (one of whom immortalized him with the bodice-ripper-hero name "Jordan Bennet" in her book, The Story of Jane, see below) and assorted abortion historians. Planned Parenthood later revamped Harvey's old ME technique and, in a wise public relations move, decided to pass it off as a new technology rather than drag their colorful buddy back into the public awareness.

Whenever you hear abortion promoters talk about the newest, safest abortion technique, remember Harvey and his "super coils." They were the magic bullet in their day, too.

. Bernard N. Nathanson, Aborting America, Life Cycle Books, 1979
2. Centers for Disease Control Abortion Surviellance 1972, issued 1974 New York Times, 12/13/72
3. Judith P. Bourne, R.M., et al., "Medical Complications from Induced Abortion by the Super Coil Method," Health Services Report v. 89, n. 1, January-February 1974
4. Laura Kaplan, The Story of Jane, University of Chicago Press, 1997
5. Mark Crutcher, Lime 5, Life Dynamics, 1996