Editor’s Note: The graphic descriptions and images here may be upsetting to readers.
PHILADELPHIA – Kermit Gosnell, the notorious Philadelphia abortionist who reportedly took millions of dollars from his business, was found guilty today of three counts of first-degree murder for delivering live babies and then killing them by snipping their spinal cords with a scissors.
The verdict means the jury will reconvene shortly in order to recommend a penalty – either life in prison or death – to the judge in the case.
He was acquitted on one count of first-degree murder for the death of a fourth baby, and was found guilty of a lesser charge than third-degree murder for the death of a woman who came in for an abortion.
The case, which included 258 total counts against Gosnell, also listed counts of infanticide, racketeering, performing third-trimester abortions and failing to follow the state’s mandatory 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. It revealed insider details of the abortion industry in the U.S. few wanted to hear.
LifeNews.com described from testimony the three cases for which Gosnell will be sentenced:
- Baby A: He was delivered to 17-year old Shaquana Abrams at 29.4 weeks gestation, according to an ultrasound record. He did not fit into the plastic shoe box that Gosnell tossed him in. A worker said she saw the baby pull in his arms and legs while Gosnell explained the movements as “reflexes,” telling her the baby really didn’t move. Then he cut the baby’s neck.
- Baby C. Intact baby of 25 weeks gestation. Worker testified that she saw Baby C breathing for 20 minutes. She told the court she saw Lynda Williams lift the baby’s arm and watched as the newborn drew it back on its own power. Then the baby’s neck was “snipped.”
- Baby D. Described by witnesses as 12-15 inches long with the head the size of a “big pancake.” He was delivered into a toilet and a worker said she saw the baby struggling, using swimming motions in an attempt to get out of the toilet bowl. Then the baby’s neck was “snipped.”
Philly.com reported the state’s prescribed punishment for first-degree murder is either life in prison without parole or death by lethal injection.
The jury also found Eileen O’Neill, 56, Gosnell’s codefendant, guilty of two counts of theft by deception and two of conspiracy.
The newspaper reported he was arrested in 2010 by agents investigating drug dealing. The newspaper said, “As they searched for evidence in the drug investigation, agents found other more shocking evidence: unsanitary conditions including blood and body fluids on the floor and furniture, the odor of a pet store permeated the building from Gosnell’s cat, fish and turtles, and the remains of aborted fetuses and fetal parts stored around the clinic.”
Within days, Gosnell’s medical license was suspended and with weeks, authorities moved to close the business permanently.
No criminal charges resulted against state officials, but a handful of lawyers and supervisors for the health department were fired for failing to make sure inspections were done at the business.
Theoretically, Gosnell still faces trial on the charges that emanated from the drug raid. Other business workers mostly had pleaded guilty to charges.
The jury rejected the defense arguments that Gosnell was being prosecuted for racist reasons.
Witnesses in the courtroom told reporters Gosnell appeared shocked when the guilty verdicts were read.
Gosnell’s defense attorney, Jack McMahon, speaking to reporters after the announcement of the verdict, said Gosnell was “disappointed and upset” at being found guilty.
“As we started the case there were eight homicide cases, seven infants and one adult woman, the jury should be commended for their efforts, even if I don’t always agree. I have confidence in the jury and how they proceeded, but we did feel a lot like salmon swimming upstream.”
Gosnell, who has been held behind bars during the trial, was led back to a sheriff’s van for return to jail.
Found in Gosnell’s background was the “Mother’s Day Massacre.” The event was given the name because Gosnell and his partner, Harvey Karman, bused 15 poor women from Chicago to Gosnell’s Philadelphia clinic to do the abortions on Mother’s Day in 1972.
Operation Rescue Senior Policy Adviser Cheryl Sullenger told WND in an interview that Gosnell and his partner not only did the abortions before Roe v. Wade, they were using an experimental method.
“It was called the super coil, a plastic ball with razor blades on it. They would insert the coil into the woman’s uterus to induce an abortion,” Sullenger said. “I don’t think any of the women knew they were guinea pigs, that they were being used as an experiment.”
