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Gosnell Grand Jury report excerpts: “While the evidence before the Grand Jury supports only a limited number of murder charges, it is without challenge that Kermit Gosnell, under the pretext of providing medical care, routinely killed viable babies and irreparably damaged women”

by | Apr 5, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Page1re-216x300Today completes another week in the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, accused of eight counts of murder. Today’ s excerpt from the 261-page Grand Jury report demonstrates (1) when the babies’ spines were cut, they would feel “tremendous pain”; and (2) Gosnell and his staff routinely cut the necks of babies after observing signs of life.


The clinic’s employees used the term “snip” to describe the severing of the spinal cord, but this is misleading. Our neonatal expert testified that, because of the bony vertebrae surrounding the spinal cord, it would actually take quite a bit of pressure to cut all the way through the spinal cord and the bone – even at 23 or 24 weeks gestation. At 29 weeks, on babies such as Baby Boy A, the expert said, “it would be really hard.” The baby, we were told, would feel “tremendous pain.”

When we asked our medical experts if there could be any legitimate, medical purpose behind Gosnell’s practice, one said: “it would be the same as putting a pillow over the baby’s face, that the intention would be to kill the baby.” Another likened the practice of severing babies’ spinal cords to pithing frogs in biology class.

Gosnell and his staff regularly cut necks of viable babies after observing signs of life

Although no one could place an exact number on the instances, Gosnell’s staff testified that killing large, late-term babies who had been observed breathing and moving was a regular occurrence. Massof said that Gosnell cut the spinal cord “100 percent of the time” in second-trimester (and, presumably, third-trimester) procedures, and that he did so after the baby was delivered.

Massof testified that he saw signs of life in some of these babies. He recalled seeing a heartbeat in one baby and observed a “respiratory excursion” (meaning a breath) in another. On other occasions, he observed “pulsation.” Gosnell dismissed these observations as “spontaneous movement.” “That was his answer for if we ever saw anything that was out of the ordinary, it was always a spontaneous movement.”

Latosha Lewis testified that she saw babies precipitate at 23 to 28 weeks. In those cases, Massof or Gosnell:

… would cut the back of the neck and insert a curette, which is a plastic tubing … that is used to do a suction. You would insert it in the back of the neck of the baby, so that the brain would come out.

Sometimes, according to Lewis, “he [Gosnell] would just snip the neck.” Lewis saw babies move before Gosnell did this:

Q. How many times did you see precipitated babies that had been fully expelled from its mother moving before he snipped the neck?

A. A lot.

Q. Can you give us a percentage of the time?

A. Probably 25 percent of the time.

No steps were ever taken to attend to these babies; “we never even checked to see if [there] was a heartbeat.” Lewis, who had herself given birth twice, recognized that the larger precipitated babies were viable:

… The bigger cases, you would see more movement or the baby would look a little bit more realer to you.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Like the skin would be a lot different. The color of the skin would be a lot different.

The Grand Jurors learned from the neonatology expert that the skin of viable babies does, in fact, appear different from the typically translucent skin of a pre-24-week fetus. Kareema Cross said she saw Gosnell slit the neck of babies born alive “more than 15 times” – “over 10 times,” when she had seen a baby breathing, and about “five times” when she had seen a baby move. She could tell these babies were breathing because “I just seen a baby’s chest go up and down and it would go real fast, real fast.”

Ashley Baldwin also saw Gosnell slice the neck of moving and breathing babies. When asked how many times Ashley had observed babies being delivered that were moving or breathing or crying and the doctor cut the neck, she answered: “Most of the second tris [trimester] that were over 20 weeks.” She said this happened probably dozens of times, maybe more. She described at least 10 babies as big enough to buy clothes for, to dress, and to take care of. She told the Grand Jury what happened to them:

Q. And what happened to those ten babies that came out from their mother, that were big enough that you could put lothes on and take home and take care of, that moved around, what did you see happen to them?

A. He killed them.

Q. Who killed them?

A. Doc.

Q. How did he kill them?

A. He cut the back of the neck.

Ashley said Gosnell told her this was “normal.” Tina Baldwin told the jurors that Gosnell once joked about a baby that was writhing as he cut its neck: “that’s what you call a chicken with its head cut off.”

Although Massof was not as cavalier about what he did, he admitted that there were about 100 instances in which he severed the spinal cord after seeing a breath or some sign of life:

Q. … of those 100 how many were larger than 24 weeks?

A. That I couldn’t tell you for sure. I would have to think that they would all be because they were all able – after a certain period in weeks, you know, there’s – they would have to be capable. I mean premature births are quite common.

When investigators raided the clinic in February 2010, they sent the fetuses they discovered to the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner concluded that two of them – aborted at 26 and 28 weeks – were viable, and another, aborted at 22 weeks, was possibly viable. The 28-week fetus, a male (Baby Boy B) had a surgical incision on the back of the neck, which penetrated the first and second vertebrae. The 22-week fetus, female, had a similar incision.

We believe, given the manner in which Gosnell operated, that he killed the vast majority of babies that he aborted after 24 weeks. We cannot, however, recommend murder charges for all of these cases. In order to constitute murder, the act must involve a baby who was born alive. Because files were falsified or removed from the facility and possibly destroyed, we cannot substantiate all of the individual cases in which charges might otherwise have resulted.

While the evidence before the Grand Jury supports only a limited number of murder charges, it is without challenge that Kermit Gosnell, under the pretext of providing medical care, routinely killed viable babies and irreparably damaged women.

At least two of his patients, he also killed.

Categories: Gosnell