Closed abortion clinic that led to murder charges to be sold

FILE - This May 1, 2013, file photo, shows Dr. Kermit Gosnell's former facility the Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia. Philadelphia wants to auction off the site of the former abortion clinic where imprisoned Gosnell performed illegal late-term abortions. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia began the process to auction off the site of a former abortion clinic where imprisoned doctor Kermit Gosnell performed illegal late-term abortions.

The city had initiated the process to sell the building at sheriff’s auction earlier this year to recoup about $50,000 in delinquent taxes, with a sale possible as soon as early 2019, reported Thursday . Gosnell, who is serving a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole, or someone on his behalf, will have the chance to object to the sale at a hearing scheduled for Nov. 27.

Community members and neighbors have mixed feelings about what should happen to the building that stirs deep emotions in some who lived in the neighborhood when a 2010 raid shined a light on the doctor’s practice. Some say it should be demolished to erase the physical reminders, while others say it should be saved because of architectural significance.

Investigators acting on narcotics related tips raided the west Philadelphia building in 2010. A grand jury produced a more than 200-page report on the horrors inside, including women sedated for or recovering from procedures, lying on dirty recliners covered in blood-stained blankets. A flea-ridden feral cat roamed the hallway where investigators stepped over animal feces to climb the stairs in the building.

Fetuses were found in containers all over the building, including some that investigators had determined had been viable births. Medical examiners said there were signs of incisions and severed spinal cords.

Gosnell was charged with hundreds of counts of violating state requirements on abortion waiting periods and performing illegal late-term abortions. He was convicted of three first-degree murder charges and one manslaughter charge related to the deaths of one woman after a botched abortion and several of the viable fetuses.

Gosnell had been a well-known physician, making house calls and opening a clinic where few physicians practiced. Authorities say Gosnell was known to perform procedures for immigrants and others who had issues getting access to abortions or who had passed the stage in their pregnancies where other doctors would perform the procedure.

Some experts who deal with removing stigma from properties where crimes, deaths and suicides happen, said owners have an easier time selling and developing commercial properties because no one has to sleep there or live with the ghost of past events. Some community members, however, have their doubts the building’s history can be erased.

“We have not had a true community engagement about that parcel yet, but one thing that I know needs to take place is healing,” said De’Wayne Drummond, president of the Mantua Civic Association, which has boundaries that fall just two blocks outside of where Gosnell’s former clinic stands. “You can destroy something, but don’t be healed, and you can restore something and still don’t be healed.”


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