Vital Signs: Gosnell's 'house of horrors' assistant gets prison time

by Courtney Crandell
Posted 2/18/14, 03:00 pm

Killer’s assistant. Abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s assistant was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison last week for his involvement in killing babies born alive in the Philadelphia abortion facility dubbed a “house of horrors.” 

Steven Massof, an unlicensed doctor, worked for Gosnell for five years, making only $300 a week, before quitting in 2008 due to the heavy work load, coworker conflict, and increasingly poor working conditions, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Massof illegally prescribed drugs and assisted with second trimester abortions, Operation Rescue reported.

“I realize that this is something that’s wrong and will never be right and will never go away,” Massof said. He pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder, avoiding a possible death sentence in exchange for testifying against his former employer. 

“As evil as Dr. Gosnell was, as charismatic as he may have been, he didn’t do this alone,” Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner told Massof. “He couldn’t do this without the assistance of someone like you.”

The last three of the nine Gosnell employees facing charges will be sentenced March 13.

Child euthanasia. Belgian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Feb. 13 to extend the country’s euthanasia law to children. 

The law allows patients under 18 with a terminal or painful illness to request euthanasia if their parents agree and a psychiatrist or psychologist certifies they possess “the capacity of discernment.” Belgium’s euthanasia law, passed in 2002, previously applied only to adults. Although the Netherlands allows euthanasia for children as young as 12, Belgium is the first country to impose no minimum euthanasia age, according to Life News.

While Daniel Bacquelaine, a physician and leader of the Reform Movement party, argued children should be allowed to choose life or death, opponents in Belgium’s House of Representatives said the bill violates natural order and is riddled with flaws.

CNNreported that 175 pediatricians signed an open letter arguing the law doesn’t meet a significant demand and that medical advances can alleviated patients’ pain. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe also submitted a written declaration opposing the legislation. 

King Philippe must sign the law before it can go into effect. Jean-Jacques De Gucht, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, anticipates the king’s approval.

State law updates. An Anchorage, Alaska, judge has approved a temporary injunction on the state’s new rules requiring abortionists to provide better justification for Medicaid fundingrequests. Judge John Suddock approved the order at the request of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, which sued the state Jan. 29. He extended the order until the case’s late April trial date, RH Reality Checkreported. The law should have taken effect Feb. 2. 

In Virginia, a House of Delegates subcommittee killed a bill last Friday that, if passed, would have repealed a 2012 ultrasound law, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The current ultrasound law allows women seeking abortion to see their ultrasound images at abortion facilities. Senate Democrats, enjoying a new majority in the upper chamber, passed the bill to repeal that law Feb. 11, arguing it invades a private decision between a woman and her doctor. However, Republicans said the law was unobtrusive and there was no evidence it had inconvenienced anyone.

Meanwhile, North Carolina faces its own ultrasound bill battle. Attorney General Roy Cooper said Feb. 7 he will appeal a federal court ruling that struck down part of a law requiring abortionists to describe an ultrasound image to their clients. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles struck down the requirement Jan. 17, claiming it violates constitutionally protected free speech rights. Though Cooper, a Democrat, opposes the legislation, he plans to appeal the ruling because “constitutional questions remain that should be decided by a higher court,” he said in a release.

Neutrality? Thrivent, the charity arm of the Lutheran fraternal benefit society, will no longer match members’ donations to either pro-life or pro-abortion organizations, citing divergent opinions on the issue.

The organization announced the new “neutrality policy” Feb. 7 after facing criticism over reports it donated more than $8,400 to pro-abortion groups. Thrivent said it altered the policy to prevent distractions from the organization’s goal of encouraging generosity and wise spending. 

The neutrality policy also prevents donations to organizations that address sexual orientation or guns. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Courtney Crandell

Courtney is a former WORLD correspondent.

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