The blades were gel-coated and laid down. The device was designed so that when the woman’s body temperature melted the gel, the blades sprang up to cut the baby, thus inducing the abortion.
“Most of the women experienced complications and needed additional medical treatment,” Sullenger said. “One women ended up needing a radical hysterectomy.
“That’s why they call it the Mother’s Day Massacre,” Sullenger said.
That, she said, was the beginning of Gosnell’s long career in the abortion industry.
Most of the attention in the Gosnell trial has focused on the four babies that were the subject of the four first-degree murder charges, Babies “A,” “C,” “D” and “E.” Convictions came for the first three.
However, Gosnell’s “House of Horrors” apparently was the location of other gruesome activity. Among the more macabre discoveries was Gosnell’s collection of baby body parts and how they were kept.
Philadelphia Medical Examiner Dr. Sam Gulino told a Washington Post reporter that he had to deal with frozen baby body parts.
“It was really an unprecedented situation. It was the first time I had to deal with fetal remains that had been frozen. All I could do was allow the remains to thaw so that I could examine them,” Gulino told the paper.
Altogether, Gulino told the Post, he had received all or part of 47 fetuses, most of them aborted well into the second trimester. At least a couple, he determined, likely would have been viable outside the mother’s womb.
That’s just the beginning of the list of bizarre discoveries.
The Blaze compiled a list of abuses Gosnell and his staff are alleged to have committed:
- Gosnell allegedly treated his minority clients with much less respect than his white patients. Considering that he was named, according to the AP, in more than 40 malpractice suits, the clinic head would purportedly perform abortions for Caucasian women in cleaner locations (he assumed whites were more likely to complain about him).
- In addition to the murderous allegations against Gosnell, eight former employees of the clinic have pleaded guilty (some to third-degree murder) and have spoken in great lengths about the terrifying conditions at the clinic.
- A 15-year-old girl allegedly helped facilitate abortions – including on potentially live babies – at the clinic. Ashley Baldwin, now 22, claims she worked nearly 50 hours per week. Even more shocking, she allegedly helped give women the drugs needed for the procedure – and apparently assisted throughout. Baldwin said that she saw aborted babies move on at least two occasions following abortions (in one instance, she said “the chest was moving”).
- Gosnell purportedly used untrained and low-paid staff to conduct nearly 1,000 abortions each year. The charge for a procedure in the horrific conditions mentioned? Between $350 and several thousand, depending on how far along the pregnancy was. Prosecutors believe he made millions from the practice. Authorities claim the clinic brought in about $15,000 per day.
- Speaking of “untrained,” prosecutors claim, according to the Gospel Coalition, that Gosnell is not certified to work in either gynecology or obstetrics.
- In the grand jury report, the clinic was said to smell of animal urine and blood stains were on blankets and furniture inside of the office. Not surprisingly, sterilized instruments were unheard of inside the establishment. And somehow the state had failed to inspect – or even visit – the clinic since 1993.
- In March, Adrienne Moton, a medical assistant at the clinic, provided sickening details about her alleged actions at the clinic, claiming that she snipped the spines of at least 10 babies; she said that another worker – and Gosnell himself – did the same. But that’s not the worst part. Moton also claimed that she once killed a baby after it was delivered in a toilet by cutting its neck with scissors. Moton plead guilty and has been in prison since 2011.
- Another former employee, Sherry West, shared yet another horrifying story. She claims that she was once called to the back room at the clinic, where aborted babies’ bodies were apparently kept on a shelf. Once there, West heard a live baby among the bodies cry out. The screaming child “really freaked” her out, she told the court. “I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little alien,” she said, noting that she previously referred to the babies as “specimens,” because it was easier to mentally handle what was going on at the clinic.
- Then theres Robyn Reid’s story. She was only an 87-pound teen when she went to the clinic in 1998. Accompanied by her grandmother, she was looking for an abortion. But once she made it to the office, Reid changed her mind. But Salem-News.com writes that the doctor allegedly forced an abortion on her. “Gosnell ripped off her clothes and restrained the girl. When she regained consciousness 12 hours later at her aunt’s home, she discovered that an abortion had been performed against her will,” the website reports.
