NRL News

Gosnell trial shifts to death of woman during 2009 abortion

by | Mar 21, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Abortion Clinic InvestigationTestimony in the murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell turned Thursday to 41-year-old Karnamaya Mongar, who died during a November 19, 2009 abortion from what prosecutors say was an overdose of sedatives and narcotics administered by Gosnell’s untrained staff.

(For more on what the Grand Jury detailed about Gosnell’s misuse of staff and pain medications, see “Abortionist Kermit Gosnell ‘not really practicing medicine; he was running a money-making racket, cutting corners and endangering patients to maximize his profits.’”)

Unlike the first degree murder charges in the case of seven viable unborn babies aborted alive who then allegedly were killed when their necks were slit, Gosnell is charged with 3rd degree murder in Mrs. Mongar death. All seven of the babies were killed well after the 24th week, the limit in Pennsylvania, according to prosecutors. Mongar’s abortion was legal—she was 19 weeks pregnant.

Prosecutors used nearly illegible hand-scrawled notes to demonstrate that despite signs of respiratory distress after the first dose, she was given a second heavy dose of Demerol, Promethazine, and diazepam. Reporting for the Associated Press, MaryClaire Dale wrote

“Prosecutors allege that Gosnell’s untrained staff let patients pick between ‘local,’ ‘twilight,’ ‘’heavy’ or ‘custom’ anesthesia based on how much they could pay. And they say he did little to monitor patients afterward, failing to utilize blood pressure cuffs, oxygen machines, a pulse monitor and other standard surgical equipment.

“’All bets are off (without monitoring),” said Dr. Andrew Herlich, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“The amount of drugs given to Karnamaya Mongar — at least as suggested by the nearly illegible clinic note — was likely to put her in a coma, he said. He also said the procedure should have been stopped at the first sign of respiratory distress, to address that problem.”

Mongar’s husband and three children have filed a separate wrongful-death suit against Gosnell, the city of Philadelphia, and others.

Only in its fourth day, the trial (expected to last 6-8 weeks) has already witnessed a barrage of shocking details.

As NRL News Today has reported earlier this week, the jury heard testimony from the mother of “Baby Boy A,” the child aborted alive in July 2008 who was so big Gosnell “joked” that he could have walked to the bus stop; and from the employee (Adrienne Moton) who saw the baby before “Gosnell rushed in and carried the boy away.”

Shayquana Abrams was 17 in 2008 when she met Gosnell at the Atlantic Women’s Medical Services clinic in Wilmington, Delaware where Gosnell worked. She said Gosnell performed an ultrasound and she was told the baby was 24 weeks old. (Abortions are legal through the 20th week in Delaware but through 24 weeks in Pennsylvania.) The baby was delivered three days later at Gosnell’s own abortion clinic at 3801 Lancaster Ave.

Questioned by Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, Abrams said she was in such pain following the abortion that her aunt took her to a hospital where Abrams was diagnosed with a “grapefruit-sized abscess” on her side and a blood clot in the vein near her heart. “It was the worst pain I ever experienced, worse than when I gave birth to my daughter,” Abrams said.

The jury also heard Abrams review her file from Gosnell’s office “which included three consecutive ultrasound photos Gosnell performed on July 10, 2008,” according to Joseph A. Slobodzian of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “In each, the size of the fetus gets smaller until the third has a gestational age of 24.5 weeks. Pescatore has argued that Gosnell and his staff manipulated ultrasounds to try to artificially reduce the age of the fetus so it would appear to be a legal late-term abortion.”

On Tuesday, prosecutors elicited testimony about what is even by the standards of the Women’s Medical Society bizarre: dozens of jars with the severed feet of aborted babies preserved in specimen jars. Moton said Gosnell once told her that “he did so in case patients requested them for future identification or DNA samples,” Slobodzian reported.

Assistant District Attorney Edward Cameron asked an expert in fetal development, “Do you think there is any medical reason to save the foot of a baby?” Daniel H. Conway, a physician and neonatologist at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, replied, “In my practice, we would have no reason to save the foot, and I’ve never seen that done.”

Categories: Gosnell