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Gosnell Grand Jury Report: “Gosnell’s staff testified that he constantly tried to explain to them why what he was doing was legal – even though it clearly was not legal”

by | Apr 4, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Page1re-216x300The murder trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell is now well into its third week. Although the jury has heard much about what took place at Gosnell’s “House of Horrors,” as the following excerpt from the Grand Jury makes clear, they haven’t heard the half of it.


Gosnell’s technique of aborting pregnancies by inducing labor and delivery, while unnecessarily painful for the women, did not itself constitute a crime. What made his procedure criminal was that he routinely performed these abortions past the 24-week limit prescribed by law. Not only was this a crime in itself, it also meant that he was regularly delivering babies who had a reasonable chance of survival.

Except Gosnell would not give them that chance. Pennsylvania law requires physicians to provide customary care for living babies outside the womb. Gosnell chose instead to slit their necks and store their bodies in various household containers, as if they were trash.

Although the Grand Jury learned that there is some difference of opinion as to the earliest point of viability, the experts who appeared before the Grand Jury all agreed that, by 24 weeks, organs are sufficiently developed that prognosis for survival is good. These babies can sometimes breathe on their own, though many require assistance. When a woman delivers at 24 weeks or later in a responsible medical setting, such assistance is provided, and resuscitation of the baby is routine. Indeed, a doctor’s failure to provide assistance constitutes infanticide under Pennsylvania law.

Gosnell’s intent to never resuscitate was obvious from his failure to employ even minimally qualified personnel or to have the equipment necessary to save the lives of newborn infants. The policy he instituted and carried out was not to try to revive live, viable babies. It was to kill them. Gosnell severed spinal cords and suctioned and crushed skulls after the babies were fully delivered.

At one point in his Grand Jury testimony, Steve Massof tried to suggest that the clinic’s practice of cutting babies’ spinal cords was somehow part of a late-term procedure called intact dilation and extraction (IDX), commonly referred to as “partial-birth abortion” and banned under federal law since 2007. In an intact dilation and extraction, which was used most often to abort pregnancies beyond 17 weeks, the fetus was removed from the uterus as a whole. In order for the head to pass through the cervix without damage to the mother, the doctor would collapse the fetal skull by making an incision at the base of the neck and suctioning the contents. This procedure was done while the baby was still inside the mother.

This was not the procedure Gosnell used. Under further questioning, Massof acknowledged that Gosnell and he almost always cut the spinal cords, and sometimes  suctioned skulls as well, after the babies were fully expelled by their mothers, when there was clearly no need or medical reason to collapse the skull.

Tina Baldwin’s testimony also made it clear that Gosnell was not cutting spinal cords, crushing babies’ skulls, or suctioning in order to allow the head to pass through the cervix. Even while claiming that Gosnell sometimes suctioned a fetus’s skull in order to get it through the birth canal, her description of his technique belied her claim: She said that he would “crack” the neck after the head was out – when only the baby’s torso was still inside the mother – and then suction the brain matter out.

Tina Baldwin tried to explain:

Q: He was delivering, for lack of a better word –

A: Yes.

Q: — a fetus?

A: Yeah.

Q: And then he was taking care of the problem after the fact?

A: Yes.

Q: Did you see him do this in instances where the fetus had been completely expelled from the mother’s body before he crushed the head?

A: And then he crushed it.

Q: and then he crushed it. I mean I guess you just told the members of the jury about episodes where he would leave the shoulders or –

A: Uh-huh.

Q: — the shoulders would be out?

A: The shoulders would be out, yeah

Q: And he would go work on the neck, you said he would crush the neck and suction the head?

A: Uh-huh.

Q: Did you ever see instances where the fetus was completely expelled from its mother’s body?

A: Oh, yeah, yeah. That’s what we call precipitation.

Q: What do you mean by that? Tell the members of the jury, what would happen?

A: That’s when a patient would precipitate. Usually by the Cytotec that was given to the patient and it just made the uterus so flimsy to where the baby just falls and we had a lot of patients that was second-trimester, it would just fall wherever she was at. And it was picked up and it was put in a dish and it just traveled with the mother. And then the person put the mother up on the table, the baby was put inside the – in the dish on the table and the doctor was called to come in.

Q: And then what would the doctor do when he came in?

A: Let me think back then. Usually he would check and see, check on the fetus and then I think that’s when he used to go ahead and do the suction in the back of the neck.

Q: Even though the fetuses had already been removed from their mother?

A: Yeah, they had already been removed. He would just go ahead and finish it.

Q: Would he explain to you why he did that?

A: No.

Q: Or why that was his practice?

A: No.

Q: Did you ever question it?

A: No.

Q: Okay, how many times would you say you’ve seen this?

A: Hundreds. I’ve seen hundreds. . . .

Kareema Cross testified that when she first started working at the clinic, in 2005, Gosnell slit the neck of every baby. But he subsequently told the workers that the law changed so that he could not do that anymore. (The law, in fact, never allowed him to cut necks of viable babies after they were fully expelled.) Cross said that Gosnell then tried a few times to use a new procedure: He tried to inject a drug called digoxin into the fetus’s heart while it was in the womb. This was supposed to cause fetal demise in utero. But because Gosnell was not skillful enough to successfully administer digoxin, late-term babies continued to be born alive, and he continued to kill them by slitting their necks.

Cross testified:

So he tried to do the needle in the stomach and that’s what was supposed to have killed the baby before the baby came out, but if it didn’t, he’ll say, oh, well, the law says that I can do it. I can still slit the baby’s neck because it didn’t work. The needle didn’t work.

And according to his staff, the needle never worked. So Gosnell stopped trying and reverted to his old system of killing babies after they were born.

Gosnell’s staff testified that he constantly tried to explain to them why what he was doing was legal – even though it clearly was not legal. Severing the spinal cord of viable, live babies after they have been delivered is simply murder. To then crush and suction their skulls defies medical explanation. It can only be understood as an attempt to conceal the true and only purpose of the neat scissor incision at the back of the neck: to kill the babies.

Categories: Gosnell