A team of journalists is racing against the clock to crowdfund a movie shedding light on America’s most notorious abortionist, a man they call America’s greatest serial killer.
WASHINGTON — In the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List, a little blonde girl in a red coat stands out as a powerful witness to the humanity of the Nazis’ victims.
A team of journalists behind the film Gosnell want audiences to see a little baby in a shoebox, a personal witness to the humanity of countless babies murdered by a man they call America’s greatest serial killer, Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell.
Ann McElhinney, Phelim McAleer and Magdalena Segieda have produced award-winning documentary films exposing baby-selling rings, as well as others critiquing environmentalist claims about global warming and natural-gas exploration, in 2013’s FrackNation.
Now, they’re funding a movie to tell a story of Gosnell’s crimes that went ignored by political and media forces intent on protecting the abortion industry in America.
“Most Americans don’t even know that there is a serial killer named Kermit Gosnell,” said McElhinney, one of the journalists seeking to produce the movie. “He’s someone, here, who killed hundreds of babies, and no one knows about it.”
Kermit Gosnell had a 40-year career as a Philadelphia abortionist, reportedly performing close to 1,000 abortions per year, until a drug raid exposed his Women’s Medical Society abortion facility was a “house of horrors.” A grand-jury report revealed that Gosnell and his assistants would first deliver babies, then slit their throats or stab them in the neck with scissors to sever their spinal cords. Like other serial killers, Gosnell grotesquely held onto some of the remains of his victims, storing them in freezers as if they were trophies.
The abortionist allegedly had joked about one of his infant victims and said, “This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop.”
A jury finally sent Gosnell to life in prison without parole after rendering a guilty verdict in May 2013 on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four infants he killed after being born alive.
The reason most Americans have not heard of Gosnell’s story is related to the reason the grand jury cited in its report that condemned state and city officials in Philadelphia for failing to take action against Gosnell that would have spared lives — “the political football of abortion.”
“This story has questions at its heart that no one needs to shy away from,” McElhinney said. “Something superbad went wrong here, and no one is still asking questions. That’s why we’re making a movie.”
McElhinney, along with veteran investigative journalist McAleer and Segieda, have an all-or-nothing campaign to raise $2.1 million by May 12 on the crowdfunding site IndieGogo. That’s the minimum for making the made-for-TV drama about Kermit Gosnell, including the hiring of screenwriters, actors, composers, etc. If they’re successful, anything raised above the minimum, McElhinney said, will go to making a good story even better.
So far, the campaign has raised $1.2 million in pledges, but it will not be able to collect a penny unless it meets or exceeds its target. The filmmakers are hoping that, with enough grassroots support, they can break the crowdfunding record held by the $5.7 million raised for the movie Veronica Mars.
The goal, McElhinney said, is to produce a compelling crime drama about Kermit Gosnell, similar to the dramas produced for Lifetime, such as the murder of Laci Peterson by her husband Scott. American pop culture on television is fixated on crime, she said, and a television drama is the best vehicle to help the American audience realize the truth about the Gosnell crimes and the cover-up.
“Gosnell is not ordinary in any way. He’s extraordinary. He’s America’s most prolific serial killer, and no one’s heard of him,” she said.
It also provides an opportunity for people to learn things they don’t know about abortion in America.
“The things we learned were very shocking,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know these things, including that you can have an abortion up to the ninth month.”
Humanity, Heroes, Hope
McElhinney said she admired how Steven Spielberg in Schindler’s List drew attention to the humanity of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust with the image of the little girl in the red coat — one of the few splashes of color in the black-and-white film. They want to draw attention to the humanity of Gosnell’s victims with Baby Boy B, whose body was placed in a shoebox, legs dangling over the side.
“It’s very hard for people to contemplate the thousands of babies that Gosnell murdered,” McElhinney said, explaining the numbers are too big to imagine and emotionally connect with. “But it’s important to be sympathetic to these babies.”
She pointed out that when the audience finds Spielberg’s little girl in the red coat among the corpses at the end, “It made you understand that it is all about the one person.” That is the effect they want to produce in their audience.
The film will also provide them an opportunity to show the heroes and whistleblowers, who worked to bring Gosnell to justice and into the national spotlight against stiff opposition. McElhinney said the heroes include those who “shamed” the news media into reporting on the Gosnell trial.
“There is also an uplifting story, which will probably form part of the film, about a 27-year-old woman who went to Gosnell for a third-trimester abortion,” she added. The woman, however, changed her mind in the middle of the abortion procedure, when Gosnell told her that they burned the bodies of the aborted babies. The woman sought help from a cousin, who brought her to a local hospital to reverse the procedure.
“That child is a kindergartener in a local school today, and it’s a very powerful story,” she said. “That could easily form the last scene of the film, because people do need hope, and there is hope in the midst of all this carnage.”
The prospect of a Gosnell movie coming to television has also found support among pro-life leaders who have been on the forefront of exposing the corruption in the abortion industry.
“To get this story out in front of people who would never otherwise hear about [Gosnell] is very valuable,” said Lila Rose, president of the undercover investigative group Live Action, which has performed a number of investigations into Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers
Rose said they know there are other Gosnells out there in the abortion industry “killing children and maiming women,” because states are failing to regulate and inspect their facilities as they do with other medical centers.
Rose said a movie about Gosnell is “of crucial importance,” so people can be moved to take action about the “greatest human-rights abuse in our nation’s history.”
“Americans need to know the brutality of the abortion industry and of what abortionists are doing to women and to children,” she said. “This movie would tell that story.”
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said that Americans will only reject abortion when they see abortion for what it is. He said he learned about the vision of the movie early on and hopes the movie can concretely penetrate through the layers of denial and abstraction that insulate the American people from having a frank discussion on abortion.
“This denial does not necessarily imply support for abortion,” he said. “The American public is stuck in the following position: They know that abortion is happening, that it is pretty bad, and they know it is wrong. But at the same time, they know that if they take a close look at it, it is going to be too disturbing.” Avoiding the topic altogether, he said, becomes their way of not feeling guilty from failing to do something about abortion.
“I’m very hopeful that this movie will really awaken people,” Father Pavone said, pointing out that the limited time the Gosnell case had in the national spotlight energized many people to get involved in the pro-life movement for the first time. “My hope is that the film will simply continue that effect.”