The jury also considered a third-degree murder charge for the death of 41-year-old Bhutanese immigrant Karnamaya Mongar.
In his closing arguments, Prosecutor Ed Cameron reminded the jury of the woman’s past.
“She survived 20-years in a refugee camp after fleeing her country (Bhutan). She was privileged to come to the land of the free. She found a new life here, but that came to an end when she met Dr. Gosnell,” Cameron said.
“The defense says she died of a respiratory infection, but we have testimony that says she was very healthy. She died because she kept getting more drugs,” Cameron said. “We had a toxicologist testify that the levels of the drug meperidine (Demarol) exceeded safe levels. In his view the drugs killed her.”
Crime Library reported that University of Pittsburgh Medical School Anesthesiology Department Chairman Dr. Andrew Herlich testified that in Mongar’s case, drug doses were “outrageous.”
“Mr. Herlich opined that if average-sized adults, with no particular sensitivities to the drugs, were given two custom doses within four hours, most would stop breathing,” Crime Library reported.
Further evidence of Mongar’s death came from an autopsy, LifeNews.com reported in March.
“Assistant Medical Examiner Gary Collins confirmed that the woman, 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar … died from the abortion due to Gosnell and his staff’s medical incompetence in terms of administering a proper amount of anesthesia rather than her dying of some other cause.”
However, Mongar wasn’t the only Gosnell patients to die as the result of a botched abortion.
LifeNews.com reported in April the death of Semika Shirelle Shaw.
“Semika Shirelle Shaw was killed in March, 2000; two days after Gosnell perforated her uterus during an abortion. She developed sepsis and died, leaving two children motherless. A lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount two years later.
“Marie Smith is lucky to be alive after having had a botched abortion by Gosnell in 1999. She developed a high fever and slipped into unconsciousness a week after her abortion. She was rushed to the hospital where the source of her condition was confirmed,” the report said.
Said Smith: “They showed me X-rays and said he [Gosnell] left an arm and a leg inside me. I almost died. I thought he knew what he was doing, but I guess I was wrong.”
Gosnell has been named in over 40 lawsuits in the past 20 years.
One was filed by Dana Haynes, who had an abortion by Gosnell in November 2006. Haynes alleges that Gosnell lacerated her uterus, cervix and her small bowel during the abortion, LifeNews.com reported.
Trial testimony also focused on clinic staff and their lack of qualifications to perform the duties Gosnell assigned. Prosecution witness Kareema Cross, who worked at the clinic from 2005 through 2009, said she went to school to become a medical assistant and that she was not certified to give medication.
Cross testified: “No, I didn’t learn how to give medication. I was never certified to give medication.”
The lack of training and certification is reported to have been one of the major causes of problems at Gosnell’s clinic. As a result of the lack of training and experience, Cross testified that patients were frequently overmedicated.
“Most of the staff gave medication, but we weren’t certified. We would give the medication and frequently the patients complained about their arms swelling from too much medication,” Cross testified.
Some of the clinic staff left their jobs because of fears caused by medication errors. LifeNews.com reported that clinic worker Latosha Lewis said that she left the clinic because she overdosed a patient.
“She stopped doing so in 2007 because she overdosed a woman and was worried about whether she would ever come out of anesthesia. She also said she stopped administering Cytotec, a drug that caused powerful and often unpredictable contractions around the same time,” LifeNews said.
It said Lewis also testified that the equipment was outdated and that Gosnell often reused disposable medical instruments.
“Lewis indicated that Gosnell’s equipment was outdated and never inspected, and that he often reused disposable curettes, which is the sharp-ended tube that enters the womb in abortion procedures and applies suction for the removal of the pre-born baby and other tissues and fluids,” LifeNews said.
Cross testified she was also not certified to do ultrasounds. However, Cross said her lack of experience and training didn’t stop Gosnell from giving her that job as well.
“I wasn’t trained on how to do ultrasounds. At the clinic, Dr. Gosnell trained me on how to use the ultrasound device, for about ten minutes. Then he turned me loose to do them,” Cross testified.
Cross testified that she couldn’t give the exact number of ultrasounds she performed.
