The details of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s ongoing trial offer a picture of horror usually reserved for a striking brand of shock fiction.
“This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women,” begins the criminal grand jury report, which was issued in 2011 — well before the story became national news. “What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy – and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”
“The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels – and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.”
Gosnell, who is standing trial in Philadelphia, faces the death penalty. He is charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of seven babies and one woman at his clinic, known as the “Women’s Medical Society.”
The charges are straightforward, the details macabre. The grand jury report describes the facility as a “baby charnel house” where Gosnell — the only doctor at the clinic, accompanied by a staff of untrained employees performing medical procedures — sought to turn a profit, irrespective of the law or the safety of the women in his care.
“The clinic reeked of animal urine, courtesy of the cats that were allowed to roam (and defecate) freely. Furniture and blankets were stained with blood. Instruments were not properly sterilized. Disposable medical supplies were not disposed of; they were reused, over and over again. Medical equipment – such as the defibrillator, the EKG, the pulse oximeter, the blood pressure cuff – was generally broken; even when it worked, it wasn’t used. The emergency exit was padlocked shut. And scattered throughout, in cabinets, in the basement, in a freezer, in jars and bags and plastic jugs, were fetal remains,” the grand jury report states.
According to the report, Gosnell took pictures of his patients’ genitalia, and cut off and saved aborted fetus’ feet. Aborted remains clogged toilets.
Gosnell’s untrained, unlicensed staff routinely administered drugs and performed medical procedures, the report states. Specifically, according to the report, Gosnell and the staffers conducted illegal late-term abortions and cut the necks of the babies that were born alive. If anything went awry, Gosnell avoided calling emergency services — possibly leading to the deaths not only of several babies, but also at least two female patients, the grand jury report suggests.
“Gosnell’s ‘medical practice’ was not set up to treat or help patients. His aim was not to give women control over their bodies and their lives. He was not serving his community. Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, motivated by greed,” the report continues.
The alleged malpractice at Gosnell’s clinic apparently went ignored for years by state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Department of State, despite numerous complaints. Only after a drug raid on the facility did officials notice the clinic was hiding macabre secrets.
“Pennsylvania is not a third-world country. There were several oversight agencies that stumbled upon and should have shut down Kermit Gosnell long ago. But none of them did, not even after [patient] Karnamaya Mongar’s death,” the grand jury report reads. “In the end, Gosnell was only caught by accident, when police raided his offices to seize evidence of his illegal prescription selling. Once law enforcement agents went in, they couldn’t help noticing the disgusting conditions, the dazed patients, the discarded fetuses. That is why the complete regulatory collapse that occurred here is so inexcusable. It should have taken only one look.”
Trial testimony, too, has offered upsetting details about practices at Gosnell’s clinic.
NBC Philedephia reported on the testimony of Stephen Massof, and unlicensed Granada medical graduate currently in prison for killing two newborns, describing how practitioners at the clinic snipped the spinal chords of delivered fetuses.
“[L]iterally a beheading,” NBC quoted Massof as saying. “It is separating the brain from the body.”
He further testified, according to NBC’s report, that when women were given drugs to speed up delivery, “it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.”
Ashley Baldwin, who began working at the clinic as a teenager and assisted in late-term abortions, including snipping necks, testified that she had seen at least five aborted babies moving and breathing, and in one case “screeching,” according to an AP report.
“They looked just like regular babies,” Baldwin said, adding that Gosnell said one baby was so big that it looked like it was “going to walk me home.”
Baldwin further described the night Karnamaya Mongar, 41, died from an apparent overdose of Demerol. After Monger went into cardiac arrest, Gosnell allegedly asked Baldwin to plug in a defibrillator.
“I got a small shock when I plugged it in,” Baldwin said, according to the AP. “It didn’t work.”
The trial is set to reconvene Monday.