Back to IndieWire

Movie Based On Trial Of Convicted African American Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell In Development

Movie Based On Trial Of Convicted African American Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell In Development

Some quick back-story…

Almost a year ago, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of a baby born alive in a botched abortion, who prosecutors said would have survived if the doctor had not “snipped” its neck with scissors. The sentence was part of an agreement that the 72-year old Gosnell reached with the Philadelphia district attorney’s office under which he waived his right to appeal the first-degree murder conviction and two other charges of conspiring to kill two other babies, as well as an involuntary manslaughter in the case of a woman who died after being given too much anesthetic in Dr. Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic.

Under the agreement he was spared the death penalty, which prosecutors previously said they would seek. 

The 2-month trial featured testimony about botched late-term abortions and became a battleground for both sides in the national abortion debate. Many of the 250-plus counts against Gosnell were tied to violations of state abortion law, which prohibits terminating pregnancies after 24 weeks. The most serious charges stemmed from allegations that Gosnell delivered babies alive during late-term abortions and then snipped their spinal cords or directed his assistants to do so.

The allegations against Gosnell were detailed in a 300-page grand jury report that described his clinic as a “filthy house of horrors full of broken-down equipment, splattered with blood, and staffed by unlicensed employees who did much of the medical work. Aborted fetuses and their body parts were stockpiled in cabinets and freezers, in plastic bags, bottles, even cat-food containers. Jars with severed feet lined shelves.”

After a 2010 raid of the clinic, prosecutors charged 9e workers, including Gosnell’s wife, with crimes ranging from perjury to murder. 8 pleaded guilty and others took the stand, testifying against Gosnell.

And now Gosnell is becoming the subject of a feature film from director Phelim McAleer, who calls Gosnell “America’s biggest serial killer,” according to The Hollywood Reporter, with an exclusive on the project. The film will also focus on what the filmmaker argues was a lack of bureaucratic and media attention that allowed Gosnell and his clinic to continue operating as described until he was arrested in 2011. McAleer claims liberal mainstream media bias against the anti-abortion movement, which influenced the lack of coverage of the story.

The proposed telepic will be produced by McAleer’s Hat Tip Productions as a TV movie that he plans to pitch to cable TV channels. 

He plans to raise the project’s $1.2 million budget via crowdfunding site Indiegogo – a service he used to previously successfully raise money ($212,265) for his last film FrackNation, a documentary that accuses another documentary, Gasland, of errors in its reporting. 

“Many in the media are uncomfortable with any story that reflects badly on abortion,” McAleer states, adding, in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter, that Hollywood is also biased against the story.”

The Gosnell project will be a scripted drama (not a documentary) and will be bases largely on public information available on via the trial – the 280-page grand jury report which includes graphic photos and descriptions of botched abortions, many conducted in the third trimester of pregnancy, as well as details of Gosnell’s “bizarre” business practices, like charging several different prices for anesthesia depending on how much pain a patient was willing to endure, and racial biases, including specifics on how white women patients were given cleaner rooms and medical equipment than women of color.

Says McAleer: “Gosnell is a fascinating monster; a hoarder, mad man and megalomaniac. He’s a black man who is racist against blacks and Hispanics. He’s a real-life Hannibal Lecter. It’s an omission that Hollywood is ignoring the biggest serial killer in American history, and we’re going to fill that gap.”

I must admit my ignorance on the Gosnell story, even though I consider myself a news junkie. So this is all quite monstrously fascinating to me, and I’ll certainly be researching further. A Google search will return links to coverage of the trial, for those who weren’t fully aware.

You can read the 280-page report from the trial HERE.

Further details on the project HERE.

This Article is related to: News and tagged