WND reported that trial testimony frequently revealed how often Gosnell was absent from the clinic, especially during the late-term abortions.
“We did a lot of second trimester abortions. I can’t say exactly how many. He was almost never there during a second trimester abortion,” Cross testified.
The issue of medication was again raised during the portion of the testimony on second trimester abortions.
Cross said workers would simply give medications based on a chart hanging on the wall.
“There was no monitoring equipment to know how much medication [was] giving intravenously. The medication we would give was Lorazepam,” Cross said.
“There was no monitoring equipment in the room. There were no monitors, no blood pressure monitors,” Cross said. “We had a defibrillator but I don’t know that we ever used it.”
Throughout the trial, questions were raised concerning how many people and organizations knew about Gosnell’s operation.
In February 2010, Pennsylvania’s Planned Parenthood CEO Dayle Steinberg told Philadelphia’s WHYY that she wasn’t aware of the clinic’s conditions.
“We do anticipate that women who might have scheduled appointments for abortion procedures at the Women’s Medical Society will be calling Planned Parenthood,” Steinberg said during the WHYY interview.
WHYY reported Steinberg confirmed knowing Gosnell had provided abortions in Philadelphia for many years, that she hadn’t heard of problems.
However, after Gosnell’s clinic was raided, Steinberg’s story changed. Phllly.com, the Philadelphia Inquirer and WHYY website reported Steinberg saying, “The Gosnell trial has shifted the focus off the high-quality services we provide. These are criminal, horrendous . . . acts and should be appropriately punished.”
Revelations about the clinic condition also prompted Steinberg to admit that staff at her clinics were frequently treated to Gosnell clinic horror stories. Steinberg told Philly.com, “We would always encourage them to report it to the Department of Health.”
WND also reported that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, Alveda King, believes that the prosecution did its duty.
King believed that Gosnell should be found guilty because of his recklessness in dealing with the patients.
“The prosecution has demonstrated that there was always consciously a disregard for the women and the babies,” King said. “The prosecution has shown that there are at least seven babies who died as a result.
“I believe there were many more who were injured, harmed, and killed by Dr. Gosnell and his staff’s conscious disregard of all the women and those babies.”
Prosecutor Ed Cameron clearly believes the case against Gosnell has been proven, and that reckless disregard for the patients has been shown.
WND reported that Cameron illustrated his point by contrasting how his dog was treated when he was put down, Gosnell’s treatment of his patients – mothers and babies.
“My dog got better treatment than these babies and these women,” Cameron said. “First they gave him a shot to help him sleep. Then they took him to a room, and once he was asleep, they gave him the shot so that he would not wake up.
“They treated my dog with dignity,” Cameron said. “My dog was cremated. [Gosnell] took these babies and put their parts in Lime-Aid jars.
“Those babies didn’t stand a chance,” Cameron told the jury.
In his closing statement, Cameron also said the ultimate issue is human dignity.
“Pennsylvania law requires that once a baby leaves the mother, he be treated with dignity and respect like a human being,” Cameron said. “But the question we need to ask that man sitting over at the table: Are you human? To med these women up and to cut these babies’ necks is not human.”
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, is calling the case a “watershed moment.”
“The discovery of his horrific practices helped shed light on an abortion industry that has run amok without oversight or accountability for decades, and has prompted significant changes in abortion laws and attitudes toward enforcement in several states,” he told LifeNews.
Clinic worker Ashley Baldwin testified about watching Massof slit the necks of babies that moved or breathed “five or 10” times. Massof, repeating what he had been taught by Gosnell, told her that that it was standard procedure to cut the spine in all cases.
Q: These larger babies, when Dr. Steve was there, did he ever – was he ever there when any of the larger babies precipitated?
Q: Babies that would move?
Q: So, Dr. Steve – what would Dr. Steve do with babies that moved?
A: The same thing.
Q. The same thing. And how many time did you see Dr. Steve?
A: A lot. He told me that – don’t worry about it. They are not living. It is just a reaction.
At one point, Cross testified, staff member Lynda Williams placed a baby on the counter, and it was breathing and moving its arms when Williams pulled on them.
After playing with the baby, Williams slit its neck, Cross said.
Gosnell’s clinic isn’t the exception, Priests for Life National Director Father Frank Pavone told WND in an interview that Gosnell’s clinic is the “rule.”
“This trial simply exposes the abortion industry for what it is. Gosnell’s clinic isn’t unique. I’m afraid it’s the norm,” Pavone said.
King would agree.
“So because Dr. Gosnell is the most visible tip of the iceberg today – he’s the rule not the exception to the rule. He’s visible evidence of the rule – that abortion kills babies, sometimes kills women, it hurts human beings,” King said.
Pavone believes that there’s more at stake than the fate of Gosnell. Abortion itself is on trial.
“When we hear the things that are coming out of the testimony, nothing is shocking us because we’ve heard it all before,” Pavone said. “The fact that Roe v. Wade made abortion legal did not make it safe. We see all sorts of corruption in unregulated facilities. Sadly this is only more of the same.”
Newsbusters noted that the local tax-funded National Public Radio station WHYY described Gosnell as “a physician who had worked in our community for 30 years, cared for women in all of that time.”
But the NPR station also noted that the jury “didn’t hear from one character witness or one person who was put on the stand to say that he was a competent physician.”
Actress Patricia Heaton took to Twitter to give her opinion: “Gosnell is just the less sanitary version of what goes on every day … the cheapening of human life. Lord have mercy.”
WND also reported earlier that the discoveries at Gosnell’s clinic were startling. A partial list reported by WND includes:
- Rusty and filthy abortion equipment has been brought into the courtroom to document unsanitary conditions.
- Medical records appear to have blood and other stains on them.
- Gosnell’s staff acted as though they were doctors, even though some had little or no medical training.
- Medications, including anesthetics, found in the office had expired years earlier.
- A defense attorney blamed a woman, Bhutan immigrant Karnamaya Mongar, for her own death, since she left several blanks on her medical form. Prosecutors said she spoke little English and likely was unaware she needed to provide information.
- Patients appeared to repeatedly get overdoses of drugs for their abortion procedures, including Mongar.
- Photographs of the bodies of babies, revealed gaping wounds in the back of their necks. According to testimony, Gosnell or staff members routinely snipped their spinal cords to make sure they were dead. Operation Rescue said: “The babies were all intact and had the appearance of being partially mummified or dried. The brownish-black skin had shrunk as it dried, revealing the upper spinal column that authorities say was pierced with scissors in order to snip the spinal cords of newborn babies born alive during abortions by Gosnell.”
- Photographs were introduced of babies’ feet, or even whole legs, Gosnell had preserved in jars.
Prolife activist Lila Rose, whose LiveAction.org has released undercover videos revealing how abortion businesses say they would not help an infant born alive during an abortion, said the government needs to investigate the procedures.
“We believe in human rights for everyone – human rights for the child in the womb, the child outside the womb, and true protection and medical care for women. Not the brutality that goes on during these procedures,” she said during a rally Wednesday in Washington.
Congress also is beginning to consider further restrictions on abortions in the District of Columbia as a result of the controversy over the born-alive babies.
And Pavone wrote in the Washington Times that the procedure of abortion not only kills the unborn, but also the abortionist.
“David Brewer, a former abortionist, tells his story: ‘I can remember that day watching the first abortion . I saw a little tiny head, and I saw a piece of a leg, and I saw a tiny hand, and I saw an arm. You know, it was like somebody put a hot poker into me . I had a conscience and that hurt. That was a very hard experience for me to go through, emotionally. So I did what a lot of us do throughout our life, we don’t do anything. I didn’t talk with anybody about it. and do you know what happened? I got to see another abortion. You know what? That one hurt, too. But I kept seeing abortions, and it hurt a little bit less every time I saw one. Do you know what happened next? I got to sit down and do one . The first one that I did was kind of hard. It was like hurting again like a hot poker. But after a while, it got to where it didn’t hurt’ (Testimony at ‘Meet the Abortion Providers’ conference in Chicago).
“So yes, I am not at all surprised that Dr. Gosnell is cool, calm and collected, smiling even as he listens to those accusing him of murder. Abortion destroys the abortionists themselves.”